Quick Synopsis of This Article
Remove sinful anger from my life quickly.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) – “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Ways to Control My Anger
- See others the way God sees them
Matthew 5:22 (NIV) – “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
- Seek reconciliation even if I think I’m blameless”
- Settle matters quickly
–Observe the 24-hour rule
Questions to guide me when it comes to controlling my anger:
- How do I struggle with anger?
- Is there someone that I need to reconcile with? Who is someone I can invite to help?
- What is one thing I can do this week to help fight anger in my life?
Things to Do
- Commit to see others the way God sees them
- Pray for the Lord to reveal anyone who is angry with you
- Seek reconciliation with those I’m angry with and those angry with me
- Commit to settle future matters quickly
- Memorize Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
So How Do I Control My Anger?
You’ve heard it said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But I say, “That person has never had kids!”
You’ve heard it said… “As American as apple pie.” But I say, “Nothing beats an all you can eat buffet.”
You’ve heard it said… “The Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team.” But I say, “In the past decade, the Houston Texans have been divisional champs more than them!”
In Jesus’s most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses this literary technique of “But I Say” on 6 separate occasions. Here’s what it looks like. Jesus quotes a commonly taught teaching of the Old Testament and then follows it up with “But I Say” or “But I tell you”. Jesus will then teach God’s full intent behind the Old Testament teaching. Much to the enlightenment of the people and the frustration of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law.
This is a tough subject for me personally. You see anger is a generational sin in my family from my dad’s side. My great grandfather had legendary anger issues. As he got older in age, he needed a wooden cane to walk. However, he customized his cane. He hammered nails through it at the base so that it was literally a medieval weapon. When he would walk the neighborhood streets, he would swing it at any person or animal that crossed him or he thought might got too close. That is the definition of “anger issues”!
Now my grandfather wasn’t near that bad, but he could turn on a dime from happy and content to screaming and yelling at someone. It was never physical, always verbal. I don’t ever remember him saying anything damaging to someone, it was just very scary as a kid. When my kids were younger, Robyn and I were always very nervous going to visit. I never wanted them to see that side of him or God forbid be the recipient of an outburst. Now I don’t mean to make my grandfather sound like a rage monster, he was one of the most loving people I’ve ever known, but he struggled deeply with anger and at times it got the best of him.
My dad really began to show some victory in this generational sin. I feel like he’s the one that really started turning the tide in removing this sin from our family lineage. Was my dad perfect? No. I remember a handful of times that his temper in anger reared its ugly head. And it was ugly. But those times were isolated incidents, not the norm.
So now it’s me. I’d like to think that most people are pretty surprised to hear that I have an internal struggle with anger. “Really Pastor Adam. No way. I would have never guessed that.” That’s how far we’ve come. But I am not perfect. Each of my kids, I know can tell you of a time when I’ve fallen and my anger has won in certain circumstances.
Now listen, I’m pretty confident that anger is not a generation sin for everyone like it is for me. However, I’m also just as confident that all of us have struggled with this at certain times and moments in our lives. When someone bullies your kids or grandkids, how quickly anger can come upon us. Road rage, when we’re passed over for a promotion, when someone betrays a relationship or friendship, when promises are broken and life is shattered, I could keep going. Look, whether we want to admit it or not, this is an issue for all of us.
Think of it like this, this is such an important topic that Jesus isn’t even 400 words into his greatest sermon and we’re hit with dealing with any shred of our anger face-to-face.
So here’s what I want to do, I want to read through this passage, break it down together, and then end it with some keys so that we can walk out not struggling with this like we might have when we walked in the doors this morning.
Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. It’s the longest of all the Gospels, which tell the story of Jesus’s life. Matthew was one of Jesus’s 12 disciples and before becoming a follower of Jesus, he was a tax collector. Everyone got it. Read through it slowly because we’re studying it as we go through.
Matthew 5:21-26 (NIV)
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
Jesus starts this section quoting one of the 10 commandments, Thou shall not murder, and Leviticus 19:17. At this point, everyone agrees with Jesus. Yes, I have heard that. Yes, the pharisees have taught us that. Murder is wrong. I shouldn’t do it and if I do, then I’m subject to judgment. All agree? Yes!
22 But I tell you
Okay timeout. I want you to circle that phrase “But I tell you.” This phrase is the driving factor behind this sermon series. And the spiritual implications of these 4 words is massive. Think about what Jesus has just done. He quoted Exodus 20:13 and referenced Leviticus 19:17. Both of those verses were written by Moses and inspired by God. Jesus’s words expressed an authority so great it would have surprised all listeners. Who is this guy that He feels like he has the authority to expand on the very words of God? Jesus implicitly claimed his deity by using these 4 words, But I tell you.
