Bryan Jones |

In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus says not only is murder wrong, but so is being angry or insulting others. He teaches us to reconcile and make peace with others quickly to avoid judgment and settle disputes before they get worse.

Jesus at the Center of the Kingdom
Anger • Message 4
Bryan Jones
July 14, 2024

A. Introduction

During the summer, I try to work ahead on the fall series… Let me tell you, I’m excited about the upcoming series… What I Wish I Knew… Single. Dating. Married.

 And Josiah… so, I’m really excited about the fall…


I want to test the anger level of this church…

How many of you would get angry at those who drive slow in the passing lane? (How many of you would stare at them as you pass by? Those of you, you’ve got issues...)

How many of you would get upset if someone brought more than 15 items into an express checkout? (How many would say something?)

How many would actually drive slower if someone honked the horn at you?

How many of you, if you get the wrong food, will send it right back? How many would keep it and eat the wrong thing?


So, in the next 35 minutes, I’m going to solve all your anger issues. Okay?

I have to say, when I was studying this text, I struggled a lot with it. Frankly, anger just didn’t seem to be that big of a deal to me.

But remember, this is Jesus teaching people about what He is like and what the Kingdom is about in the Sermon on the Mount…

So let me draw some principles…


B. Anger

1. Anger is a big deal to GOD. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Think about all the issues we have going on in our families and in the world, and anger is the thing Jesus is worried about.

 Then Jesus does something that feels a little odd to me, and dare I say dramatic? Listen, I know it’s dangerous to call a woman dramatic, but it’s even more dangerous to call Jesus dramatic! But in this passage, He compares anger to murder, listen to this…

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

Matthew 5:21-22 (NLT)


Notice you have heard. Jesus is speaking to the traditions of the Pharisees. He’s not condemning the law or the Old Testament here; what He’s doing is exposing the inconsistency and hypocrisy of saying only murder matters.

Murder is an action. What Jesus is doing is making murder and anger an attitude, a condition of the heart. He’s saying, you say murder is a big deal, but I tell you murder and hatred are a big deal.

God can’t be the center of your life if anger is at the center of your heart.


Anger is an under-the-radar sin that we tend to skip over, but Jesus is bringing it to the light.

And in slowing down and thinking about why anger is such a big deal, something hit me… if I were the enemy, Satan,  and I wanted to destroy the church, the people of God, there are two things I would do.

I would distract the church from the mission to reach people and I would cause division and fights throughout the body…

If I were Satan, I would have worship wars where preferences become a right and wrong way to do church. I’d have people focused more on their wants than serving and loving others. I have people debate Bible passages rather than allowing the Word of God to cut and search them and transform their lives. I would divide them over political issues that cause division; I would fill them with hatred and fear toward anyone who votes differently than them. I’d bring up racial tensions and just keep others arguing about their point of view without really working toward unity. I get church people more aware of the sins in the world than the logs in their own eyes. I get people so focused on the end times that they forget the mission to reach those who are far from God now. I’d convince those in the church who’ve been hurt by someone to hold onto the pain so it keeps them from God and others.

Simply put, my number one tactic to divide the church and disrupt her from the mission of making disciples would be…. Anger. (You can feel the tension.)

And sometimes it feels like Satan is winning.

Listen, I’m not trying to beat you down, and I don’t think murder and anger and hate are the same offense, but what I’m trying to do is show that anger is a big deal. Jesus is saying both to speak to an unhealthy heart…

The Pharisees were focused on the exterior, and Jesus is focused on the inside of our hearts and souls, and carrying anger and hatred is a big deal.


2. God’s anger is often DIFFERENT than ours. (James 1:19-20)

I think there are 3 types of people in the room when you talk about anger…


1. Grieve your anger

You know you struggle with anger. You grieve the way you lash out at your children. You grieve the things you say or do when anger takes hold of you. Even as I talk, you feel the weight of this subject. You want to change; you know you are pushing people away. Some of you know you won't even let certain people in because you are filled with so much anger and pain… Let me say this, the fact that you feel this way is proof that God is at work in you. Trust that.

