Anger, contempt, bullying, belittling and division is a hallmark of the fallen man. It is part of our self-preservation. We need to take care of what ours. Throughout history philosophers and poets have written on it. 1500 years ago, a Chinese Philosopher said, “Speak when you are angry--and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret.",
We see it all around us in this time. people belittling others that don’t agree. With everyone spending more time on social media, it has become a shouting match on whose opinion is the best, all the while attacking viciously in a way that would never have been acceptable in person. we tell children that they are being disrespectful if they are angry, while we parent loudly express our anger at them for some small thing, because they are in our space.
The root is pride. It is thinking you are central not Christ. And Only he can deal with the root cause. His Spirit alone can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Can write the law on our hearts., because of his love for us and our love for him, it become unnantrual to show worldly, selfish, pride-filled anger
Jesus goes much deeper than any philosopher and teacher. In fact, he goes so deep, that those who fully grasp these rules often declare them to be unworkable in the real world.
Feeling the weight of God’s love: Getting to the heart of all problems: The heart.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘you shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you…”
Remember what I said last time. Following Jesus is not about doing and not doing first of all. Its about a change in desire. Its about new life. Here is a teacher who speaks as the I AM – Yahweh.
Listen to this man who speaks with absolute authority to you today. He is Lord and if he is your Lord and Savior, he will transform you. For the life he gives you is a new live. Not outward transformation, but inward. Where it is not about you getting angry when people interfere with your life, but you welcoming people into your life. Where you are not living in fear of others but loving others. It is only by abiding in him that these words will find a reality. This sermon is not for those who do not believe. It is for those who believe. For those who are already disciples – for they alone have the Spirit to enable to walk in the kingdom way. For those listening who do not believe, I pray that you would be so captivated by the beauty of a transformed life that it you would be attaracted to our savior, Jesus. For without Him and his work, this would be impossible. Impossible for the person who does not believe.
And it’s a glorious picture! These words open to us the depth of the love of God found in Jesus Christ. These words open to us who we are truly meant to be – who we were created to be in Jesus Christ. These words open to us the meaning of the cross, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign of Christ. These words open to us that beautiful phrase which we come across again and again: In Christ. Its about unconditional love.
For only in Christ do you have nothing left to fight for in this world. We have all we need – so rather then get angry when people impose on our space like when someone cuts in front of you on the highways,or when someone interrupts you while you are working from home, or someone is really annoying you at homeyou do not respond with frustration, , or get angry – but you can love. Because you are dead to yourself and alive in Christ. This is what Paul mean when he says, “Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive in Christ.” Because its not about us. Our time, space, or sensitivities – our whole focus lies entirely on living the kingdom life.
Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever commits murder will be liable to judgement.” This was the pharisee way of saying I don’t murder; I keep the law. Jesus pulls that ground from underneath them by getting to the heart and showing them the only ground where you can stand is in Him. Not in some law, but in relations to him. It’s not about rules, it about relationship. It’s not about what you do and don’t do, but desire. Your closest friend won’t appreciate it if you don’t murder her, but are always angry. Or calling names. You may as well murder her.. Or your wife wont appreciate it if you just say you loved her, and never really meant it but were angry and hated her. . The hypocrisy almost makes it worse.
Why do you get angry at someone? Your will has been imposed on, or you have been wronged in some way. Your ego has been wounded. And Self-righteousness kicks into high gear – you are better than that person. How dare he or she! Who does he think he is? Has he seen how hard I worked for that promotion; does he know who I am? He thinks he is so important! Does the teacher have any idea how much is studied? How dare she give me that grade!? I would never do that.
Self-righteous and his close relative pride are almost always companions to anger. As James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”
Let me explain. When two people fight, the reason they fight is because they both want something. Maybe they both are convinced they are right and the other is wrong. And they fight because they want to be proved right. They are most likely not thinking, is what I am doing more about me being right, then about loving this person to Christ. That’s all we want. That’s our entire goal. Its not about being right, its about Christ. It is not about our own honor, but Christ honor. And what you say, how you say it and when you say it will betray what lives in your heart. Sometimes its better to be silent, then be right.
