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a Bible the Scripture passage is printed on the back of the bulletin insert. (ME) I want to tell you a little story about myself. Several years ago we had enrolled our boys in a preschool near our church offices in Johannesburg. They loved the school and the staff members were awesome (one was from Kansas). Just after we enrolled them we ran into some church problems. My associate pastor began going from house to house teaching a doctrine that Christ had not come in the flesh. He was teaching that Christ had some kind of special body that was not human. He was leading people astray from true Christian doctrine and he was undermining my responsibility of shepherding the flock by turning people against me. When I began to put the pieces of this thing together I quickly did what had to be done. I fired him from his job and excommunicated him from our assembly. I then taught for a few Sundays on the dual nature of Christ (human/divine) and asked all who agreed with this teaching to stay. If they did not believe it they were free to go. We lost about 30 people who went with my former associate to start another church and they were meeting in a building next door to my children’s preschool. One day I was in the office and got a call from the school. They asked me to quickly come because some people were at the gate asking for my boys to be sent out to go home with them. I had not given anyone permission to get the boys. By the time I got there, the people were gone but the principle described them too me. It was my former associate and some of the former church members. Needless to say I was livid. That might even be putting it mildly. It was one thing to threaten the church but to attempt taking my children was something entirely different. I got in my car and drove. The longer I drove the angrier I became. By the time I reached my former associates apartment I was - in all reality - ready to kill him. I walked up to the door - kicked it in - went in the apartment and drug him out. The more he resisted the more murderous I became in my heart. I had already thought through how to break his neck and I was prepared to do it.
But somewhere in the middle of all this the Holy Spirit brought me to my senses. I released the man from my grip. Told him that I would let the police know what he was up to and then I left. If it had not been for God - I would have killed the man and would probably be in jail to this day. (TRANSITION) Have you ever been that angry? (WE) It does not take much to get angry. We human beings have been given the capacity to be angry. In many cases if were not for the Lord or someone restraining us our anger may have led us down a horrible path. But anger can also be very sneaky. Someone ticks us off. At first we just play it off like its no big deal but in our mind and heart we are already thinking about how we will get our revenge. Then our attitude toward that person changes. Whenever we see them our blood pressure goes up a bit and we begin hoping this is the moment we can get back at them. Eventually, if we do not get control of ourselves, we start thinking that it would be good if that person were just dead. Sure, we may never physically kill them but we kill them in other ways gossip, manipulation, slander - off the cuff remarks making them look small or dumb or uninformed to others. (TRANSITION) Jesus tells us that we, as believers in Him, have to surpass the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. These religious people taught that only the actual murder of someone was wrong. BUT JESUS TELLS US THAT MURDER - REVENGE - ANGER is a much more serious offense. (GOD) If you remember last week we talked about how Jesus came to fulfill The Law and the Prophets. He often corrected the teachers of the Law for their misinterpretation of God’s commands. In the passages we just read Jesus is trying to correct people’s thinking about what “thou shalt not kill” means. I want to look at one paragraph at a time this morning - let’s read Matthew 5:21-22 21 “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.‟ 22 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. OK this passage does not require a huge amount of interpretation. Jesus says, “You have heard it said...:” ● 10 Commandments - but they were being interpreted through the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees (religious sects). ● Jesus begins with what the audience has known or been taught all their life - “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.” ● It seems however that something was not being taught correctly by the teachers of the law because Jesus says, “BUT I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment...” ● The teachers of that were apparently teaching that it is only a sin to ACTUALLY murder someone. Allowances were made for stopping just short of murder. ● The sense here is that you could beat someone or injure them just to the point of almost dying and that was permissible because you did not ACTUALLY murder them. ● Then Jesus takes it a step farther beyond just the physical action and to the VERBAL... “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.” ● WOW!! The rubber is really hitting the road now. Jesus is saying that not only is not permissible to do acts of physical violence but EVEN YOUR VERBAL INSULTS can lead toward a sinful path. ● I like the way Eugene Peterson interprets this verse in The Message... “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.” ● Jesus is trying to get us to understand that obedience to THE LAW is more than about what we do on the outside - it is a matter of obedience from the heart. In no small way Jesus is trying to get us to deal with WHAT CAN BECOME MURDER - a thought that begins in the heart and mind of a person. So, is Jesus telling us we CAN NEVER BE ANGRY. Well, in a word, NO! Jesus Himself became angry when He saw God’s house being abused for personal gain. I really think Jesus is
trying to tell us that when those thoughts of anger and revenge come into our minds - we as Christians who have the righteousness of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit - NEED TO TAKE THOSE THOUGHTS INTO CAPTIVITY AND SUBMIT TO CHRIST BEFORE THEY LEAD US TO UNCHRISTIAN ACTIONS. There are some things that we need to be angry about. Just this week I became very angry when I learned that someone was trying to run down the reputation of this church (and my own) to other ministers in the District. Now, can I allow this anger to lead me to something destructive, no. I must take it into captivity and find a way to help the person see the truth (if they will). Let’s read on... 23 “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. Here is that word, THEREFORE...Jesus is summing up what He just said in 21-22 by giving us the APPROPRIATE action we should take as believers when we are tempted to call someone STUPID or IDIOT or FOOL You have to think about this passage in light of The Law. Every sin required an offering to be made at the altar of the Lord. This offering was considered an act of worship that brought reconciliation between you and God. ● It is quite possible that Jesus is refuting some form of erroneous teaching by the religious leaders. It’s almost like they had been teaching that someone ONLY HAD TO MAKE IT RIGHT WITH GOD - and not with their brother. ● “Just fulfill the Law - make God happy and who care about your relationship with other believers or people in the community.” ○ I hear this teaching a lot in the church today. Just repent before God - He forgives and everything is alright - NOT!!! ○ Yes God forgives but He also expects us to LIVE IN PEACE WITH ALL MEN that means we have to do our best to reconcile with our brother. ○ Now I realize that it takes two to reconcile but whether we have been offended or been the offender we are under the Law of Love - we must do all we can to be agents of reconciliation. ● Jesus is telling His audience that RECONCILING with a brother is JUST AS IMPORTANT than making things right with God. As a matter of fact Jesus tells us to make it right with our brother or sister BEFORE we make it right with God.
