The Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5:21-26

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Passage: Matthew 5:21-26

In this section of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus continues his exploration what living as a member of the kingdom of God might look like and turns his attention to anger and how it finds expression in our lives and in the lives of those we meet. 

Have you ever considered why Jesus began his exploration with anger and its outworkings?

In his concluding words on this section in his commentary, John Stott writes: 

‘Jesus extends the biblical prohibitions of murder to include angry thoughts and insulting words. He goes on to say that angry thoughts and insulting words may never lead to the ultimate act of murder. Yet, they are tantamount to murder in God’s sight – our thoughts and words might indicate that we ‘wish someone were dead’.

Engage

This morning we considered the meanings behind the three words anger, Raca and fool:

Anger: the feeling we get when things don’t go our way and the action that feeling produces

Raca: a term of contempt, considering others as not worthy of our attention, which works to exclude or isolate them

Fool: an expression of abuse which arises from inner bitterness and hatred and which vilifies another person

From there, we explored how anger can go wrong.

It can arise too quickly – 

think road rage.

It can be too strong in its outworking –

think of the temper tantrum of a toddler 

or the table thumping, slammed doors and raised voices of the adult outburst. 

It can be too long lasting –

We witness long held resentment, grudges, refusal to forgive, 

which can often relentlessly progress to sullen passive-aggression 

           Perhaps this is the most dangerous form of anger gone wrong 

because it nurtures anger, feeds it, gives it a happy home, 

enjoys reflecting on previous wrongdoing, 

and in so doing, rationalises and distorts. 

And we finished by remembering that just trying to be better doesn’t seem to work 

and that God waits to work with us in our shortcomings. 

We remembered some practices, good in general, 

but with a specific role in how we live better in relation to anger:

1. acknowledging  its presence 

2. taking time to rest and to include God in that rest

3. reflecting with God at the end of each day.

Extend

RESTING

Stopping and including God in our stopping;

     resting in a way that actively includes God.

            What might this rest with God look like?

Phil 4:8 gives us a kicking off point: 

Consider, (which we might think of as engage with, explore, put yourself in a position where you experience….) “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

How do we do this in practical terms? 

 It will take a little planning, it won’t just happen…..

And here are some things it might include:

  • Eating a meal with friends or family
  • Taking quality time to read the bible
  • Napping
  • Playing games
  • Praying
  • Reading a good book
  • Looking back on the good things God has done for you, where he has been involved in your life or others’ lives.
  • Meeting with others who know Jesus                              
  • Enjoying nature 

(For more on this, see The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith)

REFLECTING

  • Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:26)
  • In your anger do not sin; when you are in your beds search your hearts and be silent (Ps 4:4)

For reflection on the day at its close, some people have found this evening prayer from our website helpful:

https://trinitybangor.org.uk/engaging-with-god/seeking-god/evening-prayer/

The Holiday Bible Club virtual prayer room is another helpful tool for practically exploring resting and reflecting. It is available at:

https://youtu.be/L3gSlpPitP0

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