If all you wanted was to love them to Christ it would change the tone, and the words of most of our arguments. They would be a lot more gracious, humble, patient, and kind. They would display spiritual fruit not fleshly fruit.
He says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.” You ever wonder why you get so angry on the road… because murder is in you. Some people just act on it. Murder lurks in your heart. And its killing us as much as it kills others. As someone once said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Find an angry person and you find a person with a wounded ego. That still needs to be respected by others, by the world, because they are not totally satisfied in Christ. A wounded ego is the root of very murder that has ever occurred, from Cain murdering his brother, to you being angry in traffic. The root is the same, your will has been imposed upon, and your ego wounded. You had the right of way! Cain had a right to be heard!
But he says particularly everyone who is angry with his brother. This is particularly heart rending in the family of God, the covenant community. That is what makes this sin even more grievous. Anger on its own is terrible, anger displayed against family is heart rending. Especially considering that is murder of the heart. Who murders their family! This is the family of Christ; he is saying this emotion does not belong in the family. At least not in the way it is normally displayed. We humans have a very very difficult time displaying what the Bible calls righteous anger.
Sometimes the LORD places hard things on our path to make so realize how self-centered we can sometimes be. I think in a sense COVID-19 has done this for the church. It has helped us prioritize our relationships again. This is not about us. About our kingdom. About our ego. This is about him, his kingdom, his family, his honor. This is about laying down you life for the people closest to you. Saying I am second. I don’t have to be first. Because in Christ the first became last, so that I might also be the least.
We reap what we sow. If we sow anger, we will reap judgement. This is what James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister and judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
No we must start without relationship with Christ, when we see how much he has forgiven us, how much we continue to hurt him, and he does not respond in anger but in grace, we will be humbled, and rather than be angry with our brother, we will consider them better then ourselves.
Then Jesus Goes on “Whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council.” Insult is an idea of contempt. To say Raca to someone might be like calling them a dork, or stupid, or a nerd. Our language is filled with these words. Our everyday words betray an attitude of contempt which God takes extremely seriously. In fact, eternally seriously. The question is do we?
The point of contempt is always to exclude someone, push them away or leave them out. How often do we not see it at school, or church or at work some is being put down, or forgotten? Someone not seen as important and worthy, but unimportant, not needed. Not worthy. Is this not one of the great fears in humanity. Everyone lives in terror of it. Being left out. Being the nobody. But its normalness does not minimize its destructiveness.
And he is saying this person is liable to be taken to court. Now a few of them might of chuclkled. Can you imagine if we were taken to court every time you got wrongfully angry or just called someone a name? The courts would be overwhlemed, the judges paid overtime, the prisons full. We chuckle but Jesus is serious.
He says, That’s the world. But the church is a counterculture. The light of the world. It is a body, where every member count. A temple where every stone is needed to complete the building, a flock where every sheep is worthy it be pursued by the great shepherd. And where they are treating each other as such!
Again, when we do this we need to repent, and realize our own state before God. Trust me this sermon should be memorized. This sermon brings us all back to the cross in repentance, asking him to shape this heart in us. Again, I would like to quote our bother James, ““God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. When we see ourselves and others in the light of how God in Christ sees them then we will never dare say this. He sees them as worthy. Infinitely worthy in the covenant community. As brother and sister. If you say this to your brother or sister in church, you say this to Christ. Do you dare! That is the seriousness of sin.
Then Jesus takes it all one step further, and says, “Whoever says, “you fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.” This is contempt combined with anger.
Will be liable to hellfire. For the first readers it would have been like a kick to the stomach. It was not like these words were strange to them. They definitely didn’t get you put in jail. But here Jesus is saying my children and my followers this is NOT NORMAL. In fact you will be liable to hell if this is what lives in your heart, and in the way you think about your brothers and sisters.
And in the end I don’t want to see these as simply three more laws. If it were more laws we would find ways around it. We would act this way, and say, “I was just joking, I didn’t actually mean that, or I didn’t say that exactly.” So I am not a sinner. But we cannot get around the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And it is only in our relation to the one speaking that we begin to stop doing these things. Because it is not something we try to become, but something we are.
