Daily Devotional 5-14-20

TRANSCRIPT

You know, in Matthew chapter five Jesus begins what is famously known as the Sermon on the Mount. And he talks about six areas of life: anger, sexual lust, marriage, dishonesty, retaliation, and hate. And he begins in verse 21 with these words, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder'” (NASB).

It’s interesting that Jesus begins those six areas of life with the area of anger. Even more interesting that he begins by comparing it to murder. And the reason I think he did that was because Jesus is a master teacher. And what Jesus knew is that most of us would read the first half of verse 21 and wholeheartedly agree with him. He’s talking about the sixth commandment in the 10 commandments. And he says, you have heard the ancients were told you shall not commit murder. And if you’re like me, you would’ve read that verse and checked the box and said, “Jesus, I can wholeheartedly say I haven’t done that.”

Listen, he goes on though. “And whoever commits murder will be liable to the court.” And again, if you’re like me, you would have no problem affirming that. But watch in verse 22: “But I say to you, everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, Rocca shall be guilty before the Supreme court; and whoever says, you fool shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell” (Matthew 5:22).

You see, Jesus had this masterful way of drawing us in to the real issue and that is what is going on in my heart. Do you know that when surveys are taken and people are asked, why don’t you follow Jesus Christ? One of the top reasons is not because I don’t believe in Jesus, but it’s the life has followers are living. In other words, am I living a life that is albeit imperfect, but true to what Jesus wants me to be doing or am I being a hypocrite?

It’s known that Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians because your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I’m wondering in these six areas, but for today in the area of anger, if my life looks more like Jesus’ or less. Now you may say, “Yeah, but Greg, Jesus got angry. God got angry.” And you’re exactly right. That’s called righteous anger.

In fact, in Psalm chapter seven the Psalm says, God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day. We know in Joshua chapter seven the writer tells us the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel. And of course the famous passage in the gospels where Jesus flipped over tables when they were desecrating his father’s house. Sometimes we use that as justification to get angry, but I’d be willing to bet more times than not, your anger looks a little bit more like getting annoyed with people’s habits, locking your keys in the car, keys in the car, decisions made by our government or by our bosses, losing our remote control. That tends to bring us to a state of anger.

And I think what Jesus is simply telling you and me today is anger is birthed from the heart. The reason that you and I get angry is because in our heart, in our heart of hearts, there is some sort of hatred or frustration that is boiling up and eventually spills over. The Bible has much to say about anger including in the book of Galatians the deeds of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit. One of the deeds of the flesh is anger. In Ephesians chapter four Paul says, be angry and yet don’t sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. In James chapter one James says, the anger of a man does not achieve the righteousness of God. And finally, in Ephesians six, Paul says, fathers do not provoke your children to anger.

Anger is a powerful emotion that as believers we must get a hold of so that we can be the people that God wants us to be.

One practical way I’ll leave you with in terms of dealing with my anger if that should be your case is what Jesus says in Matthew chapter five and that is immediate reconciliation. He says in verse 23 “If therefore you’re presenting your offering at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponents.”

The next time you and I feel like we’re getting that point of anger and maybe even spill over into an outburst, can we take Jesus’s cue here? Go to that person. Seek immediate reconciliation. It will do wonders for you in that person and wonders for your walk with the Lord.