Lesson 78—August 16, 2015
Anger—the Smoldering, Simmering Kind
Scripture: Matthew 5:21-22
Lesson Goal: To learn that anger in my heart is very serious to Jesus, and it should be to me as well.
Can you remember a time in your life when your anger damaged your testimony for Christ?
Can you think of a time when your anger hurt someone you love or care for?
Please honestly offer a time when your anger caused you to totally blow it.
In verses 21 and 22, one might think that Jesus is primarily speaking to the subject of murder and killing someone, but upon careful examination of this passage, we see that the primary focus of Jesus’ words is toward anger and getting angry. The Pharisees’ understanding and interpretation of the Law allowed them to feel good about their own actions, because they had not committed murder. While at the same time, they could have a heart full of anger and in their own minds be sinless and righteous. Jesus was not in any way relaxing the law’s standard concerning murder, but now He offers the proper interpretation by deepening the meaning as it applies to the heart. Jesus was in no way lessening the fact that murderers were subject to judgement, as described by the Law. He was helping people to understand that simply because someone boasts of the fact that they have never committed the physical action of murder, that did not make them righteous. The “not doing” of an outward action, such as murder, does not make one’s heart righteous before God.
Obviously we, followers of Jesus Christ, should not murder as stated by the Law, by Scripture and by Jesus Himself concerning the value, importance and gift of life.
• What are some Bible passages that speak to the value and importance of life? Please list these Scripture passages.
(V22) “But I say to you…”
Jesus was not destroying, doing away with, or abolishing the Law. He was giving a deeper and fuller understanding of the meaning of the Law. Jesus was explaining why God made that law in the first place.
The Pharisees could feel good about themselves and their righteousness as they read this law: “You shall not murder.” They would believe themselves to be righteous while at the same time they were in the midst of plotting Jesus’ death and destruction. They would keep their own hands clean from murder, but they would plot and enlist others to do the dirty work. Please read Mark 3:6. In the Pharisees’ minds, they were guilty of no sin for they did not, and would not, commit murder. They were living by the letter of the Law, but they were completely missing the spirit and intent of the Law.
• Have you ever used the letter of the law to your advantage?
The same violation of this law happens when people keep the letter of the law while assassinating a person’s reputation. The same violation occurs when someone uses others to destroy someone’s reputation, while keeping their own hands clean. Pharisaical thinking enables a person to think themselves righteous because in their own minds they are blameless of any action, while they have plotted, planned and manipulated circumstances, often through position, power, or financial resources, to bring harm or damage to an individual.
Jesus was not minimizing the action of murder or the penalty for it, but He, by His own authority, was offering the true interpretation of the law by giving an application that went beyond the literal action to include thoughts, words, motives and intent as well as the deed or action itself.
We should remember that not all anger is sinful. Please read Ephesians 4:26; John 2:13-16; Numbers 11:33.
How is it possible to be angry and not sin? Please answer prayerfully.
In verse 22, Jesus warns of unrighteous anger, but in this verse is also a solemn and direct warning often overlooked by casual reading. Jesus offers a severe warning to all of us concerning anger and the progression of it. We find in verse 22 the seriousness of anger in the heart of Jesus’ listeners. Let us notice the progression of this anger and the progression of Jesus’ severe warning: “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause…”
• How good are most of us at justifying the “cause” in our own minds, in order to justify our anger?
Jesus teaches us that one who “is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.” Judgement is not a good thing. To be angry with a brother without a cause will put one in danger of the judgement. The Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament tells us that the word “angry,” found in this portion of the Scripture (verse 22a), is orgizōmai which means “to be angry, brooding anger, simmering anger.” When we allow this anger to be nurtured in our hearts by our flesh, it continues to burn, smoldering until it reaches the fiery point. John MacArthur explains that this is the anger that cherishes resentment and does not want reconciliation.
The “judgement” of verse 22a is a reference to the civil court where those guilty of murder and deserving of the penalty of death by execution were brought to be judged.
Jesus wants us to understand this “anger” stuff is not something to take lightly, laugh at, or to boast in. Anger is not to continue to simmer in our hearts until it reaches the boiling point.
• May God help us all! Is there an anger that boils in your heart toward someone or something that you have labeled “righteous anger,” but the Holy Spirit of God is revealing to you that you have let it simmer much too long?
• Is this simmering anger affecting your walk with Christ?
Have you been able to conceal this anger form the multitudes, family and friends, but it burns inside of you? Would you like to be delivered and released from it? Right now, as you study this lesson, you can repent of this anger and ask God to release you from it. You can find a freedom from the resentment caused by this anger.
Anger can rob us of so many blessings. It can steal away our joy of living life.
• Is anger robbing you of the joy that Jesus wants you to have?
From my heart to each of you, anger can be like a poison or cancer slowly eating away at your heart. Often what makes this anger so dangerous is that we have convinced ourselves of its validity and justification. This anger can smolder in our hearts for days, months, and even years. Usually, this kind of anger is directed toward someone. We may be able to continue to live life in a “business as usual” kind of way, but deep inside our hearts we know that this anger lurks, simmering and waking us up in the late hours of the night without any notice or expectation. In fact, we may think it is gone, but then it shows itself when we least expect it and we know it’s still there simmering and smoldering.
• Would you ask God to show you if there is unrighteous anger smoldering in your heart. Please be honest and open to the voice of God.
• What has the smoldering and simmering anger in your life cost you?
Complete this statement: I have never murdered anyone, but I have let the smoldering and simmering anger in my heart…
I love each of you, and I thank God for the opportunity to be your pastor, teacher, and shepherd.