This weekend Matt shared one of the best messages I have ever heard. The series is set to the sermon on the mount and Matt drew the tough straw to cover Matt 5:21-26. Matt Preaches on a lot more than I am going to mention in this article so it is worth the investment to watch. The following are my notes from his sermon with a bit of my added commentary.
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21 “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.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
The series is called Salt and Light so naturally Matt set the table by explaining that We bear God’s name by living out the heart of the Law. When New Testament authors speak, they often use the Torah in a mini sermon way. They simply mention something about the Torah and everyone knew the classical lesson. It was like saying, “Take this sermon that you would know and apply it to what I am saying.” Unfortunately today, we have lost this. We don’t think this way nor do we make these kind of quick “WORD” connections in the scripture. Even though the New Testament is written in Greek they are thinking in Hebrew and Hebrew makes connections to words in this way. Sometimes a simple word would trigger an entire set of Torah or law thought patterns.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
I have written on this verse before and preached a sermon on it last year. We have also had Carmen Imes on the x44 show before and interviewed her on her book, Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters. The word misuse is more literally rendered in Hebrew was to “carry in vain”. As matt exclaimed, “The purpose of this command is not about using God’s name as a swear (though that isn’t good). It’s about how Disciples and people of the Kingdom carry God’s reputation. When we dishonor God through our behavior it tarnishes God’s reputation.“
There is a great study in this section where (V21) Jesus says, “you’ve heard it said, but I tell you” And He says this 6 times in Matt 5. Each time Jesus is upholding that what the Law said was true and good but he’s getting at the intent of the law and not the letter. When Jesus says, “but I tell you” He’s contrasting what the true heart of the kingdom is against those who think they are walking in the kingdom but are really just following the “rules” without a changed heart.
It’s pretty easy for most of us not to murder someone… check that box and say we’re good.
Most of us don’t struggle with Murder. Right? I hope? Well Jesus actually turns this on the Pharisees and says that their sins of legalism of the heart might as well be murder. Murder is an act of treason against God. If you murdered someone you are essentially exclaiming, “I’m god over this person’s life”; yet that is also what you are doing anytime you live in legalism regarding the scripture. What Jesus is doing here is getting to these root issues of murder which is anger. He wants to get up stream of murder and get to the heart issues. He wants transformed hearts not just make a society of rule followers.
Anger pushes us in the same direction as murder in that we make ourselves judge over others.
Anger is natural. It is not necessarily evil. It becomes sinful based on what you do with it. This message had more one liners to take away than any message I have heard in a while. Here is one that stuck with me:
“Anger is a response that happens when our will is violated or when something we value is devalued”
The Holy Spirit functions in our life as a conscience. When we are on the brink of doing something contrary to the kingdom of God we get identifiers to help us. This goes both ways. When we continue not to see or listen to these identifiers or red flags, we become desensitized to them. Our conscience become seared and we easily ignore God in our life and minimize our ability to bear light. But when we are walking in the light, when we have accountability partners, when we are in the word regularly, when we are bathed in prayer, when our HEART IS RIGHT WITH GOD, then we regularly are guided by the spirit.
When we choose to ignore our spiritual “check engine (heart) light” we tend to improperly act on our anger. Anger is often rooted in pride.
There are two greek words for Anger:
- Thymos- a temper or flare up (literally means to get hot)
- Orgizo (Orge)- to brew over (to play it over and over in your mind)- This is the anger Jesus is talking about… though the other anger is also condemned in scripture.
Orgizo is an anger that creates bitterness and offense. We have all let this harbor and, in a sense, has held us back from our potential in the kingdom. When we let bitterness take root it not only effects out attitudes and actions towards our offenders, but we often take it out on those that we love.
This word for anger of “playing it over” is also a contranym (A contronym is a word that carries two opposite extreme meanings, in English consider refrain as singing something over and over again, and them using it as a way to ask someone to completely stop doing something) it can be used for “moved with compassion” (Mark 1:41- Jesus moved with compassion towards the hurting.)
QUICK WORD STUDY: orgízō – be angry, as expressing a “fixed anger” (settled opposition). 3710 /orgízō (“to show settled-opposition”) is positive when inspired by God – and always negative when arising from the flesh. “Sinful (unnecessary) anger” focuses on punishing the offender rather than the moral content of the offense.
