If you call someone an idiot…
Matthew 5:22 In an illustration to the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches a lesson about anger and hate
“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
Matthew 5:22 NLT
More often than not, doing research on my random devotional topic for the day convicts me of sin. Let’s take today’s verse, for example. My sacred lots (actually just a random number generator) gave me the number 3, which corresponds in the Bible app to the general topic of anger. Glancing at the list of applicable verses, this comment from Jesus to the assembled crowd at the Sermon on the Mount jumped out at me.
Why did it catch my attention? Because when I’m in the car and someone endangers me and my passenger through their reckless and irresponsible driving, I usually make comments like “Did you see that moron?!” or “You idiot!” I know full well that they can’t hear me, but it’s a very human way to express my anger without resorting to gestures that they can see…
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In this section of the Sermon, Jesus explains to the crowd what following the old Hebraic laws using the interpretation of the Pharisees and scribes would entail. He begins in Matthew 5:21 by pointing out the commandment that states that those who commit murder will be judged of that sin, then says that anyone with murderous intent (anger) in their heart is equally guilty!
Jesus isn’t equivocating the act of shouting at someone in anger and murder. Instead, he’s emphasizing that the Old Testament law condemns both a murderer and someone who is angry. God’s law addresses not just the end result of murder, but the root of murder — anger! He illustrates in a somewhat exaggerated way that anger directed at others is wrong, as it shows contempt for their intelligence and character.
Jesus brings the law back to matters of the heart. This commentary by G. Campbell Morgan explains — “The supervision of the Kingdom does not begin by arresting a criminal with blood-red hands; it arrests the man in whom the murder spirit is just born.”1
Fortunately, we Christians have forgiveness for our sins thanks to Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. It will certainly make our judgement a lot less cringeworthy if we confess to our random acts of anger towards others now, pray with a humble heart for forgiveness for those outbursts, and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us to not display our anger towards both those we know and complete strangers.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Jesus, you once again teach us that not only is murder horrible, but the hatred in the heart that prompts it is equally contemptible. Shine a light in the dark spaces of our hearts where we still harbor hatred and resentment, and let that light burn away our anger and contempt for others. In Your Holy Name I Pray, AMEN
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Morgan, G. Campbell "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Revell, 1959)