If we have allowed our anger to get the best of us. If we have allowed our words to become hurtful to others. If we have let our emotions get the best of us - we need to REPENT and RECONCILE - BEFORE that anger and unforgiveness festers like a cancer and kills our walk with God AND KILLS OUR BROTHER OR SISTER. Somebody must have asked Jesus a question like, “Well, how long can I keep my anger and hostility against my brother before I have to make it right.” After all we have heard all our lives that “revenge is a dish best served cold.” Do you ever like to just stew in your anger? Come on - I know we do. We find ways to justify our attitude and our actions because “I WAS OFFENDED.” I want you to notice that Jesus looks at this reconciliation part from BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE. He DOES NOT lay the burden of reconciliation ONLY ON THE SHOULDER OF THE OFFENDER. But He also expects that the offended person will try to reconcile as well. After all, being offended can lead us to murderous - vengeful thoughts. Look at what Jesus tells us, 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.” We need to settle our issues quick. The longer things fester - the harder it becomes to reconcile. There is a real sense in this passage that Jesus is speaking of eternity in hell (remember he said earlier we might be in danger of hellfire). Why? Because brothers would not lay down their pride and settle matters. Instead, their anger took them farther and farther away from God. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27 that we should not let the sun go down on our anger. Why? Paul tells us that not settling our anger quickly, gives place to the devil (YOU) So, what can I do as a believer to manage my anger and work toward reconciliation. Let me offer some practical suggestions:1 1. Make the choice to get you anger under control. You can control yourself and the Holy Spirit will help you - stop and pray for help.
2. Surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When you do stop and pray listen to what the HS is saying and do it. 3. Don’t let small things build into big resentment. Do not wait to deal with things - take care of them the best you can when they are small. 4. Get your thoughts under control. How? Well, one you should pray. But also slow down and think about why you are angry and who you are angry at - write it out then destroy the paper. 5. Begin making a plan for reconciliation quickly so that the devil will have no place (to cause division - resentment - bitterness - etc.) (WE) What does all this mean as a church? So far we have talked about how we handle anger on sort of a personal level but how does this relate to the vision of the church? First, as a church we are committed to following Christ. As such, we have to be committed to being ambassadors of reconciliation. Instead of joining in on the latest gossip or dirt - we rise above it and speak the truth in love doing what we can to build bridges NOT BURN THEM. Second, Odessa First is committed to growing in Christ. This commitment means we learn, through prayer and the Word, to learn how to quickly shed anger before it leads us to wrong actions. We learn from our mistakes. But it also means that we practice church discipline - that is we follow the biblical pattern of discipline found in Matthew 18:15-20 1. First we go to the person and try to make it right. 2. Second, if the person refuses to hear then we take the matter to the church leadership (board or sectional leaders). 3. If still will not listen then we ask them to leave the assembly to act in whatever manner they wish without destroying the testimony of the church. Now I know this not a popular idea - but it is a biblical one. The goal is not to get to the third step. The goal is to reconcile at step one and settle the matter quickly. Third, we are committed to serving with Christ. That means as a church we will focus on OTHERS more than OURSELVES. I have found that when we are working together toward a common goal or purpose there's a lot less friction and offense. CONCLUSION Is there someone you need to make things right with this morning? ● Husbands - has your anger led you to saying harsh and damaging words to your wife?
● Wives - has your anger led you to an attitude where you use your words to subtly but publicly ridicule your husband? ● Mom’s & Dad’s - what has your anger led you to say or do to your kids? Sticks and stones may not break bones - BUT WORDS CAN AND DO KILL - THOU SHALT NOT KILL!!