Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 5, 2020
You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment. Matthew 5:21-22
Often the moral teaching of Jesus causes people to stop in their tracks. “Did Jesus really say that?” His vision of transformation is so complete, so total, that it often feels unobtainable, impossible to live out for even the most pious and devout amongst us. Take his teaching on anger, for example. Who hasn’t felt angry towards someone, frustrated or annoyed in times of weariness or weakness? Does a single, isolated momentary outburst set us on a fast track to condemnation? Thankfully, I don’t think this is what Jesus wants us to see and hear in these words.
Jesus’ moral teaching in this section of Matthew 5 is not primarily focused on a passing moment of anger, though of course that is not his best for us and is something we must tend to in faithful and intentional ways. The anger that sets us on a course to destruction is a deep-seated grudge that you accept into the core of your life and allow to take root. For example, I can snap at my children when I’m exhausted and they’re being disobedient (not the best combination!), though I do not believe this response comes from a place of deep resentment or hardened anger towards them! That is not what Jesus has in mind as he gives this teaching. Instead, as pastor and scholar Lawrence Farley puts it, “What is envisioned is a contempt that would write the other person off entirely. What Christ condemns here is the rage that implicitly denies the personhood and dignity of the other.”
These words are an incredibly helpful invitation to each of us today. The Lord invites you to tend to the deeper parts of your soul, the parts of your life that may be calloused and closed off to God and others, those dark places of pain and anger that have developed over many years and may be known to only you. Just because these emotions stay hidden beneath the surface does not meant they aren’t real and affecting you in countless ways. To summarize Jesus’ own words, you don’t have to murder someone to be sick and in need of the healing touch of God!
Anger, envy, lust, greed. These threaten to become deep-seated patterns of sin in our lives, and if we ignore them or press them down and pretend they aren’t there, we risk the loss of communion with God, not to mention our ability to see the dignity and value of others as men and women made in the image of God and dearly loved by him. Cling to Christ, and allow him to free you from the anger and bitterness that lives deep within.
Father, set us free from every snare and temptation that threatens to steal our joy and our communion with you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Take time this week to tend to the deeper parts of your life with God, the places inside that are easy to hide and ignore, but threaten to harden us and turn us away from God and others.
Anger that sets us on a course to destruction is a deep-seated grudge we accept into the core of our life, but forgiveness and love bring healing. #anger #WisdomHunters #Jesus #truth
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