Now look, before I continue, I want you to see that Jesus is not about to contradict Exodus & Leviticus, He’s about to teach on the heart and true intention behind the words of Moses.
that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
When God gave the sixth commandment, He did not just want people to refrain from murdering one another. He also wanted them to refrain from the hatred that leads to murder. Murder is only the highest external demonstrations of an internal problem. The scribes and Pharisees dealt only with the external act. They were only concerned with the outside and not the inside. Jesus showed that God’s concern ran much deeper. Refraining from murder does not make a person righteous in God’s sight. I mean think about it, as long as I don’t kill someone, I’m good. I can do anything else in God’s eyes and I’m still squeaky clean. Really!
But noticing something else, this judgment is different. Any human court can judge on murder. Our courts do on a regular basis. However, only God’s heavenly court has the ability judge on our internal emotions, motives, and desires. Remember, man sees what’s external, while God sees our hearts.
Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ Raca Aramaic word that translates to “Good-for-nothing, imbecile, stupid” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Remember the standard is not “do not murder.” It’s like telling your supervisor, “I’m the ideal employee. I should be Employee of the Month because I didn’t burn the building down!” Jesus is saying, Look I speak for God because I am God, and I’m more concerned about the condition of your heart toward others than simply not murdering them.
Now Jesus expands on this by two examples of how this is to play out in our lives. And it’s very interesting.
The first example concerns our worship at church.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Now, this example takes place at their temple worship. All the brothers and sisters in the faith are already gathered together. The “you” in this example is not the person who is angry, but the person with whom the anger has been directed. This individual did something, right or wrong it doesn’t say, that angered someone else to the point where someone has something against them. Jesus is very clear that in the order of priorities, reconciling with your brother or sister is more important than the offering you bring.
Now it’s important to note that this individual is not leaving the temple. The person that has something against them is in the room. At some point during temple worship they are to go and reconcile, then return to their seat and give their offering.
That’s example number one, here’s number 2.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
In this example, something has happened and it has led to a court case. Also, notice Jesus uses the word adversary. Very rarely does someone become your adversary in one moment. Most of the time it happens slowly after several situations and interactions.
Well, it’s built up to the point now where you’re going to court. Jesus says before you get there settle your matter while you are still in control. Because notice in verse 25 what could happen. Your adversary MAY hand you over to the judge, and the judge MAY hand you over to the officer, and you MAY be thrown into prison. Once that snowball begins to roll, you have no control. You might end up in prison or you might not. Do you want to risk it?
Neither of Jesus’s examples involve murder. That’s why Jesus tells the crowd that he did not come to abolish the law they had heard and been taught since birth. He has come to fulfill them.
I heard it explained like this once. If someone comes to your house and is thirsty and asks for some water. What would happen if you opened the cabinet, got out a glass, gave them the empty glass without anything in it and assumed that that would meet their need. They would look at you like you’re crazy and might even be a little offended. Now the glass is essential to getting the water, but you’ve missed it. You’ve missed the intent. The intent was to take the glass, fill it with water and then give it to them so that their thirst could be met.
Do not murder is just the glass. Jesus fills it with His “but I say…”
Listen to me, Jesus is far more concerned with the condition of your heart than merely your actions. Get this, according to the CDC in 2022, there were 26,031 homicides in the United States. Honestly, that’s a lot lower than I expected. I mean if you watch the news you’d think there were 26,000 per day in Chicago alone. If “do not murder” was the standard for living a righteous Godly life then we’d be the most holy righteous Godly nation ever! But we know that’s not true.
The key is to remove sinful anger from my life quickly.
Got it. But wait Pastor Adam. So, I’m not supposed to ever be angry? That’s a great question!
Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Ephesians chapter 4…
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
In your anger do not sin. So can you be angry and not sin? YES! Anger is an emotion. Just like grief, loneliness, frustration, excitement, and sadness. There is nothing sinful about emotions or having emotions. It’s what you do with them. It’s how you handle yourself based off your emotions.
In both of Jesus’s examples anger has moved past a mere emotion. Remember the first example at church it said if someone has anything against you. It moved past emotion and now I’ve got something against you. And remember the second, it’s gone so far past emotion that there’s now a court case and you might go to prison.
So now, how do I fight sinful anger in my life?
