Is Anger the Root Cause of Your Spiritual Death?
St. Matthew 5: 21-26
The Feast Day of our Patron Saint – St. Thomas
I hope and pray that the Feast Day (July 3) of St. Thomas will be a time to contemplate the life of St. Thomas the Apostle as someone who offers us inspiration to be Worshipers of Faith. Let us process our doubts with the help of Jesus. It’s not always easy to believe…St. Thomas represents many on the road of discipleship who need the reality of Jesus’ presence to be “hands-on.” Perhaps, we can help those “doubters” to meet Jesus who in turn will allow them to touch his wounds and come to a moment of exclamation, “My Lord and My God!” What a wonderful experience to know that Jesus Christ is really alive and active in guiding us on our earthly journey of faith, hope and love. St. Thomas the Apostle was then sent to bring the experience of a relationship of Jesus to others especially in India. He suffered martyrdom for his faith without regret whatsoever. Let us pray for our Patron to intercede on our behalf to fulfill the Mission of Jesus Christ across our Church.
With this thought, St. Mathew 5: 21-26 tells us how Jesus interprets and explains the Law of God. Five times he repeats the phrase: “You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, in truth I tell you!” (St. Matthew 5: 21, 27, 33, 38, 43). Before, He had said: “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; no, I have come not to abolish, but to complete them” (St. Matthew 5: 17). The attitude of Jesus before the Law is, at the same time, one of breaking and of continuity. He breaks away from the erroneous interpretations, but maintains firm the objective, which the Law should attain: the practice of a greater justice, which is Love.
Today, we continue to wake up with news of another mass murder: Orlando shooting that killed 49 and the terrorist act at the Istanbul airport killing 41. Anger and hate are growing problems in our society. Anger, animosity, hatred, and murder is spreading throughout society, even to our children. When is someone going to stand up and say, “The solution is not political? It’s not to be found in more laws and regulations. The solution is not economic. The real solution is spiritual.”
Let us look into the root cause of murder, which is anger and hatred. The apostle John said, “Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer. . .”. The word translated “angry” (ὀργίζω) is a strong word, and it means to be wrathful. Anger often boils over into hatred. There is such a thing as righteous anger. God is characterized a number of times in the Bible with this kind of anger. The Bible says He is angry with the wicked every day. On a few occasions Jesus exhibited such anger. Some of us ought to learn how to express a little bit of righteous indignation about some of the things that are going on in our country. But we ought to have the kind of anger that is not sinful. The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). There is a right kind of anger. However, the anger Jesus is talking about here is selfish, sinful anger that is directed toward another person in a hostile, harmful fashion.
When you get angry with someone and do not deal with it, you will usually move to the next level of anger – Calling Someone Stupid – When we get angry with someone, we may attack their mental ability. Jesus said, “Whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.” Anger usually moves from the heart to the mouth. “Raca,” is probably Aramaic and means, “You blockhead” or “You empty-head” or “You idiot.” Though we are not sure exactly what it means, we do know that it was intended as a verbal expression of scorn and contempt against a person. It is a sneer. It is a slur. Have you ever become angry with someone and called them stupid? If so, you have allowed your anger to hurt someone. It can be especially damaging to a child
And if you do not deal with your anger, you will not be content to call someone stupid. You will move on to the next step of: Calling Someone a Fool – Jesus also says, “But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” The word “fool” is a term of contempt for a person’s character. It is to call a man a reprobate or a rebel regarding God, a serious charge. Psalm 14:1: ‘The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. . . .” Apparently, this was even a worse thing to say to somebody. The Greek word is μωρός. We get our word “moron” from this word. Haven’t you heard some say, “You moron!” So when spoken in anger, this is similar to a curse word. It is sinful indeed. Some people are fools and they need to be corrected. Jesus called the Pharisees, “Fools” as part of a spiritual rebuke (St. Matthew 23:17). But here, the Lord is speaking of someone who gets so angry that they unjustly attack another person’s character, even calling them the worst name possible, a fool, a reprobate. Have you ever attacked someone’s character in anger? If so, you have hurt them and damaged their spirit.
Finally, if you do not resolve your anger, you could even move on to the next step of: Committing Physical Murder – You say, “I could never do that.” I am sure there are many people on death row who never thought they would commit murder, but because of unresolved anger, they did. Jesus refers to the command against murder. The story of Cain and Abel is an example of jealous anger that led to murder.
There are many negative consequences of sinful anger. If you do not resolve your anger quickly, it can do more harm to you than the person you are angry at. If we recognize the bad consequences of anger, it should help us to avoid anger, or seek a resolution for our anger. What are the results of sinful anger? First of all, there will be: Health Consequences – Do you realize that anger has adverse health consequences, especially if it is not resolved quickly? Your blood pressure and heart rate will rise. The rate and depth of your breathing will increase. The muscles of your arms and legs will tighten. You will become more aggressive. You will be under more stress. Over time, unresolved anger will contribute toward heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses-Your Anger Can Kill You.
Secondly, anger can lead to: Relational Consequences – How many marriages have broken up due to unresolved anger? How many parent/child relationships have been damaged by sinful anger on both sides? How many friendships have ended because of anger? So many other relationships have been damaged or severed due to sinful anger. Family and friends are too important to allow this sin to divide.
Finally, there are: Spiritual Consequences – There are two spiritual consequences that I see in our text. First: Unresolved Anger Can Reveal Your Spiritual Destiny – Jesus warns that if you allow anger to keep rising in your heart, you “shall be in danger of hell fire.” Literally, it is the “fire of Gehenna,” a reference to the Valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the garbage dump was. It was always burning. Bodies of criminals would be cast into that burning dump. Jesus says, “That’s a picture of the eternal hell that all murderers will go to,” and if you have hatred in your heart, that can show that you have never truly been saved, and you are in danger of going to hell! Here Jesus shows that God’s Law can be broken with the heart, and not just with the hand. In St. Matthew 15:19 Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,….” Anger that issues forth in such ugly words that we have been talking about can indicate an unconverted, unrepentant heart.
Unresolved Anger Can Affect Your Worship – “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Jesus indicates here that you cannot worship God if things are not right between you and someone else. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” There is no way you can worship God if ill feeling exists between you and another. I John 2:9 declares: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother remains in darkness.”
Have you had trouble worshipping the Lord lately? Have you had trouble praying like you should, and feeling the presence of God, even in your own quiet time? Perhaps the problem is not a vertical problem but a horizontal problem. We will never be able to worship God and feel His presence as long as anger toward others has a foothold in our hearts.
As you can see from all these consequences, it’s a terrible price to pay to let anger in your heart. Life’s too short to have ill will, hostility and malice in your heart toward other people. Regardless of what some other individual has done to you, it does not justify you to have anger, malice, and ill will in your heart. That gives that person control over you and you are in a terrible prison when you let somebody else’s actions control your actions.
So Jesus is saying that if we become angry, and do not resolve it quickly, we are in peril of various consequences, many of which are very serious. Knowing the terrible consequences of unresolved anger, and out of love for that person, we should be willing to go and talk to them, and seek to resolve the problem. Has anger entered into one of your relationships? If so, I want you to heed the warning of Jesus regarding the terrible consequences of unresolved anger. Do not let the sun go down today before you get the matter resolved. Do not gamble with your soul. Repent of your sin and trust in Jesus as your Savior. Settle the matter out of court. Please do not delay. Reconcile and be saved by His Grace today! Let us come to a moment of exclamation in our lives as our Patron Saint said, “My Lord and My God!”