A Study of Matthew 5:21-26
Suggestions for constructing a good sermon:
1. First, make the introduction as interesting as you possibly can.
2. Second, make the conclusion as interesting as you possibly can.
3. Third, make the introduction and the conclusion as close together as you possibly can!
Reminds me of a pastor on one Sunday afternoon who asked his wife, “Do you think I put enough fire into my sermon?” She answered, “I don’t think you put enough of your sermon into the fire.”
The greatest message ever given is known to Christians as “the Sermon on the Mount.” Let’s pick up the sermon about a quarter of the way into it.
READ SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 5:21-26
If you don’t get anything else from this message…latch hold of this: ANGER IS SERIOUS BUSINESS!
Jesus has just compared it to what most of us consider the most serious of all crimes – the taking of another life in murder!
STAGES OF ANGER:
1. UNEXPRESSED Anger
But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. – Matthew 5:22a
Expressed or even unexpressed, anger is something for which someday we are going to have to give an account to the Lord. Sometimes a person will sit and soak in unexpressed anger for years. Anger against a brother or a sister that has harmed you; anger against an old workmate; anger against a neighbour, a child, a parent. Are you harbouring anger against anyone? The scripture clearly indicates that you will be subject to judgement.
2. EXPRESSED Anger
Again, anyone who says to his brother you are a fool is answerable to the Sanhedrin. – -Matthew 5:22b
The term ‘a fool’ means EMPTY.
The word alluded to mental emptiness. Our colloquialism today might be airhead, nitwit, bonehead, numbskull, blockhead, or doehead. One guy that wasn’t overly bright – he may have fit this category.
‘A fool’ was simply an insulting term used in anger against a person. In other words, if someone gets so angry with another that he looks at him and says, “You mentally worthless idiot!” we have not only gone too far but Jesus says that we will now have to pay the consequences for our expressed anger. In Jesus’ day, that meant the humiliation of going before the Sanhedrin and submitting to their “fine.” Never for a moment think that you are not going to have to pay for your expressed anger…there are consequences.
Jesus instruction is simple…don’t even begin to think of people as airheads or idiots. Afterall they are precious creations of God who fearfully and wonderfully made them and you will pay a price.
3. MEDITATED Anger
But anyone who says ‘you fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. – Matthew 5:22c
The term used in this third stage of anger is from the original Greek word moros. Can you guess which term we get from that? Yes, of course: moron.
Moros infers that a person lives a MORALLY wasted life.
This is not just an angry reaction, now you have thought about it and set yourself up as judge and jury and you have determined that this person is morally wasted. What is the consequence of this stage of anger? Such a person will be in danger of the fire of hell. Now be careful here. Do not put words into Jesus’ mouth. He does not say you go to hell; He says it brings enough guilt that you could be sent to hell.
1) Anger between FRIENDS
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24
We are going to close the service by the reception of communion…during that time, I ask you to ask the Lord if there is anyone we have offended. If the Lord flashes a name or a face onto your memory screen, please, this week: “go and be reconciled to your brother.”
Maybe it is a former business associate, maybe your marriage partner. Maybe it’s your ex. Maybe it’s somebody on the ball team or somebody who is furious with you at school, or an angry neighbour. Understand this: We cannot be right with GOD until we are right with OTHERS . – -Chuck Swindoll
The call is not that we be at peace with everybody but…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18
2) Anger between FOES (Matthew 5:25-26).
Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.- Matthew 5:25-26
The image here is of one being thrown into prison as a result of our angrily offending someone else. You know, there are many forms of imprisonment. Many who are totally enslaved and imprisoned in their anger have never seen the inside of a jail cell. Some of the worst kinds of bars are not made of steel. They are forged of bitterness and desires for revenge. If you have truly forgiven…stop talking about it!!!
So what do we do when we feel anger mounting? Let me offer you the four R’s that Dr. Newton Maloney offers in his book: When Getting Along Seems Impossible.
1. RE MOVE (Romans 8:28; John 3:16)
When anger starts to rise up, the best thing to do is remove yourself temporarily from the situation before it gets worse. Now I’m certainly not talking about giving the other person the “silent treatment” or “stonewalling”…this is just a temporary, excused, polite, removal – in order to be with the Lord. We would be saved from a world of hurt if we just excused ourselves before we do something we’ll regret. Like the couple whose lawn mower broke. The wife kept suggesting that her husband fix it, but he had golf games to play and the truck to work on. One day he came back from golf and there was his wife in the front “field” with a pair of tweezers – “cutting the grass”. He got embarrassed, went into the house and a few moments later came out with a toothbrush: “once you finish cutting the lawn, maybe you could sweep the driveway!” The doctors now say that he will walk again, although always with a limp! The moral of the story is this: Marriage is a relationship in which one side is always right and the other is the husband. No, no, no…the moral is – remove yourself from interaction until you can get peace back into your heart – to save yourself from doing something dumb!
2. RE MEMBER (Romans 8:28; John 3:16)
When we get away, remember this: we get angry when we feel somebody has disrespected us. I feel like you have not treated me like I deserve to be treated…so I get angry in order to try to put you in your place and restore my rightful worth.
Remember that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. You are precious to him. He loves you unconditionally. So how can someone else get us feeling like we are worthless and thus make us feel disrespected? We need to let this sink down into our hearts…
3. RE AFFIRM (Philippians 4:6-7):
Through reaffirmation we allow God’s truth to go deeper than head knowledge. The best way to accomplish this is through prayer. Through prayer, head knowledge becomes heart knowledge, insight becomes healing, truth becomes reality.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
4. RE PENT (1 John 1:9):
Once we are calmed down we need to repent and ask God to forgive us. For what? For forgetting about God’s care and his love for us to the point of us becoming anxious, angry and desperate.
5. RE ENTER (Matthew 5:25):
Once we have remembered, reaffirmed our worth and position in the Lord, repented, when we are calm and have the peace of God we are then ready to re-enter the disagreement free from anger that would have prevented any good from coming out of the discussion and try and work it out before you reach the court.
Celebrate communion and ask the Lord to speak.
The first step to overcoming anger is to confess it to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). You can do that as we receive the elements of communion today.
MONDAY MORNING MESSAGE / FRED G. CHILTON ©