You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” -Matthew 5:21-22
Murder is a terrible sin. Ending another person's life out of anger or revenge or just plain meanness is horrible. But anger that festers and boils within one's soul against another is just as bad. Not so much for the object of the anger, but definitely for the person who is harboring that anger.
Anger is a dangerous emotion. It can cause any number of emotional and spiritual problems. If left unchecked, it can erupt into violence. That's how spouses and children get beaten up. That's why the police are called out for so many "domestic disturbances". That's how people are killed. If held in check, but not dealt with in a constructive manner, anger can fester like an infected sore on one's soul, filling the person with bitterness, resulting in severe emotional stress. This, too, can eventually lead to violence. Perhaps not toward the person who originally caused the anger, but towards another. A man who harbors anger against his boss may come home and kick the dog or beat up his wife. A woman who is angry with her mother – even for something she did ten or fifteen years earlier - may take that anger and bitterness out on her children.
Any and all of these things throw up a large brick wall between the person harboring that anger and Jesus. If you refuse to let go of those things that you hold in your heart and mind that are not pleasing to Him – those festering sins - you are incapable of having the close and intimate relationship with Jesus that you need. If you don't let go of your anger - repent of it, as forgiveness for it, and turn away from it - Jesus cannot heal the pain that caused the anger in the first place.
We're all proud of ourselves when we don't lash out in anger, but keep control of our tempers. But Jesus wants us to not only have self-control, He wants us to have thought-control. Are you harboring anger in your heart for someone - even for something that happened years ago? If so, remember - you're not only breaking one of God's commandments, but you're also placing a roadblock between yourself and Jesus. If you’re filled with old anger and bitterness that you’ve clutched tightly to yourself for years, ask Him to help you get rid of that anger today. And if the anger you feel is new, stemming from something recent, talk to Jesus about that anger, too, asking Him to take it away from you so you can have that relationship with Him that you crave.
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