Week 3: Matthew 5:21-30 – Anger, Judgement
Date: September 23/24
Writer: Tracy Edwards
Since Adam and Eve, we have been notoriously bad at determining for ourselves what is good and what is evil. Often, we have a double standard. We believe hate is bad, unless hate is on our terms. We don’t like being judged, unless it lands in our favor. God turns our idea of hate, judgement and forgiveness on its head by reclaiming God’s authority to define good and evil. Man cannot define these terms, God does, and when we begin to see hate or judgment from His perspective, it changes everything.
We live in a world of double standards. I see this constantly in the media, in the community around me and even in my own family. We love to be the first to point out someone else’s mistakes or wrongdoings and quick to justify our own mistakes and wrongdoings. We hate to be told that we are wrong, we are quick to get angry and defensive. But if we look at God’s Word it tells us a different story.
I remember growing up feeling such anger towards my sisters and even my parents when I didn’t get my way, when we disagreed or they did something I didn’t like. I felt justified in my anger because I felt they had done something wrong to me. When they tried to speak to me about my actions and I wouldn’t listen. I wish I could say I’ve matured and moved on from this behavior with my family, husband and kids, but unfortunately this anger can still surface. Anger can be just below the surface, ready to appear at a moment’s notice. We may try to justify our anger, telling ourselves we were wronged or making comparisons, “We’ll I get angry and yell but at least I don’t hit anyone or worse like other people do.” Anger, justification and judgement of other people comes so naturally that sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing it.
But let’s look at what God’s tells us about anger and judging others. In Matthew 5:21 –22, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
The Ten Commandments tells us to not murder. Of course, we’re thinking, “No problem, I can handle that, I could never imagine murdering someone.” But in Matthew 21-22 God said even if we are angry with a brother or sister that we will be subject to the same judgement as those who murder. WOW! So this is on a whole new level. But can we even control our anger? Does this mean we can should never feel anger towards someone?
Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” We are all going to feel anger towards someone from time to time, but when we act on the anger in sin or judgement of others that is when we are subject to judgement from God. As we continue in Matthew 5:23-25, it echoes this notion that if you are angry with someone to reconcile with them quickly. It says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
God knows how anger and judgment of others is toxic to our lives. If anger is not dealt with quickly, it can become a road that leads to damage and is destructive. I know in my life when I’ve let anger fester without resolving the matter quickly, it eats away at me and affects every aspect of my life.
God’s calls us get rid of our anger. In Ephesians 4:32 it says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We are called to replace anger and judgement with compassion and forgiveness. We can’t do this alone. In those times, when all I want to do is hold on to the anger, justify my actions and compare my sins to others sins, I feel the Holy Spirit calling me to repentance and forgiveness. God forgave our sins and we in turn should forgive as we are forgiven. Colossians 3:12-14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
In a world where anger and judgement is not only tolerated but often celebrated. I want to live in this truth that the Holy Spirit is continually transforming my heart to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient person. Not of my own determination, but because God has changed me into a new creation.
Reading: Matthew 5:21-25, Ephesians 4:26-32, Colossians 3:12-14
- Is there someone who you have unresolved anger towards? What steps can you take today to resolve that anger?
- What specific steps can you take today to forgive someone who has wronged you?
- Do you naturally tend to judge other’s actions and turn a blind eye to sin in your own life? Ask the Holy Spirit to point out any sin in your life that you need to repent of and where you can show compassion and mercy?
- Regarding our anger towards others and our judgment of others, how can we demonstrate God’s Kingdom in the valley as it is in heaven?
- Peace with others equals peace with God.
Title: Good vs. Bad
Bottom Line: We need to look at what is good vs. bad according to what God says is good and bad, not what others say.
Verse: “Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NCV
Drive Time: It’s very common for us as adults to get angry or frustrated when driving, particularly when other drivers make mistakes. Talk to your child about a situation where you got angry when you were driving. Share with them how your first reaction was to get mad at the other driver. However, as you’ve been learning about the connection between our heart and our actions, you’ve chosen to be kind and loving towards that other driver and forgive them just as Christ forgave you. Ask your kids to hold you accountable in this area. They will!
Passage: Matthew 5:21-30; Jesus wants me to follow Him by being slow to anger
Bath Time: As you bathe your child, remind them sometimes everyone gets angry. Ask your child to show you what being angry looks like by splashing and make silly faces while in the bath. God gave us feelings, but sometimes we let those feelings cause us to make bad choices and hurt other people. We can ask God and our friends to forgive us if we get too angry. We can also ask God to help us not get so angry next time.