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Climbing The Mountain

Matt Brownell, Tim Adams, and Van Owens

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Climbing the Mountain is a weekly podcast devoted to the Word of God and its application in the lives of believers today. Grounded in the Sermon of the Mount, we dive into connecting scriptures to explore themes and implications.

Episode 8 - Anger and Murder - Part 3

November 25, 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 back for part three of Anger.
Tim's going to give us a recap of where we've been.
Yeah, so this is a funny one because we thought, I think Matt wasn't the only one.
This might have been easier, but here we are on part three trying to unpack this.
And I just want to say that it's helpful for me to sit in these passages because I've
heard them a lot, but to actually let them sink into my heart and consider the full implications
of what this means, what it would really look like to live a life without anger.
It's just so challenging.
So where have we been?
We've been talking about Matthew 5:21-26, and because it's good to read it, I'll
read it again.
You've heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not murder, and anyone who
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 council, and whoever says you fool
will be liable to the hell of fire.
So if you are offering your gift to the altar and they remember that your brother has something
against you.
Leave your gift there before the altar and go.
First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.
Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court.
Lest your accuser hand you over to the judge and the judge to the guard and you will be
put in prison.
Truly I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
And so what we've been talking about most recently here in part two is we really sat
on this concept of what does it mean for us to leave our gift at the altar?
Where is the altar in our current lives?
And we kind of came to the conclusion that it's our whole lives.
We're living sacrifices.
And so when we are thinking about our worship to God, we have to deeply consider these horizontal
relationships that we are participating in every single day.
And with that being said, we're not necessarily held hostage by what other people might think
about us.
And we know that if we're living the way of Jesus, we're going to have people who dislike
us, who hate us, who are angry with us.
And that doesn't mean we can't worship, but we remembered what Paul said, as far as it
depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
And that's kind of where we stopped there.
As far as it depends on you, that means literally as far as it depends on you.
That's why Jesus is saying, leave your gift there at the altar.
This is a removal of anger from our hearts that's very different than what our society
does and I think that most of us on a day-to-day basis do.
It's a very high calling.
Thank you.
And I thought of another one when you were talking, Matthew 24:9, Jesus says, and you
will be hated by all nations for my namesake.
Yeah, it can't mean that, as far as it depends on you, I think is a good place.
As far as it depends on you is wonderful because it doesn't set a specific limit.
It doesn't say, what does that mean?
Because that means a different thing for all of us.
And it's very clear and very concise without being too specific.
Because in every situation, that's going to be different.
I can deal with if Tim, you were angry or Matt, you were angry with me right now, then
as far as it depends on me is pretty far because we're all sitting in the same room.
We all go to the same church.
We all live relatively close to each other.
There's a lot that I could do to be resolved with you.
But if it's somebody who's more distant from me or someone that I don't have as much access
to, then maybe as far as it depends on me is less effort, less work, but still a high
I want to read the next two verses after Romans 12:18.
Well, actually, I want to read it and oh my gosh, I want to read the whole chapter now.
I'm looking at it.
I think it'll come up in other discussions.
It's going to.
It probably will.
It's a well-worn passage.
You know, he goes on, you know, he starts with repay no one evil for evil, but he goes
on to really put it back toward trusting God.
And I think that is one of the keys I want to get to tonight.
I think that, you know, it says never avenge yourself, but leave it to the wrath of God
for his written vengeance is mine.
I will repay, says the Lord.
To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he's thirsty, give him something to drink.
And if he ends this section with the beautiful, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome
evil with good.
And so I think I want to pivot here now and start to think about is all anger bad?
Would we just, you know, weed this out completely or, you know, and I want to read a verse to
set this up.
James 1:19-20, my dear brothers, take note of this.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man's anger
does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
So we've talked a lot about how we should be rooting anger out of our heart.
That is not a good place for it to sit at all.
But is all anger inherently wicked?
Can some anger be righteous or is it a slippery slope to even allow a fraction in because
our sinful nature will take it and just run with it?
Well, I think of the passage in sort of the famous passage in John chapter two.
I'm going to read this one, John 2:13.
This is Jesus and it says when it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up
to Jerusalem in the temple courts.
He found people selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
So he made a whip out of courts and drove all of them on drove all from the temple courts,
both sheep and cattle.
He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables to those who sold
He said, get these out of here.
Stop turning my father's house into a market.
His disciples remember that it is written zeal for your house will consume me.
The first time I read that passage, I thought, aha, now I can reembrace my third emotion
of anger because Jesus was clearly angry here.
And he drove out the money changers.
He drove out all the cattle.
He made a whip out of cords.
There's only one thing to do with a whip out of cords.
