Forbidden Anger

Church of Christ ScripturesMatt 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother is subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother ‘Raca’, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

In the Greek, there are two words translated as ‘anger’. One is ‘orge’ and refers to violent passion, indignation, long-lived vengeance and wrath. The other is ‘thumos’ and refers to anger that flares up quickly and quickly passes. Jesus forbids ‘orge’ that broods, is unforgiving, refuses to be pacified, and seeks revenge. We must banish that sort of anger form our hearts. (Eph 4:26-27) Jesus got angry, but the anger was at the hardness of hearts, not some personal insult or injury – mark 3:5. The Jewish teachers said that there were three classes that went to Gehenna – the adulterer, the one who shames his neighbor, and the one whom insults his brother’s name. Anger shows up in a person’s speech.

The term ‘Raca’ was always said with the attitude of contempt. It meant brainless idiot, empty-headed, or blunderer. It was said from a sense of superiority due to birth, money, or supposed knowledge. God said we should never look with contempt on any person for whom Jesus died -2 Pet 3:9.

The term ‘You fool’ comes from the Greek ‘moros’ and is not a criticism of the intellect, but rather of the morals. It was used to describe someone who had lived an immoral life. To call someone a ‘fool’ was to take his good name and reputation from him, and cast doubt on his moral character. Jesus said that the gravest thing one can do is to destroy another’s reputation. The gossip that destroys people’s reputation is a hell-deserving sin.
So what Jesus is teaching is this: In the judgment of God, long lasting anger is bad, contemptuous speaking is worse, and talk that destroys a person’s good name is the worst of all. The man who does these things may never commit murder outwardly, but he is a murderer at heart. Matt 18:1-6

May we think on the responsibility we have for our words – Eph 4:29-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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.”

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Church of Christ DevotionalsMatt 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men that they are fasting. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it is not obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father , who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly.”

Fasting was an essential part of religious life in Eastern countries. For the Jew, there was only one compulsory fast – the Day of Atonement – Lev 16:31. But the religious Jews made great use of private fasting. It was the custom to fast from the death of a relative until the burial, or to show sorrow for sin, or as an appeal to God in times of physical or spiritual need. Occasionally a time of fasting would be declared for the whole nation as a sign of national repentance – Judges 20:26.

While fasting was supposed to represent devotion to God and repentance for sins, it had the potential to be done for improper motives. One might fast as a sign of ‘superior piety’ – Luke 8:11-12. One might fast to show others how ‘devoted’ he was in order to gain their praise and admiration. So Jesus warns His disciples about fasting for the wrong reasons.

While we as Christians are not commanded to fast, there are some practical reasons to do so:

• healthy eating habits – makes us think about what we eat
• self-discipline – we learn to deny ourselves and break habits
• it teaches us to distinguish between needs and wants
• it teaches us appreciation of what we have
• it makes us more sensitive to spiritual things by sharpening senses

Jesus condemned the wrong kind of fasting- when it was done for outward show. But nowhere does the Bible encourage Christians to avoid the practice of fasting. We would do well to consider our own situation, and if fasting would help us get our lives into the proper perspective. However, we must follow the instructions of Christ and do it privately, so that it will not be obvious to others. Fasting is to be between the individual and God. In fact, Jesus condemned any religious practice when it was done for show. If we do things to impress men, we will get no reward from our Father. (He knows our hearts and our motives) What would the Lord say about the way that you ‘practice’ your religion? Is your heart right with God?

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