This is about love real love. Sacrificial love. The transformational love of Christ. The opposite of murder is not to not murder, but it is to love as Christ has loved us. It is to find each other and seek each other out. Some of you are going through deep relational struggles now. Yu cant go anywhere with yourself. And the other person cant go anywhere. What do you do? Well first I want you to know there is hope. In Jesus. For a renewal. For intamzacy beyond expectation. For love. But only ifyou are willing to humble yourself. Only if you are willing to lose your life. And it starts with understanding what Christ has done for you. If you do then you will go out of our way to be reconciled. These are things that we do not first of all have to do, but things that we are.
“So, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be reconciled to your bother.” This is the opposite of anger, a positive regard for our neighbor. And the word changes from the plural , “you all” to the singular, “You.” He is speaking to the individual here.
If you are going to the alter. In other words, if you are coming to the place of worship, the place where God and man are reconciled, and on your way to church remember that your bother has something against you then go. Then stop. Because if you are not reconciled to your brother who is in Christ how can you think you can be reconciled to Christ.
If you come to the cross, desiring to see Jesus, if you believe that your sins are forgiven, that God is not angry with you on account of your wrongs. If I believe God in Christ left the place of worship the very throne room of God to pursue me with all that he is, indeed with himself, so as to be reconciled to me the worst of all sinners how much more shall I not leave the gift at the alter and be reconciled. There is no place for worship without reconciliation. There is no room for self-righteous pride of “I am right and he is wrong, and he need’s to come to me.” If God thought that way we would not be reconciled either. We have the heart of Christ.
The aim here is illustrative – again this is not a law. There are times when you have done everything you can and you feel like you can do not more, but pray. But Jesus challenges us all lets make sure we have done all we can, because he has done all. The work his finished. We just need to make that finished work ours by living it out.
Just to illustrate how serious Jesus took this. He most likely meant the alter in Jerusalem, and he preached this in Galilee then it would be a walk of eighty miles. Jesus says this man walked eighty kilometers, and then remembers something that his brother has agains him he needs to leav it there, and be reconciled first! This shows how important right relationships are to God. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
This is about the heart of Jesus. Is the heart of Jesus your heart? The big questions is do our hearts continually long for reconciliation in the one who is reconciling all things to himself, or are they in the business of making excuses or playing the blame game. Especially in this time. I pray for your relationships! Start with yourself. Don’t make excuses. But, pastor this and this. But pastor… – God does not want to hear that game – he will simply ask if you understand the gospel = have we done what we can?
Jesus Continues: Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court. Now Jesus has said this is already going to court. Now he is no longer your brother but your accuser.Enemies, you are on your way to court.
And is this actually not the journey we are all on. We Brothers and sisters, we will all stand before the court of heaven. The court that judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Do you love me Jesus asks? Then obey me. Follow me. Love like I loved.
Lets look at it form a gospel perspective. The Disciple has been forgiven all. And all is a lot for any disciple. It cost the blood of the Son of God to forgive you sinner. Will you not be willing to pay any price to be reconciled, and honor your brother. If you come to church thinking I am doing pretty good compared to all those people then we do not understand the point of the cross, and gospel.
The Gospel permeates all our relationship, brings us low humbles us so that we can truly be reconciled. Jesus went to the human courts and was condemned, Jesus went to the high court, and was condemned, so that you could be reconciled with your brothers and sisters quickly before you get there.
Dear church you behavior only shows what is in your heart; it is impossible to divide the two. When our hearts are encased with angry intent; our spirit, countenance, and actions will be influenced in a manner that will eventually, agree with the heart.
Dear Church don’t be discouraged by the anger and division in your heart. But bring it to the cross. Humble yourself today. Together as families. Confess your sin. sinful people are angry people, because they are self-centered people. But God pursues the angry person. So do not give up the battle. God is jealous for your heart. Yes, There is a stream of jealousy that is rare and beautiful and it flows from God. It says, you are mine and I want you back. Its strategy for getting you back is not reckless rage but pursuing love that has your best interests at heart. This is God’s jealous response to the angry person. In the book of James, it says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us” (4:5). Who would have thought that the angry person would be hotly pursued by the Holy One who invites him or her out of slavery and into his kingdom of peace?
Come to the peacemaker Jesus Christ, loose the anger, and be a peacemaker.