It's whip some people, whip some things.
And I thought, that's it.
And then I went to someone who was a little bit more well versed in me and he said, it's
righteous indignation.
And I said, OK, that's what I'll call it from now on.
I am righteous indignation against you.
I am righteously indignant.
And so I do think that there is a time clearly there is because Jesus did it.
There is a time for that, that indignation.
There is a time for that, but for Jesus, it was a time and there is a sense in that passage
of the slow to become angry.
It's like he's there.
He's observing everything that's going on.
He's watching it.
And perhaps in his mind, he's thinking, is this really bad?
Is this something that makes me feel really bad?
But is this something that is in violation of my father's house?
And he sits there and he's thinking about it and he's slowly making a whip out of cords
in case he's going to need it.
And then he acts.
And I think that the thing for Jesus, and you know, Jesus was someone who was beaten
and bound and spit upon and led away and crucified.
Someone who did not have to have that happen to him.
And so when it was on him, when the hatred or when the sin was put on him, he did not
do anything like this.
But when it was a violation of God's house, a violation of God's sovereignty, a violation
of God's kingdom, that's when he acted.
But even Jesus was for Jesus slow to act on it.
It must have taken a while to fashion that cord, right?
That whip.
So yeah, he didn't act like having a fit of rage or something.
This was anger directed at something that was defacing God's glory.
It was keeping.
They turned the cord of the Gentiles.
We're supposed to be a light to the nations, right?
That's what Israel is supposed to be.
And they took the only place where people could worship that were Gentiles and turned
into a marketplace.
You're not going to be, I don't know how easy it is for you to pray when people are, if
you've been to an outdoor marketplace before, they're loud.
They're haggling.
They're, they're bargaining.
They're, people are being cheated.
There's all kinds of stuff going on there.
And I think that Jesus observed all of that and said, this cannot, this won't, this won't
I liked what you said though, Van, about how if it was directed toward him, you know, it
was not something that he was, he was going to absorb it somehow.
And I think that relates to one of the Beatitudes that, that I see here in Matthew 5 because
right at the beginning almost blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
I think that is showing meekness in the context there.
He's absorbing something, you know, that he, it's not just a, you know, a regular
kind of humility.
It's you're absorbing something bad happening.
And I think that's what, that's the heart that we're called to have when something bad
happens to, when someone does wrong us, we're called to have a heart of absorbing it because
we are supposed to love this person.
I, there's, there's a couple of proverbs, you know, one says better as a patient man
than a strong man for who he was straight, who restrains his anger is better than he
who takes the city.
And the other one, the imprudent man declares his anger on the same day.
And but the crafty man hides away his dishonor.
So there's, there's definitely a lot to this of being slow to become angry.
And I think we, the things that are obvious to me are that it says human anger does not
produce the righteousness that God desires.
So if I'm, if I'm feeling that immediate impulse, that's probably the human side of
me, not the, not the son of God side.
But I think it's also, I mean, some people gravitate towards anger externally.
Some people can more hold on to it and keep it inside.
Ooh, that's a good, that's a good distinction.
I just, I know that I tend to be a conflict avoider I mentioned that I think on that
part one.
And I can think of that as being righteous because I'm not riling feathers.
And it's clear that Jesus was very comfortable being in a place of strong emotion and passion.
And I just thought about Mark 3.
I think we might lose some of these things in translation.
I don't know, but there's a man who's crippled and Jesus, it's on the Sabbath and Jesus says
to the man, stand up in front of everyone and Jesus asked those who were watching, which
is lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill.
It says it, but they remain silent.
And he looked around at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts,
said to the man, stretch out your hand and then he healed them.
And I mean, there literally says he's angry, but he's deeply distressed, right?
There's this, there's like very strong passion that is leading to in this case, a man being
healed who would have been bound for another day or whoever knows how many days from, from
his physical infirmity.
And I know that when I'm coming out of a place of, I'm just going to keep everything at a
low nice level and pretend that everything's okay and pretend that that's doing what, what
Jesus wants because Jesus doesn't want me to be angry.
It's like, well, Jesus and I mean, we see it all over in the Old Testament that God
is passionate about righteousness being spread throughout our hearts, throughout the world.
And if there's, if there's evil going on, if there's things that are not right, he's
passionate, he can be angry to see the unrighteousness happen.
And so I don't feel like I figured that out by any stretch of the imagination, but I think
it would be, it would be very sad if, if, if any of us walk away from this discussion
and think, oh, I've just got to, I've just got to suppress all of my intense emotions.
And if I feel indignation about evil, I should just need to suppress it, right?
There's, there's more to it than we'll just pretended everything's okay.
