May 19, 2015

Matthew 5:21 -- 26

You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, "You shall not kill," that whoever kills is liable to judgement. But I say to you, that everyone angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council; and whoever says, "You fool!" shall be liable to a fiery Hell. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you -- Leave your gift at the altar. Go! -- First be reconciled to your brother; and then come and offer your gift.

Make friends 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 be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.


Anger is hell. Acting on it makes things worse; and the suffering becomes entrenched when one can't stop defending his anger.

Feelings of anger are no doubt unavoidable; but as one student of the subject concluded -- Anger is more than merely the emotion we recognize as 'being angry': "It's an emotion plus a judgement."

If you didn't feel that someone had harmed you, if you didn't feel he was at fault in the matter; you'd have no reason to be angry at him. Only God could do you serious harm; yet you become angry at this human being who, regardless of his intentions or his carelessness, has merely delivered your karma. There is no one worth fearing -- or being angry at -- except God.

If it's really God you should blame, what are the chances that you're missing something about what really happened and why it was necessary?

Clearly that's a figurative 'prison' in the last paragraph; and the debt is not a literal one. Still, if something inside is accusing you of being in the wrong, that's part of you. You don't have to agree with it; you do need to face what it's talking about and consider whether or not that's something you'd better recognize. If so, it's done you a valuable service. [But do keep in mind something that Jesus says elsewhere: "The Devil always was a liar."]

If you want to live in a world where the Spirit rules, and prayers have power to influence what happens -- then you need to clean up your act. God won't do evil; but wishing He would could only weaken your faith.


At 5:59 p.m., Blogger olivia said...


Yes, I find that being angry is often about the story we tell ourselves about what happened. And that once we unravel that and tell ourselves a different story about it, it has the chance to be a story that no longer fuels anger.

It certainly seems to be an unavoidable emotion -- and one that often is serving the divine function of self-protection, and self-awareness in ways that we need.

But if we can instantly recognize the story and not tell that? Or tell a different one that perhaps God is trying to tell? Wouldn't that be something.

At 11:19 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

I don't think God would have made us with an 'illegal emotion.' On another hand, the 'being angry' emotion is stressful, unpleasant when you realize it is not making you stronger, but impairing your efforts towards 'self-protection.

On another hand, it's an appropriate emotion for a child whose boundaries are being attacked. So people get these 'implicit memories' of childhood rage; and -- in circumstances I really don't understand -- They can grow up with a need to re-experience that emotion, which can lead them into situations that trigger it.

In my own case, the chief necessary emotion seemed to be sorrow... but I also remember what a menace I was when I used to drive, how much anger felt justified whenever another driver behaved badly. (I can feel more saintly now that I don't drive, but my hope that my nature has changed since then is merely a hope.)

What are the dominant forms of 'entertainment' in our culture, but stories we can be told to stimulate our anger, sorrow, fear? What does this say about the ways people tend to understand the news world, the political world, their personal and familty situations? What, for that matter, does it do to people's perceptions of God?


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