Many of us always think God is on our side of disputes. The better thinking is to consider that you need to come to Jesus’ side of the dispute. We need to be careful that we don’t assume that God is on our side when we get angry. If your righteous indignation leads you to bitterness or insult your supposed oppressors, God is certainly not on your side!
You can choose when you are angry to create roots of bitterness, or you can be moved with compassion as Jesus was… Sometimes that is letting it go and not letting it define your life.
In V22 Jesus shows how anger progresses into insults. Roca- is an Aramaic word that means empty headed or contempt.
In anger I want to hurt you, in contempt I don’t care if you are hurt or not. -Dallas Willard
Matt made a point that it’s easy to dehumanize those who don’t think, act, talk, vote, and believe the way that we do. Jesus is saying that it’s easy to move from insult (contempt) to judgement. Not simply observing their behavior but making a judgement call about their character. In anger and murder, we put ourselves in God’s place as judge over others. Have you ever found yourself doing this?
We see this more and more in America… this indifference, making judgement calls about “those people”, As Christians we do this regularly. I loved Matt’s point about our president, Joe Biden. Most of our watchers and readers do not agree with much of his policies or his morality but Matt goes on to say, what we’ve seen lately of the Church’s behavior toward him, the name calling, the personal attacks, the angry social media posts and memes are not Christ-like. “Whether you consider him legitimately elected or not, agree with his policies or not, he is still made in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect. Peter says to show respect to everyone and to honor our leaders. Paul says to pray for leaders (not to insult them!)”
When the church says things like “let’s go Brandon” (a code word for a 4-letter insult to the President) it does 3 things:
1. It provides no Gospel witness at all
2. It actually damages our witness (because we look like the world)
3. It is the exact opposite of the speech that ought to characterize our lives as Name bearers of our God.
The heart of someone living in the kingdom is empty of contempt towards others made in God’s image. We become encouragers of light not darkness.
Paul communicates the same message we see in Matt 5 in Eph 4:
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (Orgizo and Parorgizo [heat under]- talking about letting bitterness take root)
27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths (Insults and contempt) , but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (We hear this verse used a lot in charismatic settings for the gifts of the spirit, but the context here is about anger and unwholesome talk)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Anger, bitterness, and contempt quench the Spirit’s work within our hearts.
- Paul and Jesus, both exhort us to cast off anger and bitterness and put on compassion and mercy. Because that is God’s attitude towards us… blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.
Break the vicious cycle of anger by doing all you can to make peace quickly.
There are a few life applications that I think we can consider when we consider Matt’s message and apply it to our lives.
When Matt mentioned, Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:26-27 NASB This is a classic Jewish ethic that Hebrews prayed daily to control for thousands of years, how to control the lashon ha’ra. We have forgotten this as a kingdom culture. We don’t daily emphasize the need to let the spirit identify and purify this part of our lives any more. When you read this in greek and translate it into Hebrew or arguably Aramaic (as Matt did once in his sermon) and was the language Paul was liking speaking and originally teaching it in; we may realize that Paul was simply quoting Psalm 4:4. Interesting how your margin notes do not make this connection, but that is for a different post! “Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” In other words, if you can’t say something nice you better not say it at all.
Anger in Hebrew is ragaz and means to rage similar to the Greek Matt shared. But in Hebrew it also takes on the connotation of fear entreating words like tremble or quake. When we read this in the New Testament especially with our modern American cultural glasses on, we think of vengeance, revenge, and power, but as Matt points out the real problem is deeper. The real problem is my heart wants to control things, I feel like I need to assert my rights on others, I feel that I want to be in control. Yet in Jesus’ backwards kingdom we are told that light looks opposite of those things.
Yoda tells us so eloquently, “Anger Leads to the Dark Side Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
Hebrew uses ragaz to “express agitation growing out of some deeply rooted emotion. From the range of usages, it is clear that the term refers to the agitation itself, and the underlying emotion is to be recognized only from context.” Bowling, A. (1999). 2112 רָגַז. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (831). Chicago: Moody Press.
When we keep our anger in examination daily bathed in the spirit it brings us to Yahweh not away from Him.
Paul tells us to rigzu veal-tehetau (“Tremble and do not miss the mark”). When we come before the Lord in a sanctuary of reflection we are asking for the Holy spirit to train our heart towards Him. Keeping my heart in check leads me to deeper devotion for Jesus. Thank you Matt!