But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matt 5:22 NASB)
Jesus tells them if you are angry, you are guilty. YIKES – most people here in New Jersey are guilty of this kind of murder by the time they get to work on any given weekday. How can Jesus possibly expect us not to get angry?
First let’s think about self-control. I believe that Jesus is talking here about temper, not a righteous indignation. Anger that is an outgrowth of a bad or ill temper is nothing like God. Many people blame their short fuse on genetics, but remember, anyone in Christ is a new creation with a new set of genetics. You can no longer blame any of your shortcomings on your heritage, or your nationality.
So is there a good anger? Jesus displayed anger in Mark 3 at those in the synagogue who were watching Him to see if He would heal on the Sabbath day. The Word tells us that “God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11) Paul was stirred in his spirit at the idolatry around Mars Hill. Paul in Ephesians 4:26 tells us “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
Raca was a derogatory term of the day that insulted a person’s intelligence. Basically it is like calling someone stupid, or an idiot.
To call someone a fool was to insult their character, and even to call them godless. Ps 14:1 says “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” So in the Hebrew mind, it was a serious insult to call a man a fool.
Jesus puts each of these on a level with murder. I love how He equates it to something we can easily understand. It is so easy for us to hate the sin of murder, but coddle and nurse our own pet sins.
It is easy for me to despise a child molester, or someone who just kills without mercy, but then to talk about someone’s foolish actions behind his back, or make fun of how dumb someone seems when he walks away.
Jesus wants you to know that it is all the same. The same spirit that inspires the murderer, inspires your mocking tongue. In both cases the devil wins. He wins with the murderer because he has taken life, but he wins with the mocker, because he distorts the image of God we carry. [Tweet This] When others look at us they are supposed to see God, and God is love. So for them to hear “the image of God” mock, or insult, or hate, the devil has won a victory.
Come again soon.