And you know, I really relate to what you're saying, Tim, when I was your age, I was much
more the same way.
Stuff it down.
Don't, don't let it out.
It's dangerous.
It's going to mess up a relationship.
And I was, as I was preparing for this, I was thinking about, I always think about songs.
I always think about my playlist songs that I have on Spotify.
And there's a verse from Don Henley where he says, there are people in your life who've
come and gone, they put you down, they hurt your pride.
You got to put it all behind you, baby, because life goes on.
You keep carrying that anger.
It'll eat you up inside.
And what I've learned as I've gotten older is my ability to suppress my anger has declined.
And I am, I am by nature, my sinful nature is meaner than it was when I was younger.
And I have a, I found a cup in the, in the room where we keep all the cups at work and
it says Boston University mom.
And I love the cup.
It's a nice cup.
So I carry it around all the time.
And one of my coworkers was laughing at me and said, you're a Boston University mom.
And I said, yeah, but it's an acronym.
Some stands for mean old man.
And because I think I am very mean.
And what I, what I think about when I think about what is the benefit of anger?
Because there is, there are some things that I should be angry about that I can act upon.
The example of Jesus is that he sort of always contemplated.
He asked questions, he, I think of the woman caught in adultery and all the obviously hypocritical
men who brought her there.
He could have let them have it.
He knew exactly what was wrong in all of their lives.
And he could have just gone down the line and said, you did this and this and this,
how dare you?
And there's something in me that wish he had, but what he did was he just calmly.
And when Jesus does things like kneels down and writes in the dirt, I think that he is
restraining himself.
And but in restraining himself, also thinking what, what needs to happen here?
I need to address this in some way.
I need to filter this in some way.
And then what comes out is perhaps one of the most convicting things he ever said.
Whoever has no sin in your life.
You throw the first stone and they all walk away one at a time because he completely disarmed
it and he did it without meanness.
He did it without an expression any expression of bitterness.
And I think that's what the thing that I am working on right now in my life is to take
that meanness that is sort of natural for me and to, uh, and not to tamp it down, but
to hold it back, to get it, to keep it, to keep it with me for a while, but to keep,
not to keep it, to tamp it down and try to suppress it, but to keep it and figure out
what good can God bring out of this?
And if there is none, then I just have to, like Don Henley said, put it all behind me
because sometimes there is none.
If I'm, if I'm in traffic and somebody cuts me off and I get instantly angry, that's one
I just have to put behind me.
There's no, I can't track that guy down and resolve that anger with him.
But if I'm angry at my wife for something that she said, then I can hold that in and
figure out what needs to come out of that for her, for our relationship and then let
it come out in some way that will be beneficial for both of us.
It's funny.
I think I, I'm similar.
I tend to take things inside.
It's funny.
I married someone who is totally the opposite in this department.
I mean, Netta has, um, I joke with her that she's so 100% extroverted that she has no
internal monologue, uh, but she's that way with anger too.
Uh, she will get angry at something and she'll let you know, you know, right away what she's
And, uh, it's really funny.
I, so she's where she veers off into letting the anger come out and maybe sometimes taking
it too far.
I keep the anger inside, suck it all in, push it down.
And that's where the, the seeds of bitterness grow.
And that's, I would say, I mean, both are bad, but the bitterness freaks me out a little
bit more because it's, I can see it now in other people too, um, because it takes one
to know one, I guess, but it's something that is, it will destroy relationships and it is
a poison that, that will spread.
Because you'll, you'll have a bent towards something and then you'll filter if you are
angry at someone and it's, it's a bitterness now, you will filter what they say through
your lens of bitterness and you won't hear the good and you've judged, you're sitting
in judgment on them and you feel justified, right?
In your anger that you've let into your heart to, to stew and it's a horrible destructive
place to be because, uh, if you spread that you could, you might start talking to someone,
a friend and can't believe how unfair this is, blah, blah, blah, vomit on them and they
start thinking, Oh yeah, that, that's not so good.
And that's how it starts.
And then they sell someone else and pretty soon you got all kinds of horrible evil that
is that you, your sinful heart has perpetrated.
So this is a dangerous thing.
And I think we started to get, I want to talk a little bit now about how we can weed out
anger and bitterness, but just to close the loop on what we were saying a minute ago,
I think we, there is some, such a thing as, as righteous indignation where it's not about
you, you see sin and you're like, Nope, that's bad.
That is wrong.
And I think it's okay to be angry at something that is, that is wrong.
And I don't think that you should, that should then stop you from having communion, for instance,
like let's say you have a loved one who did something horrible to you, like really bad
to another loved one or something, you know something that, and it was horrible.
