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Stop the Killing Spree! (4 of 12)
Series: Counter-Cultural Christianity
"I hate you!" "I wish you were dead!" "You're stupid!" "You're worthless!" "I want a divorce!" "I wish we never had you!" "I wish you weren't my parents!" Have you ever uttered any of these statements? If we're honest, at one moment or another we have all spoken hurtful and hateful words. Yet, typically, most of us dismiss such comments by saying, "You really made me angry." "I lost my temper." "I didn't really mean it." Or the ever pathetic, "I was just joking." While it is tempting to minimize our angry words, thoughts, and attitudes, the truth is there can be danger in anger. This is fitting since anger is only one letter away from danger.
In one of the old Peanuts comic strips, Charles Schulz shows Sally trying to locate her memory verse for Sunday School. She has forgotten it, and can't locate it in the Bible. She is lost in her thoughts trying to remember the reference when she suddenly says, "Maybe it was something from the book of Reevaluation." Sally's butchering of the book of Revelation is apropos, for the entire Bible is aimed at getting people to reevaluate their lives. In Matt 5:21-26, Jesus forces us to reevaluate our conception of anger. In these six verses, Jesus imparts two exhortations that will help us have healthy relationships. He says, "Nurture and esteem your relationships."
1. Recognize that unrighteous anger is murder (5:21-22). Previously, in 5:20, Jesus said that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. Now He stops preaching and starts meddling! Seriously, Jesus could have tackled any subject but He begins the body of His sermon by dealing with anger—a sin that many of us struggle with. In 5:21 Jesus says, "You have heard that the ancients [the Israelites] were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'" The opening phrase "you have heard..." al ...
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