Episode 7 - Anger and Murder - Part 2
November 18, 2022
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Before we began preparing for this podcast, I foolishly thought, “Oh, this should be an easier one.” Anger is bad, I get it. It’s not easy though. Anger permeates our society, our political discourse and many, many, many people feel justified in their anger. If someone wrongs me, it’s okay to be angry. Anger, if not rooted out of one’s heart, will grow into a variety of horrible things: rage, violence, and bitterness. So, this is a big one for our society and for our fellowship. We should be welcoming each other and loving each other. Anger though is at the heart of one of the first great sins: Cain and Abel. And, if we are not careful to root it out of our hearts, can infect our fellowship too.
Hey, I'm Matt Brownell.
And I'm Van Owens.
And I'm Tim Adams.
Welcome to Climbing the Mountain, where we dive into the scriptures and discuss themes,
connections, and real life application.
We're kicking off a series here where we're going to examine the sermon on the mount and
discuss implications for this teaching for Christians today.
We're in part two of our study of anger.
This is from Matthew 5:21-26.
So let's start there again.
You have heard that it was said of those of old, you shall not murder.
And whoever murders will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.
Whoever insults his brother will be liable to the counsel.
And whoever says you fool will be liable to the hell of fire.
So if you were offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something
against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.
First be reconciled with your to your brother and then come and offer your gift.
Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you were going with him to court, lest your
accuser hand you over to the judge and the judge to the guard and you be put in prison.
Truly I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
And last time we discussed a few key things.
One, Jesus is getting at the heart of the law.
It's not just murder that God is concerned with, but also the impulses of our hearts
that would ever lead us to something so horrible.
Two, this is a huge issue for our society.
It feels like everywhere we turn someone is angry at someone else and there's very little
pause to consider anything beyond our own point of view.
But going deeper, we discussed how permissible anger is.
In fact, and I love the example you gave, Van, of being told that if you're sad, make
it look like you're angry.
Actually, maybe love is not the best word there, but the example is demonstrative of
Three, we also talked about how Jesus switches from the vertical orientation of what God
sees in our hearts to the very practical way in which these feelings are then meted out
in our horizontal relationships.
God is very concerned in how we treat others.
And so four, when we look at the concept of an altar for some religious activity, God
wants us to leave our gift there and go be reconciled if we recall anyone who might be
angry with us.
And that's where we left off last time.
We started talking about communion as an altar, and then we consider Romans 12's description
of our bodies as living sacrifices.
And Tim, I think that's where you want to pick it up again.
So when you were talking about that van before of how our bodies are living sacrifices, I
was thinking about in Ephesians where Paul says to not even let the sun go down while
you're still angry.
And he talks about not giving the devil a foothold there.
And that last part of giving the devil a foothold really ties into what we're saying of how
this anger affects us.
But when he says, well, why, why wouldn't you let the sun go down while you're still
And that's the only way it connects to what you were saying.
If your body is a temple and your life is a living sacrifice and Jesus says, leave your
sacrifice and your gift of the altar.
If someone has something against you and Paul saying, you've got to deal with it right there
and then like this, your this can't go on in our lives.
So it's not like, oh, I'm only going up to Jerusalem three times a year.
And I can be angry for four months of the year.
And then I have to deal with it or that I have to deal with it in every Saturday before
I go to church.
There's a sense where, no, I have to deal with this every day and not let these things
grow and fester until they become much more deeply rooted in my heart.
Tim, what you just said reminds me of Ephesians 4, get rid of all bitterness, rage and
anger, brawling and slander along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God
At the beginning of that chapter, Paul writes, be completely humble and gentle.
Be patient, bearing with one another in love.
So humility, gentleness and patience are keys to connection with others, keys to loving
people and keys to ridding anger from our hearts.
I like how you said we need to deal with anger right away, Tim.
We can't just let it fester.
We can't give the devil a foothold.
And when I was thinking about the concept of altar, I think it grew for me from communion
and our bodies to everything we might do, every religious activity.
The altar or 'mizabach' means place of slaughter or sacrifice.
The purpose of this place of slaughter or sacrifice was to bring together God and man.
It was a place for expressions of both gratitude and supplication.
So first, I think we have to, we have connection back to Jesus' words and that what we are
doing at the altar is trying to connect with God.
