We’ve all got anger issues. Most of us probably wouldn’t need to think too hard to remember a few times recently when we got angrier than we should have—and probably said or did something we shouldn’t have.
It might’ve been only yesterday when you got mad at your spouse and made sure to let him know about it. And your kids—they can get you riled up quicker than anyone, right? Or your parents, dorm-mate, or friends?
It’s funny how it’s often the people closest to us who set us off the quickest.
Only it’s not really funny at all.
You probably recall these words:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:21-22).
This passage speaks to us more directly than we’d like to admit. It’s wrong to murder, Jesus says, but everybody already knows that. He goes further: it’s also sinful to get angry or hurl epithets at the people around you, particularly people in your spiritual family (your “brother”).
He uses the word “Raca” (“insults his brother”), an Aramaic word that means something like empty-headed. “You fool!” connotes immorality and godlessness, as well as idiocy (Blomberg, Matthew, p. 107).
But I don’t think he’s as concerned about the actual words as he is about the anger they reflect and the insults they convey.
Don’t insult people by using epithets or any other kind of degrading speech. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t mock them, criticize them, or make fun of them.
More importantly, deal with your anger. Ask yourself why you lose your cool. Is it selfishness? Is it pride?
It’s one thing to feel good about ourselves because we don’t struggle with violence . . . at least we don’t do that like some people.
As he always does, Jesus goes deeper than that. He goes right to our hearts and asks, “I’m glad you don’t murder, but what are you doing with your anger?”