Exodus 20:13. You shall not murder
Let me talk to you about Anger – the silent killer. All that has been said so far is pretty obvious even if it is controversial. However, most of us are not involved in the gross violence of the criminal or mentally unbalanced. Has this word from God anything to say to the vast mass of people who live fairly ordinary lives? Yes – this commandment challenges us in the matter of inner anger, bitterness and resentment.
Who of us has not met a person who seemed to be seething inside with anger and resentment – or whose life is characterised by regrets, blame-shifting, bitterness and degrading talk? He or she never seems to be happy. They may carry grudges for years and are often malicious in their talk. Anger is a very insidious thing. It can be dormant for years then suddenly rise and plague a person or a relationship and wreak destruction.
In their book Happiness is a Choice Frank Minirth and Paul Meier point out that inappropriate anger stems from three main sources:
· Perfectionistic demands, and
This is true but the root cause is human sinfulness.
This commandment forbids us engaging in unjust anger, displays of temper, envy, bad moods or petty personal revenges.
Paul also had something to say about anger in Ephesians 4:26:
‘Be angry, and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath.’ So did John in 1 John 3:15:
‘Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.’
Thus we see that this commandment refers not only to the violent act but also to the spirit or the attitude of the heart. God is interested in the heart. It is there that the real problem resides. Our Lord made this abundantly clear when he said ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ (Matthew 15:19). This is why the dynamic of the gospel is the new birth. We are given a new disposition so that these inner rages and self-centred reactions are not only forgiven but conquered by the grace of God. Part of His grace toward us is to give us the Holy Spirit so that we are enabled to exercise self-control and actively seek to please Him and reflect His love
This is well illustrated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.’
Here we have a list of gross and vile sins which plague society – even to this day. People who do these things are barred from the Kingdom of God. But now read verse 11:
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.’
‘And such were some of you.’ Past tense. What happened? They were washed, sanctified and justified. It is possible to be delivered by God’s grace from these destructive inner urges.
‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.’ (Romans 12:19)
Bearing this in mind let us conclude by examining how our anger, self-will and self-centredness can affect these areas of daily living. We will continue tomorrow.
You know your own heart, so say your own prayer today.