But he, he's saying he doesn't want that from us when we've ignored our horizontal
I kept thinking about the temple and these all, and the altar and, and I noticed something
else that the two main altars in the temple represent these activities of gratitude and
supplication or asking God to do something.
One altar was the altar of burnt offering.
And then the other altar was the altar of incense.
So I think the first thing to note is what we've been talking about with communion.
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross fulfills the entire sacrificial system of atonement, the
goal of which is to bring together God and mankind.
At the cross, we have a feast of grace.
However, that's not an altar God wants us to visit when we are treating others contrary
to the way God treats us in Christ.
And second, this, the altar of incense, today that's, for Christians, that's our prayers.
We see that in places like Revelation 5:8, where our prayers are, are likened
to incense going before God's throne.
And in Revelation 8:4, we see what God does with this incense of prayer.
It prompts him to act powerfully.
But here too, we read things like our prayers being hindered because we're not reconciled
You see that in 1 Peter 3 and famously in Jesus' teaching on prayer in Matthew 6.
But wait, that's not all.
In Hebrews 13:15, we're called to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit
of lips that openly profess his name.
So sharing your faith is a sacrifice of praise.
The writer continues, and do not forget to do good and to share with others.
For with such sacrifices, God is pleased.
So doing good and sharing with others, i.e. giving or hospitality, are sacrifices too.
Money is a sacrifice.
In Matthew 15 and Mark 7, Jesus refers to the gift devoted to God or Corban.
This word Corban is the same word used to describe the entire sacrificial offerings.
And Van, you mentioned our bodies, Romans 12:1-2, are to be living sacrifices.
Basically everything we possess is to be laid before God.
Even our desires are to be transformed into godly ones.
But like you Tim, I am cut by the need to be reconciled with others.
It's not something that can just be shoved to the side, it's not really that important.
Before I share my faith, before I give my money, before I do a good deed, before I share
something, before I take communion, before I even desire something, basically before
I participate in any religious activity, I need to get right with others.
Yeah, and I think it might be helpful, because that's like a really strong statement.
It's easy to hear that and say, yeah, but it's still more important for me to go to church
than it is for me to be right with the people I'm interacting with.
Like a practical level, I'm going to have more, there's going to be more consequences
for me if I leave that place of worship instead of letting something fester.
And so when you're saying all that, I'm in total agreement.
I just wanted to read, I think 1 John is so helpful for me in this, because it just
puts it so, it literally puts it black and white.
And there's several scriptures here, I'll just read a couple verses.
And 1 John 2, he says, anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother and
sister is still in the darkness.
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light and there's nothing in
them to make them stumble.
But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.
They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them.
And I think it's another one in 1 John 4, it says, we love because he first loved us.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.
Forever does not love their brother and sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they
have not seen.
And he has given us this command, anyone who loves God must also love their brother and
And so, I mean, John's just repeating what Jesus said, right?
But to me, it helps to hear it in these multiple places that, yeah, our horizontal relationships
are essential to how we live out our faith.
We would be colossal hypocrites if we go to remember how much Jesus sacrificed for us
to die for us, for our sins, and then we're like not forgiving someone.
We're not dealing with something that's happened horizontally.
It's Matthew 18, you know, that whole second.
And that scripture in 1 John 4:19 is a slap in the face.
Because again, anger is so permissible, so acceptable in our society today, that it is
so acceptable that people will not even acknowledge a good idea that someone has if they have,
if there's any basis of anger, that if they're divided politically, if they're divided
racially, if they're divided, you know, this is a podcast and we're on the radio.
So if you don't know me, you might not know, I'm a black man.
I grew up believing, and I believe this for well into my 20s, that I couldn't really have
a good relationship with a white person because they hate all of us.
And because they hate all of us, I hate all of them.
I was told that.
And so it hindered my thought.
And I just thought, well, that means I can only have good relationships with only black
people because I'm assuming that if somebody's from another race, they probably hate me already.
And it was this flawed logic that hindered my heart when it came to relationships.
And it's just, it's so difficult for me because I see it when I read the verse, when I read
the passage and it says, you cannot love God whom you do not see if you do not love your
brother whom you do see.
And we're not even talking about anger here in the traditional sort of good old red blooded
American sense of anger, you know, I'm angry at the Yankees because they're the rivals to
the Red Sox kind of thing.
We're talking about, he's talking about love here and that this is, it's so intense that
I have to love my brother because if I don't, I cannot.
It doesn't say you don't, if you don't love your brother, you don't love God.
It says if you don't love your brother, you cannot.
It's an impossibility.
And that's the other thing about anger, putting a seed in your heart.
Tim, I love what you said about the passage of Ephesians about not going to bed, not
letting the sunset on your anger and, you know, thinking about the analogies of the
altar being your body.
If you were getting ready to go to bed one night and you saw a tick embedded in your
forearm, you would not say, Oh, there's a tick.
Good night, honey.
You would, I would, I would sound the fire alarm.
I'm wanting to call an ambulance.
I'm like, I could get Lyme disease.
How do you get a tick out?
How do you get a tick out?
How do you, how do you, how do you deal with this?
Because this thing, this tiny little almost microscopic thing is a threat to my life.
And that's what anger is.
Anger does that to you.
And yet that's what my logical mind says.
But in the way that I came up, it's like somebody cuts me off in traffic and I'm instantly
And I think I've got so much to work on here.
I see why Jesus said, leave your gift at the altar that you can, you can take care of that
This you have to take care of now because it, like I said last time, this could kill you
and this could kill not just you, but it could kill a lot of people.
And you know, it could physically, yes, sure, but spiritually even more so, it could really
destroy a fellowship.
You are so right.
But all I can think of right now, do you guys remember the old Disney cartoons where I think
He's this mild manner, goofy, see you later, going off to work.
And then as soon as he gets under behind the wheel, he goes, whole satins like super angry.
I remember that.
I remember that.
Oh my gosh.
I have become a Massachusetts driver.
I used to be from Portland and every time I go back there, I get annoyed at how nice
people are on the road.
They come to a yield and they're like, you go, no, you go, no, you go.
And I'm behind them going, get off my way.
And so if we can pivot, I think we've discussed how serious anger is.
It's really not a laughing matter and it can lead to these, it's pervasive in our society.
It is all around us.
And we live in a very polarized time and social media stokes it up.
You get a feed and it knows what, you know, and you keep hearing one side of things until
you can't possibly think that anything on a different point of view could be right at
And honestly, none of that really matters anyway.
But how can we welcome others?
I loved what you said, Tim, using 1 John because it is so true.
That is totally holy and found a way to welcome us by the sacrifice of Jesus.
And we spit on that when we do not show the same mercy to other people.
And I think that it reminds me of the go and learn what this means.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
You know, before we do all our religious stuff, let's pay attention to the more weightier
things of the law like justice and mercy.
And I think that, so now if we could pivot though, because I think we could take this
to the other extreme a little bit, are we held hostage from worship by other people's
And if not, and I would hate to do this, should we qualify Jesus's words?
I don't, I'm very apprehensive about doing that because I don't want to qualify anything
that might just seem hard because he said it.
But I want, I would want to do it.
Are there other passages that of scripture that might shed light on on the heart behind
what Jesus is getting at as we seek to answer, are we held hostage from worship, all worship
by other people's feelings?
I, well, I think the point that you're saying of, we've got to, to understand this, we've
got to look at everything that the Bible is saying about this.
Jesus is our teacher, and he's the one who is, he's our point guy, but he also talks
in many other places other than just Matthew five through seven, and his disciples also
speak inspired through the Holy Spirit.
And so we, we don't want to just focus just on one place and adopt an interpretation that
makes the Bible and, and God himself contradicts himself.
And so I think it's, it's really a really good question, and if we're, as long as we're
approaching this question from a perspective of I want to understand instead of I want
to explain a way, which is really easy to, it's really easy to kind of make the, those
two murky in our hearts.
And sometimes we don't even know, but as long as we're, I think as we have to try to have
that place of understanding first, so that I think is just a really important point because
we're going to be doing this a bunch in the coming episodes as well.
And try to say, this is a, this is a challenging teaching.
Where else can we understand what Jesus might mean by looking at other scriptures?
Yeah, I think of the, I think of the passage that I believe that you referred to it, Matt,
where Jesus was talking to the Pharisees about Corban and he says to them, it's in Matthew
chapter 15 towards the end of his, his condemnation of what they're saying.
He says, these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain.
Their teachings are merely human rules.
And that gets at something we've talked about in previous sessions, about this aspect of
Jesus is not as interested in how you perform in how you act as he is, how you are.
And what the Pharisees had done is they, they'd created a loophole that allowed them not to
do the thing that was at the heart of the matter, taking care of their parents.
