How you ever said with clenched teeth, “Awh, I could just kill him!” Yep, just about ninety-nine percent of us has said something like that. Thankfully, we probably didn’t mean it. There are millions of good, godly people who get angry but do not hate and they get over their flareups.
Then there are many bitter people in the world who have calcified anger. Their anger has gone to seed resulting in bitterness. This aged anger stored up in people’s lives punishes people of today who had nothing to do with the wrong done to them by people of their past. Jesus can set you free.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the people about Kingdom living. It was quite different from the teaching of the Pharisees, who taught an outward observance of the Law from a very legalistic point of view. Jesus begins to teach about a righteousness from the inside out that comes about by the grace of God through Jesus.
On the issue of anger, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ / But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV).
Jesus is basically saying that hate is equivalent to murder. This type of anger has ill intent toward the other person. Love, mercy, patience, and compassion are missing, and angry hate is brewing.
On the other hand, there is an anger not soaked in hate. The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26 NKJV). There is an anger that is not laced with hate. We get angry with our children when they make a mess. Our spouse gets on our nerves and we get angry. These are more like temper flareups than hate. We all have short-lived moments of being upset with someone whom we love dearly.
Another acceptable anger is sometimes referred to as righteous indignation. This is when we get angry about someone being treated unjustly. These are not hateful types of anger if held in check and our response is within the bounds of man’s law and God’s righteousness.
As we unfold this scripture, we find the first level of anger is “whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” The previous points may be the “causes” that would justify righteous anger. So now, there is an unjustifiable anger; an anger we have “without a cause”. In God’s Kingdom, hate is never acceptable.
This hateful anger brews over something someone has done to us. It may have been a serious infraction such as abuse. I am not minimizing the harm someone has done to you. The continual hate and unforgiveness is not hurting them anymore but it continues to destroy you. In a real sense, the hate that continues from the awful past is a continual infliction of the old pain. It is a new stab from an old knife. The Holy Spirit can help you escape the pain and the hate. Someone said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die!”
There are many people who hold grudges of hate over small things that were made into big things. Often people will take offense to something the other person had no idea or intention of hurting them. They will roll it over and over in their head until it grows a mole hill into a mountain. Many times these unintentional knots could be untied if people would only talk to each other about their misunderstandings.
Jesus is saying that this type hate is a serious offense and if left unsettled it could lead to a dangerous accountability before God. It is hate caused by anger.
The second type of hateful anger is to call your brother, “Raca!”. This is an Aramaic word meaning “empty one”. Our equivalent would be like calling someone an idiot. It is saying that your brother is worthless. Raca speaks to those who are empty headed.
Now, we have a problem! It is arrogant anger to think someone else is worthless. The arrogance comes into play because part of the equation in valuing someone less is valuing ourselves more.
The accountability factor for this anger/hate is to the council. The council in Jesus’ day would have been the Sanhedrin. Our accountability group is our church family. The church should have a culture of mutual love and compassion for all people. This does not mean we wink at obvious sin, but we treat people with mercy and love. In a council of righteous people, we need to call arrogance into check. We are all saved by grace.
Go to Hell Anger
The third level of anger is to call someone a “fool” and the accountability is to “be in danger of hell fire”. “Fool” in this scripture is not translated from a word as we would associate with our usage of the word, “fool”. Our use of the word fool is more like the “raca” word. Fool is a morally bankrupt person, one who has a bad heart instead of a bad head. Psalms 53:1 (NKJV) comes to mind, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Jesus is telling us, if we hate our brother this much that we would declare he is doomed for hell, then the same type of punishment is due us. In today’s language, this type of anger and hate would spew at our brother, “Go to hell!” or “G– Damn You!”
If we have any love of God in us, we would not want our brother to go to hell. With the little I know about hell, I do not want my worst enemy to go to hell. We need to be careful concerning our words and our attitude about others.
Love is the Antidote for Hate
The Apostle John recorded this important point, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20 NKJV)?
Godly love and Christlike forgiveness are not for wimps. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to break the chains of hate, anger, and unforgiveness. It is not easy, but it is important. If we expect to be free from the chains of past hurts, we must love and forgive. God will help us!
Forgive and love and you will resemble Jesus!
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt