Addressing the masses gathered on the hillside, Jesus raised the bar of righteousness to unprecedented heights, “You have heard that it was said . . . ‘you shall not murder…’ but I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment’” (Matthew 5.21-22). To this crowd of Jews—who’d been taught to follow the Law based on their behavior, not their thoughts and attitudes—the “rules” had been changed dramatically.
Jesus isn’t changing the Law here, but is mining its depths. Anger is an attitude of the heart that says, “I wish you didn’t exist.” He’s challenging his followers to guard their hearts and recognize that thoughts lead to attitudes, attitudes lead to words, and words lead to actions.
Murder isn’t just killing the body; it can kill a reputation, friendships, a career, and on and on. It’s malicious and destructive. God doesn’t grade sin on a scale of, “not so bad” to “worse.” All sin is bad, whether it’s a thought or action.
In God’s eyes there’s no difference between anger toward someone or murdering them. If you’re angry, deep in your heart you’re lacking forgiveness.
As you lift your heart and hands to God in prayer today, ask him to help you assess your relationships and reveal any harbored anger. Read Psalm 139. 23-24 and if any anger is revealed, confess it as you ask him for help to forgive.