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.


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!



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.


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.


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.




Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument and one friend slapped the other in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.”

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied, “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”




A Disciple’s Ideas and Pride


A powerful story found in 2 Kings 5 -17 illustrates how we can allow our own preconceived ideas and pride to get in the way of God’s blessings: 


1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”  7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”  11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.  15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.” 16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.


In this familiar story we have a man who the world would say has everything – wealth, power, prestige, fame – but he also had a crisis in his life which he was powerless to change – the disease of leprosy.  Naaman was so desperate that he traveled from his own country to the humble home of a prophet who, he has been told by a young girl, could heal him – this was his last hope for saving his life.  


Imagine his shock and indignation when the prophet refused to even come out and speak to him, but sent instead his servant who gave him the prescription for his healing. – wash in the Jordan River 7 times.  

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A Disciple’s Life’s Accomplishments


One of the popular concepts in personal development today is drafting a personal mission statement.  For some this is a list of specific things they want to accomplish in their personal and professional lives during their lifetime.  For others it is a one or two sentence summary of their overall aspirations and the means by which they will seek to reach them. 


The truth is that each of us has a personal mission statement whether we have intentionally developed one or not because the actions, reactions and choices of each day are controlled by what we have decided we want to do and how we will do it, i.e. a personal mission statement .  The sum of the decisions we make reveal what our priorities are and the true nature of our character. 


Until we encounter the love of God in our lives and enter into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the overriding theme of our mission statement is a focus on self.  The change which Jesus Christ desires to bring about in our lives, which is so dramatic that He likened it to being born again, is to remove ourselves from the center of attention and instead focus our lives on loving God, serving Him and each other.


A Disciple’s Mission Statement


One of the best examples of a disciple’s personal mission statement is found in Romans 12:


1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.


Our mission and purpose should be to each day present all of our lives to Jesus Christ as a humble sacrifice of love for all He has done for us and commit to drawing closer each step of the way to the example of Jesus Christ; transforming our thoughts, actions and priorities by the renewing of our minds, instead of being conformed to the value structure of this world. 


One of the challenges we have in accepting God’s unmerited favor and forgiveness resulting in salvation and the commitment of our lives to God is that we do not want to accept the fact that we cannot do anything to earn or achieve salvation, God has already done it all.


This same attitude that causes us to delay accepting Christ into our lives appears again to try and keep us from moving on from a babe in Christ to a spiritually mature disciple. 


We are never totally free from problems,

   Accidents happen, sickness comes,

Mistakes are made, things break down,

   These are things that we all know well.


But there are times when it seems,

   Almost everything goes wrong,

And nothing seems to be going right,

   We don’t know how to get on top again. 


We become discouraged and depressed,

   God knows why you feel the way you do,

He promises to be there as you turn to Him,

   God will never leave you when you’re down.



Pray for China

Would you be willing to pray for your persecuted brothers and sisters during the Olympics?

The eyes of the world will soon be on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing China. And as we recognize this historic and international event and watch it on our TV, it is also a great time to be reminded of our brothers and sisters in this vast nation who are persecuted for their faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you join other believers in interceding for them at this time?

Please don’t respond to me…just say, YES and pass this along to a praying friend as you encourage them to join you and others in prayer.

Below are five stages of renewal as presented by Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. (christianpost.com). Please reflect upon these and see what God is saying to you.

Every time a new reformation has come, five renewals have preceded it. The awakening and reformation of the global church will begin with local churches and with the same five renewals preceding this movement.

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