1. See others the way God sees them
This is the big one. Look back at Matthew 5 verse 22 again…
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
When you think someone is a Raca. When you think they are “good for nothing”. When you think of them as an imbecile stupid moron. Or maybe you call someone a fool – you are judging them based on something they’ve done, not who they are and definitely not the way God sees them. That was your first mistake.
Now how does God see them? Because if I can see them the way God sees them, then I can have the emotion of anger but stop before I get to the good for nothing, imbecile, you fool. Because I will see tem the same way he does. So how does He see them? The same way He sees you. As His most precious creation, fearfully and wonderfully made. Sinful, yes, but that he loves so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for them.
So l want to ask you, do you see how quickly anger can get out of control? Let’s be honest, do people do stupid things sometimes? Yes. Do people say stupid and mean things sometimes? Yes. And is it okay to be angry? Yes. Anger is a natural emotion. That’s why Paul says in Eph 4:26, in your anger do not sin.
But the moment we begin to think of and label those people as Raca, good for nothing fools we begin to sin. That’s when our anger begins to grow past simply an emotion. That’s why we have to see others the way God sees them. This is your frontline to protecting yourself from letting anger grow.
2. Seek reconciliation even if I think I’m blameless
Remember Jesus’s first example, the one at church at temple worship for them. This example is so powerful to me because it deals with the recipient of anger not the one who is angry. How easy would it be to simply say, “Well that’s their problem, not mine! I don’t even think I did anything wrong. I’m good. They’re the ones with the anger issues.”? It would be so easy to fall into that trap, but Jesus tells the recipient of the anger to go and seek reconciliation. You go to them and begin to heal the relationship.
Whether you are blameless or not doesn’t matter. It’s more important for you to begin to heal that relationship than to present your gift or offering before the Lord.
And I don’t think it’s an accident that Jesus uses this as his first example and I don’t think it’s an accident that his example takes place in a church setting. Why? Because it’s exactly what God did for us and why we’re here today.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. God didn’t do anything wrong, Jesus didn’t do anything wrong. We did! God could have easily said to us, “Tough, not My problem. Your sin, your issue.” But He didn’t – the one who was wronged, betrayed, sinned against sent his son.
Jesus came to us, lived a perfect life and then died on the cross for our sins. He was blameless. He took the first step. He paid the punishment for all of our sins. Look if there’s never been a time in your life when you’ve put your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus Christ, ask him to forgive you of your sins, and pledge your life to follow him. Would you do that today? You can do that by visiting this page.
The very thing Jesus is asking us to do in his first example when dealing with anger is the exact thing that God did to us when he sent his son to become our lord & savior.
Here’s number 3 – Look back at verse 25 in Matthew 5 – what are the first three words?!
3. Settle matters quickly
That’s number 3. What are you supposed to do? Settle matters quickly. I love it when Jesus gets this clear and direct with us. So many times when we are reading scripture and we’re seeking God’s will and we’re like, God just tell me what you want me to do. What do you want? – Settle matters quickly. I said it. Right there.
Do not let your anger grow out of proportion. Have you ever been at odds with someone and you can’t remember how it started? Because you didn’t settle matters quickly. By the time you get to the level of a court case, there’s a lot on the line. It could be your finances, future, family could be on the line, job or future career. There’s a lot of risk you risk going to trial.
Here’s what I want you to do:
Observe the 24-hour rule
In Eph verse 27 it says, do not let the sun go down on your anger. Paul is teaching us that there should be a time limit as to how long you will go before you begin to settle matters. Now look what if the sun is already down when something happens and you get angry. NOOOOO! That’s not the point. The point is that there needs to be a set amount of time and you will not go past it. Observe the 24 hour rule.
I understand that many people are processors. I’m not ready to address it yet. I get that. I just need some time. I understand but you can’t wait too long. Because if you wait too long, you run the risk of it growing. You run the risk of stuffing it, sealing it, thinking that it’s been handled with, but it’s just waiting to roar its ugly head later. Settle matters quickly.
You can do this. The whole do not murder. Got it! I can leave and go home successful from church! Don’t be angry. That’s a little bit harder. You can do this. I’m proof. I truly believe that my kids will be the one to eradicate the generational sin of anger from our family lineage. I truly believe that my grandkids will be able to say that anger used to be a generational sin in our family. Key words – “used to”.
What would that look like for you?
What would it look like if we all did this?
Think about it. With as many people in the room what would it look like if we understood how to handle anger. What would it look like if we all embodied “in your anger do not sin.”? If we didn’t have things against people. Our community would be forced to take notice, because we live differently. We live by a fuller, higher calling and his name is Jesus Christ. You’ve heard it said, but I say…
by Pastor Adam Jungeblut