Anger and Patience

November 1, 2021 at 5:15 am 1 comment


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Jesus’ words on anger in His Sermon on the Mount are incredibly challenging:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:21-22)

In His words, Jesus connects a feeling – that of anger – to a felony – the crime of murder.

These words are not just challenging for us in our context, where societal anger is on display on social media, on cable news, and in the streets and where personal anger can be found in homes, in workplaces, and in relationships across this nation, these words have been challenging ever since Jesus uttered them.

We see just how challenging Jesus’ words have been in an interesting textual variant found in some of the ancient manuscripts of Jesus’ sermon. Some manuscripts add the phrase “without cause” to Jesus’ words:

I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister without cause will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:22)

Though these words, according to the best textual evidence we have, were almost certainly not original, they are widespread among the ancient manuscripts. It seems that even in antiquity, people thought that a prohibition against being angry with someone without qualification was a bridge too far. But when we are angry, none of us believe our anger is “without cause.” We all believe our anger is justified or even necessary. Jesus reminds us that it’s not. Anger is not the answer to offense.

Solomon once wrote:

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. (Proverbs 15:18)

When we are tempted to become angry, patience is the key. For patience can produce what anger never can – peace. Patience can diffuse a situation instead of escalating it. And patient is what God was with us. In our sin, He waited for us to turn to Him in repentance.

Anger may make us feel better for a while, but patience can make the world better for the long haul.

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When the Heavens Open Not Much Lasts Forever

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kathy Walston  |  November 13, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Thank you, Pastor Zach, addressing anger since we not only have a Covid pandemic today but also an anger pandemic. Perhaps the two are related in that there is an underlying cause in both. A new virus in the case of Covid but the age old problem of fear underlying anger. Fear is that many-faced nemesis of us all that loves to masquerade as anything but itself. And since only perfect love casts out fear, we know that instead of trying to use anger to deal with it, we need Christ living within us to give us, as you so aptly sat, peace. Shalom.

    Reply

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