And when you think about that, that makes you angry.
But the sin was horrible and you should be angry at sin.
And so, you know, you can, I think you can still forgive this person in a sense, but
you don't have to be, I want to be careful here.
You don't, I don't think you have, I don't think being angry at sin should stop you from
having communion in that, that respect.
As long as you've sorted out that relationship still, I think, you know, and I, and I do,
I think over time, maybe that, that pain that is kind of underlying can be healed too.
But let's go toward weeding out anger from our hearts, particularly bitterness.
How do we do that?
Well, I think to answer that, it helps to clarify what you guys just said, because Matt, you
were talking about holding anger in as a, and suppressing as a way of, it would, it
would be a breeding ground for bitterness.
But Van, you were talking about holding, you guys use the same language to mean two different
You said holding anger in to allow yourself to see, is there anything here that is actually
true, or do I just need to get rid of it?
And so that's kind of, one of them, Matt's version you were describing was like this
one step process of just stuff, and then it grows.
But when we allow ourselves to experience something and to feel something, and then to expose it
to the light, expose it to the Holy Spirit, and say, I'm really angry right now about
this thing.
And maybe that conversation happens just you and God, maybe that happens with someone else,
maybe it's a combo.
But it gets brought up, and it's in a spirit of, I don't want this to control me.
And I want to understand what is just me responding in a way that is sinful, or that is human
anger, and what part of it is, maybe has a kernel of righteousness that can be used
if I get rid of the parts of my anger that are not righteous.
And so coming, coming, bringing those things into the light, there's this process where
when if we have bitterness in our hearts, it's really, really ugly.
And we really don't want to really even acknowledge it to ourselves.
And we definitely don't want to tell God about it.
And we definitely don't want to tell other people because it's those things that we've
been thinking are just like really disgusting.
And they often are irrational, you know, the scale to which we've, we've hold or holding
on to something is often disproportionate to what it is.
I'm talking about, you know, small things.
And obviously, like you said, there's huge sins that there's tremendous hurts that I'd
say are a deeper conversation.
But that's, that's my thought right now is, you know, if we walk in the light as he is
in the light, the promise is we have fellowship with one another.
No, that's, we got to bring those things, even if they're, they're ugly at first, we
got to bring these things into the light so that they can be exposed and they can be
I, I, I love that you noticed that Tim, that we use the same, we use the same terminology
to say completely different things.
And I think that what Matt is talking about is suppressing anger.
That doesn't work because it creates bitterness.
What I'm talking about is more, uh, ruminating on the anger that, you know, ruminating is
what a cow does with its cut.
It chews and chews and chews and then squallows into one of its, what does a cow have in like
nine stomachs?
At least seven.
And then it comes back up and they chew it again.
And it's sort of like my thought with how do you deal with anger is that you ruminate
on it.
You, you maybe not hold it.
You don't hold on to it, but you, you, or you hold on to it, but you don't hold it in.
You hold on to it in the sense that you don't release it on anybody.
You don't, you don't act upon it, but you hold it in to say, like you were saying, to
say, Oh, look at this.
This is anger.
This is messy.
This is, uh, potentially dangerous.
This is also, but like you said, there's a, maybe there's a kernel of righteousness in
Maybe I'm angry at some very, uh, real tangible identifiable sin.
Let me look at this.
And if after looking at it, I want to suppress it before I try to suppress it, I should come
to Tim and say, Hey, Tim, look at this.
What do you, what do you think I should go to God and say, God, look at this.
Am I, am I right?
Or am I wrong?
Lead me to some scripture, lead me to somebody in fellowship who can help me with this.
And I deal with it until I've dealt with it.
And that way I've put it behind me.
I have not suppressed it.
I have gotten past it.
I have either used it for what it's useful for or determined that it's useless.
So, and that gets to the being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
You're giving it that space between here's something that's happened and here's how I'm
going to react.
And there is that space between where, where God, I think wants us to use our minds to
control our bodies and, and what we do.
And those thoughts that we produce should, should lead to emotions.
And I guess where I'd want to, because we're over time here, but where I'd want to end
this, I think, and I love you, how you talk, bringing this out into the light.
That is totally right.
We should not let things fester in darkness at all.
Even if it's painful and it hurts to expose, do it.
Because you, that's the only way to heal is to get the light in there.
But I think in all of this, there is an element of entrusting ourselves to God, entrusting
to him, just what Jesus did.
He entrusted himself to him who judges justly, that we don't have to be the ones that are,
are in that seat, that we can give this to God.
We can roll it on to God, on his shoulders.
And we don't have to take it on ours.
This has been great.
Thank you so much.
It's been a pleasure, guys.
great conversation.

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