Our sermon series for the next four weeks is Daily Discipleship, and this weeks topic is Anger Management. So in our reading from Matthew this is Jesus talking to us and it is from the famous sermon on the mount series of talks so first let’s look at some background to these talks and why Jesus gave them .
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded for us by Matthew offers us a way of life that promises eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. The teachings of Jesus were and are simple but unique and in there time ground-breaking and to some today they still are ground-breaking. He began teaching about 30 AD during the ruthless Roman occupation. At the time there were four major groups in the Jewish religion and community, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and the Zealots, all of whom presented a different viewpoint to the Jewish people. The Pharisees demanded strict observance of the Mosaic law expressed in the Torah, but also accepted the oral tradition of Jewish customs and rituals. The Sadducees were mainly from the priestly families and strictly accepted the Law of Moses but rejected oral tradition. The Pharisees, unlike the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the dead. Then there was the monastic Essenes who awaited a Messiah that would establish a Kingdom on earth and free the Israelites from oppression and some believe that John the Baptise was a Essene. Then we have the Zealots who were a militant Jewish group who wanted freedom for their homeland, and were cantered in Galilee; one of the Twelve Apostles Simon was called Simon the Zealot.
The Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, connected a series of “Thou shalt not” phrases and evils one must avoid in daily life on earth. In contrast, the message of Jesus is one of humility, charity, and brotherly love. He teaches transformation of the inner person. Jesus is showing just how deep negative thoughts, words and deeds go, Jesus is showing the virtues in life which will ultimately lead to a better life on earth and lead to spending eternity with the Father Son and Holy Spirit. At the centre of Jesus teaching is love the Love of God for us and how we should love others. Love becomes the motivation for the Christian.
All of Jesus talks have a simple meaning, that is, they promise us salvation - not in this world, but in the next. Jesus is saying that if we follow him and love one another then we will inherit the Kingdom of God and through Jesus we can experience some of that Kingdom now. So the Kingdom of Heaven is yet to come but can be hear now.
As you may remember earlier in the summer I went on a Christian conference with 16,000 other people and that is like experiencing the Kingdom of God hear and now, all the people being polite all the people being honest, book sellers just leaving there stuff out in the open where people walk around and one looking after it because they know no one is going to steel it. Christians living as best they can to what they think Jesus is asking them to do.
So let’s go back to our reading verse 21Jesus says “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ Ok that’s quite straight forward you murder someone and if caught on this earth there will be a judgment what that judgment is some may say it is not enough some may say it is too much, but a Judgment there will be, and the Bible tells us that there will be a Judgment when we go to meet our maker on the Judgment day.
But Verse 22 is a little harder to understand Jesus says 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Ok so let’s sort out this word Raca first, according to my bible concordance it means vain, empty worthless, it is only found hear in Matt. 5:22. The Jews used it as a word of contempt; it is a weaker word that fool.
So for us in short it is any form of anger or any form of saying native things to someone, now I would suggest that is all of us especially those of us who drive cars, Chris my wife says I cannot drive for more than five minutes before I find someone who in my opinion is a foolish driver.
Have you ever said what I say: “Well I mean come on mate I can get a lorry through that gap!” or “What are you waiting for? Christmas?” or “Hurry up, put it in gear and we will both get across the lights!” or “Come on, move it!” And there are no doubt many more. Anyone else suffer from these people on the road?!
Now I am sure we all understand that driving is not the only place we can and do get angry, we can get angry at any time and with anyone, husband, wife, sister, brother, mother father, friend, stranger. But all these people are what Jesus calls our neighbours. But I understand what Jesus is saying hear because now although I do call people a fool and other not nice names I very rarely get angry, I do get sad and disappointed if I know the person and fed-up or momentary depressed. But its ok, because there is no pit of anger to try and pull myself from. And Jesus is saying that God don’t like us being angary and that it has consequences in this life and the next.
In verses 23 and 24 Jesus says this “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
So in short Jesus is saying if you know or remember that someone anyone has a problem with you go and sort it out, don’t come to church or pray to God , knowing that you have a problem with someone, that will put a barrier between you and God.
A few years ago someone I know did upset me a lot and I held on to that and although I was attending church I was not feeling that God was there, people would say that was a great service or that was a good word and I would feel like an outsider in fact for a while I found I was blocking God out of my life because of this problem I was very angry with this person and it was disturbing me, so eventually I went and talked to them, all was loving resolved and the peace of God came back into my life. Sin blocks God out and if we are not loving our neighbour, if we hold things against people then that is a form of sin.
And in our last two verses 25 and 26 Jesus says 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.
Jesus is saying sort it out quickly, for two reasons. One none of us knows when we will breath our last breath, do we want to take all that hate to God on our judgement day, there will be a price to pay for what we do and what we do not do in this regard. And two, hate and anger left inside of us festers it will get deeper and it will consume us, forgiveness is a wonderful healer, a few years ago you may remember there was a spate of stabbings reported on the tv, the different parents came on tv asking for retribution asking for justice and then this one wonderful peaceful mum came on her face shining but with great sadness she said I forgive my son’s killer, and the tv people could not believe it they kept asking surly you want retribution you want them locked up locked up for life you must want retribution and this mum just said I forgive them because God forgives me. She was not torn by hate on her face I remember when I saw her on the news I sit up because she looked at peace she looked lovely Gods grace shone out of that mother who had lost her son in a stabbing, a senseless stabbing.
So the question is How is it possible to achieve this even in a small why. And the answer it is thanks to God’s grace that we can all achieve what Jesus is asking us to do. Grace is the unconditional love of God for us, exactly as we are, warts and everything it is not based on our own efforts.
But this grace has to be accepted in a certain way it is not just a free take away, Gods grace has a condition to it and that condition is that it is free to all who know and love him, Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God with all our hart and all our mind and all our soul. And if we accept this free gift of grace through a relationship with Jesus then as in all relationships we will want to give something back and we may start to ask the question “How can I thank You?”
For above all, we must return His love. Then listen and wait. And to do what Jesus said was the second commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves. And to help us with this Jesus said he would send his spirit what we call the Holy spirit and the Holy spirit is inside all who believe, it is that little calm voice telling us we should do the right thing.
So anger management is to listen to God through His Holy Spirit that is within us all.