READ: Matthew 5:21-26
- As Jesus will do six times in this text, He says, “But I say to you…” He is obviously going to speak to the interpretations His listeners have given to what they already know. And, since He said no one should “relax” one of God’s laws, He must be going to doing something that makes the law more rigorous. Or is He? Maybe what He’s going to do is simply get at the heart of the issue instead of dealing with resulting action.
- Verse 22 is a classic example of synonymous parallelism. The opening line, “Everyone who is angry…will be liable to judgment,” is repeated by a line that restates the same idea. Jesus says, “whoever insults…to the council” and then, “who says ‘You Fool’ … to the hell of fire.” Proper reading of parallelism would indicate that these are not gradations of intensity but simply restatements of the same issue. To be angry and express it in insults or invectives results in judgment, envisioned as before the courts of heaven and resulting in punishment.
- The key is quite simple. Murder is an outward act that is wrong. But, more important, is the anger that produces that act of murder. If we are to treat others as we want God to treat us; if we are to treat others commensurate to the way God sees them, then we have to treat people with respect. We have to control our deep seated anger and respond with respect and kindness. It doesn’t mean we have to approve or appreciate their actions, but we have to take control of ourselves.
- How do you respond to this statement: “most anger is driven by a sense of personal affront”?
- Why do you suppose Jesus elevates the idea of treating others with more respect than to speak harshly of or to them?
- What circumstances produce the quickest reaction from you? What do you do to stop being reactive?
PRAY: Confess your anger issues to God. Ask God to help you see others (a specific other?) more like He sees them. Seek the heart of God for others.