Lessons from Matthew 5: Anger and Restoration
After teaching about a Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic Law and then describing His fulfillment of that Law, Jesus gave six illustrations of the Christian’s relationship to the Law in Matthew 5:21-48.
Here Jesus transitioned into the motives behind the laws and the ways in which the teachers of the law were trying to cover up their wrongs and mask their sins.
Jesus said yes, you have rightly heard that to murder another human being is to visit judgment upon the perpetrator. But then He went on to say, let’s go deeper here. I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will also be subject to judgment.
Anger and Restoration
There are 2 kinds of anger: righteous anger and unrighteous anger.
Righteous anger is anger at sin and sin’s effects on us and on others. Jesus himself acted with righteous anger when He overturned the tables in the temple, for the people were being taken advantage of and it was happening in His holy temple. Money changers and merchants were misrepresenting God and His intentions for their own financial gain. Jesus had every right to be angry at their attitudes and actions.
But in his anger He always had control, and He never sinned in that anger.
His example still stands for us today. We should hate sin and its effects but we are never to act out in anger or hatred towards another because of it.
God’s righteous anger should cause us to weep and pray over the sins of others and seek His healing and restoration on their behalf.
And though murder is a horrible sin, Jesus said it is just as bad to harbor anger or hatred towards another believer. The Bible has a lot to say about anger (you can look it up in your concordance). Here are two examples:
- Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” This means deal with it quickly; don’t let it simmer or stew into something more than it should be.
- Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Hopefully you can see the progression here.
Anger and hatred is just another form of murder, not a physical murder but a murder of the heart, and every time we gossip about another person we are murdering their reputation with our tongue.
The Scriptures tell us that God himself is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. We must remember that in God’s kingdom there is no place for anger or hatred. And so it must be dealt with quickly. We are to go as far as we are able to make amends.
In verse 22 of Matthew 5, Jesus said to those who refuse to hold their tongues and lash out at others: Be careful, very careful, that your own tongue doesn’t send you straight into hell. Later in Matthew 12:34 Jesus stated that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, reminding us that when we speak out we reveal what is really inside of us.
What do your words tell others about you? What kind of words come out of your mouth?
This is an indication of what your heart is really like! And deeper than that, God sees and knows all our hearts, the words spoken but more importantly those words unspoken. Though we may be able to fool others, we can never fool God. He knows who we are inside and out!
Therefore Jesus said if you come to Him and bring your offering, whatever that offering might be (an offering of prayer, an offering of service, a gift of money, or a tithe), keep it until you go and seek reconciliation with the one you are at odds with. Then come back and offer up your gift to God.
Make every attempt to make peace and be restored one to the other. Do it before things go too far and get so out of hand that you both end up standing in front of the courts. You may be handed over to an earthly judge to decide your fate and face the possibility of being thrown in jail.
As Christians we represent God and we need to go as far as we are able to live and act like it, seeking peace, reconciliation, and restoration.
This is how others identify us as His. It’s the law of love above all rights, or sacrifice, etc. If we claim to love God and yet hate others we are guilty of being hypocrites! Our attitudes towards others reflect our relationship with God (I John 4:20).
I know firsthand that there are times we can do all of these things and still suffer from others’ fury and rebellion. That’s on them. Our part is to do what we can and to pray for them! Never, never, never stop praying for them.
You never know what God might do in them!