You need to take care of your parents.
They were, they figured out a loophole where they could get out of that.
They could give some money to the temple and say that was the money that I would have spent.
Because obviously God is more important than my dad and mom.
And even Jesus said that, didn't he say that in some, in some context, but he's talking
about we've got to get to the heart of the matter.
And that, that's something that he does throughout this entire sermon.
He is getting to the heart of the matter.
And so in that sense, am I held hostage by what somebody else thinks?
Well, Paul said, and I wish I knew the reference off the top of my head.
Didn't Paul say who's led into sin and I do not inwardly burn?
Who shouldn't I rejoice with those who rejoice?
And I mourn with those who mourn were in this thing together.
We're, we're a body together.
So am I held hostage by my brother's shortcoming by my brother's sin in the, in as much there,
if, if I, if there's anything that I can do about it, if there's anything that I can
change, if there's anything that I can help him with, then I suppose yes, I am.
But that's okay because we all are.
Well, what about, what about Jesus then in the last year of his life when all of the
Pharisees hated him?
Should he have foregone any worship until he went out and tried to get resolved with
all them because they hated him?
That's, that's the first thing that I thought of.
I do think that, man, like, man, that was a, that was really challenging.
It's so, when I hear a question like this, the first thing that I think about is how
am I individually affected?
I don't think about how is the body of Christ affected.
I think in terms of the I instead of a we.
So what you're, what you just made me do, Van, is you made me think about how is, how
is the we affected?
And, and so if, and I think that's where, if I'm just trying to understand this in order
to explain something away, that's where I feel like I'm, I'm getting really convicted
because I might be just saying, oh, I don't need a reconcile because it, in this particular
case because I didn't do anything wrong.
It doesn't affect me.
With that being said, like what you just said, Matt, I, I thought of two scriptures and one
is right after what you just quoted, Van.
The disciples came to him and asked, do you know that the Pharisees were offended when
they heard this one when he said that they're teaching for vain and he said, every plant
that my heavenly father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots, leave them.
They are blind guides.
Let the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
And he, Jesus kind of reiterates on that in John 17 that the world's going to hate us
because it hated him and it's brought up in first John three.
So there's, it's brought up a lot of, in the sermon of the mountain, you know, you'll
bless it when the, when you're persecuted for righteousness sake.
So if you're persecuted because of righteousness sake, someone's angry at you.
And so this, this isn't just because someone doesn't like you or is angry at you, therefore
you've done something wrong and you can't worship.
That, that, that can't be what it means because it makes no sense.
It's just internally contradicts.
So if we were to qualify this, we would say, if you actually did something wrong, if you
sinned some way against someone and 99.99999% of the time, that's probably true.
If someone is harboring feelings, I mean, I could see like public figures like Jesus
or maybe you've got, you've preached a fiery sermon one day and a lot of people are like
ruffled, ruffled a lot of feathers and they might have something against you, but it was
the right thing to say.
You should probably still have conversations and try to get reconciled with people, but
I don't think that should stop you from taking communion.
That's how I interpret it.
Then the other thing I think of is Romans 12 where it says, if possible, so far as it
depends on you, live peaceably with all.
I was going to, I was going to bring that same scripture up if possible.
That's a, that's a, that's a big piece in there.
And I think that Jesus did try in some ways to be at peace with the Pharisees as much as
it was possible.
I wonder how much the word brother comes into play here because either your brother or sister
has something against you.
Leave your, it's not, Jesus doesn't say if anyone has.
And now I don't want to be like the teacher of the law who's like, who's my neighbor?
And Jesus is like, everyone's your neighbor.
So I don't, I'm like, I don't know if that really means, what, what Jesus means by that.
And it's still, you could still have a situation where someone else might really just be nursing
a grudge and you've tried, you've done everything you can to, to try to be reconciled and that's,
that hasn't happened.
But I think that as far as it depends on you as a kind of a good ground rule because it
means that like I've tried, right?
I just, I haven't just like token tried, but I've really done everything I can to try
to be reconciled with this person.
And that's maybe a good place to end.
So just to wrap it up, we covered the altar and we said it's our whole life basically
and we have to deal with the horizontal relationships that we see before we worship God who we don't
That said, living a life devoted to God will mean we ruffle feathers from time to time.
So where we're ending here is with Paul's qualification.
As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
All right, join us next time when we wrap up the topic of hate.