In one of our recent Wednesday evening Bible classes, we were discussing the teachings of Jesus and how Jesus certainly raised the bar/standard as He went to the heart of the matter. I mentioned for example that we can all feel good about ourselves if we are able to say, “I haven’t killed anyone today.” However, Jesus didn’t just leave it at not murdering someone, but went to the heart of the matter regarding the internal emotional trigger that results in such outward actions such as murder. Notice what Jesus says in Matthew 5:21- 22a, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” He does the same thing in the following verses regarding adultery, pointing to where lust/desire begins in the heart (cf. Matt. 5:27-28). This would be in-line with what Jesus would say in Matthew 15:19-20 regarding what defiles a man saying in verse 19: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies.” So we certainly see that in Jesus’ teaching, He was aiming at the heart and the importance of guarding the heart.
During our discussion, a very good question regarding what Jesus said in verse 22 came up: “Was Jesus forbidding us to become angry at all?” If such is the case, then it would contradict other passages of scripture, for we find the apostle Paul telling the Ephesian brethren in Ephesians 4:26-27 to “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Such a conclusion would also make Jesus a hypocrite as we see in the instance of Mark 3 where Jesus is being criticized and questioned by the Pharisees and Jesus is noted as having “looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts (vs. 5a).” And of course, the instance where Jesus dispersed the money changers from the temple in John 2.
What we find from our study is that Jesus is not forbidding all anger, for anger is an emotion that is experienced by all, yea, even Jesus Himself. The issue is mainly in how the emotion of anger is used.
There’s a whole lot of scripture found about anger, such as the Proverbs 29:22 that speaks of “an angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.” We know what can come from one who is quick to anger, which is why we find in James the admonition to be “slow to anger” (James 1:19,20).
What we need to understand is the importance of what to do with that emotion of anger. Jesus’ anger was righteous. As noticed in Mark 3, Jesus was “grieved by the hardness of their (the Pharisees) hearts.” It was the righteous indignation that Jesus had because of the Pharisees offense toward God His Father. There’s a difference between anger that is righteous versus unrighteous. Jesus showed anger at sin that was offensive to His Father God. Just because we become angry and that is an obvious emotion experienced by even Jesus Himself, doesn’t mean that we can act however we want to. As we noted in Ephesians 4:26,27, Paul made it clear that we can certainly experience the emotion of anger at the many injustices and sinfulness that exists, but be sure to control it. Paul exhorted that we don’t let the emotion of anger fester, for such will lead to outburst, malice, bitterness and many other sinful things that could result. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 37:8, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.”
Friends, anger certainly has a proper place and time, righteous anger that is. We must learn the difference and learn to control this emotion and deal with it in a way that is pleasing to God. We must never allow Satan a place in our hearts, acting out in a way that is sinful and malicious as we know the old adage, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
There is so much to say on this topic, but hopefully this has helped a little. I appreciate the great discussions that we have in our Bible classes and am so thankful for the great questions that are asked. Don’t miss the opportunities to join in these wonderful discussions in on Wednesday evening Bible classes at 7PM each week!
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 😊