Be Angry But Do Not Sin

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” – Matthew 5:21-22 (MSG).

The “Sermon on the Mount” is difficult for me to read because it shines a light on my character every day, every time, and reminds me of something that needs changing.  This is why I should read it often.  Matthew 5:21-22 deals with the matter of anger and how words are so powerful that their misuse is tantamount to murder.  How true this is.  I have witnessed the negative impact of my anger on others, and seen the pain that harsh words can cause.  I have felt the same as well and still nurse deeply hidden hurts from words spoken years ago.  Whoever said “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” must have been a very different kind of human to me.

“In your anger, do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” – Ephesians 4:26 (NIV).

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life” Ephesians 4:26-27. (MSG)

Be angry, briefly; it’s human and can even be a positively motivating emotion.  Anger (or righteous indignation) has spurred many on to take definite action to correct a wrong.  However, festering in anger long-term is negative and can lead to vindictive actions, hurtful outbursts and even ill health in ourselves.

Do I still harbor anger in my heart towards anyone?  Do you?  We need to take this to God, ask him to shine his light on our hearts, get rid of all resentment and hidden anger, so that this does not bubble over into sinful actions and emotional murder.

We need to hate what is evil without hating the evil-doer; be upset at what is wrong, without setting up camp in the bog of annoyance.  May God help us all through the washing and regenerating power of his Word and his Spirit.

Life Focus: Putting God First When Things are Good

“The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must [continue to faithfully] follow Me [without hesitation, holding steadfastly to Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]; and wherever I am [in heaven’s glory], there will My servant  (John 12:24 – AMP).

I love living – sometimes.  There are days when the sun is shining, the bank accounts are healthy, relationships are flourishing and I think to myself – ah, this is the life!  There are other days when I find myself buffeted by all sorts of adversity and mishaps, when expenses jump out at me from the shadows to destroy well-laid plans, when relationships crumble, rifts occur, accusations are made and life just tastes like a bag of sour lemons filled with generous helpings of gritty sand.

In the latter situation I find it’s a lot easier to keep my focus on God – to make him the center and to despise this life, looking forward to that which is to come.  On the other hand, when things are going well, then God has more competition in my heart and mind; I’m tempted to be more occupied with matters geared towards furthering my own enjoyment and prosperity with less time to spare for spiritual matters.

This perhaps explains why it seems that people from poorer nations tend to be more religious.  They are less inclined to believe they can make it on their own and more willing to look up to a higher power for help.  Jesus did say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

All this does not mean that I think riches are evil, or that all happiness in this life should be shunned.  That’s just unscriptural and would lead to absurd results.  The love of money is the root of evil (1 Tim. 6:10), not money itself.   I do think however that we need to examine ourselves more carefully in the days of plenty to ensure that we are remaining attentive to the Father, living for Him, being willing to suffer and even die for him if called upon to do so.