And when you have those thoughts from the enemy that you will never change, agree with him. You can’t change, but God can change you. The only way people change is through the Spirit.  


2. Rarely angered

Have you ever known someone who rarely seems angered…  One of the Executive Pastors, David Hardy, is one of the most calm and poised people I’ve ever met. I mean, I will be worked up by stuff, and there he is, calm and poised. Trusting God and steady… One day I looked at him and said… do you ever sin? And, I know this is awful, but one of my goals is to make him sin or just be there when he does because he seems so calm… Listen, some of it is deep spiritual maturity, like in David’s case, but it’s also temperament for a lot of people. People are just wired that some will be more naturally angered. There are some in the room who are naturally calm, and those make the rest of us more angered…


3. Justify anger.

It’s not that big of a deal.  It’s my temperament. I took a personality test, and they said it’s okay. Anger is in the Bible. Jesus was angry; He flipped over tables.

The reason people justify anger, at least in the church, is they say it’s righteous anger…


The pleasure of anger—the gnawing attraction which makes one return again and again to its theme—lies, I believe, in the fact that one feels entirely righteous when one is angry. Then the other person is pure black, and you are pure white- C.S Lewis


His point is everyone thinks their anger is just or right… but what is a righteous anger, biblically speaking:


  • RIGHTEOUS anger – Anger where God’s holiness is at the center.


Jesus was arrested, beaten, spit on, mocked and ultimately killed over a false accusation. Not one account of His arrest, trial, or crucifixion mentions Him being angry.

And righteous anger is the right word order. Because God is not fundamentally angry. He is fundamentally righteous. God’s anger is a byproduct of His righteousness.

Human anger can put me at the center, not God’s holiness…  my comfort, or my reputation.

I know some people who blow up at an American Airlines attendant, and then they go, oh yeah, that’s a righteous anger…

I was reading about a guy in Texas who went to see the Guardians of the Galaxy movie with a date. But the whole time his date was on the phone, texting.

He got so frustrated that he decided that he was going to sue her for $17.31, the price of the movie ticket. She in return decided to sue him because of the hassle he created.

Now, if you are wondering if texting during a movie is a crime, it’s not. Texting during a sermon isn’t a crime. It’s a sin. And God wants you to deal with that! 


My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

James 1:19-20 (NIV)


So, what Jesus does here in the Sermon on the Mount is redefine selfish anger or hatred as a big deal.

Jesus draws on this imagery to show a new way in the Kingdom of God. That we cannot have inner hate or tear down others because it’s a sign of our inner life, our heart with God. Jesus says, hey, anger and hate aren’t just bad they are sin.


3. Anger KILLS our heart for God and others. (Matthew 5:22-24)


“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

Matthew 5:22 (NLT)


I want to draw out two things…

First, notice even angry. What’s interesting is it says even angry… it’s a present tense participle which suggests a continuous state of anger.

So, Jesus condemns an anger that broods, or refuses to let go, that holds onto…

But notice the fires of hell… There is a specific place people would have thought about called the Hinnom Valley that became a dump… It is a place where people had sacrificed their children to gods.

The point that He’s showing is anger and hatred are from Satan… Peace and love are from the Spirit. Don’t let anger give Satan a foothold on you… that’s why Jesus says deal with your anger…


“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT)


He’s saying don’t hold onto anger… don’t let it take residence in your heart…


4. Deal with anger and division QUICKLY(Ephesians 4:26-27)

What Jesus wants us to understand in the text is our hearts matter, and if we hold onto anger, it kills our relationship with God and others. Our hearts get filled up with anger and bitterness, with rage and judgement.

Let me ask you a question, if you struggle with anger, are you just as angry at your own mistakes and failures as you are at others?


“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. 

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)


The word foothold means a place or room… If you nurture anger, you are giving the devil a foothold. So think about this, you are giving the devil room or a place in your heart.

Being offended is inevitable but living offended is a choice. So, you will have frustration or anger in the moment, but it’s what you do with that that reveals your heart.

Don’t let the sun go down… drop what you’re doing…

The same day of your hurt should be the same day of your healing.

On the same day that I hurt you, I had the courage to say I’m sorry, or the day that you wronged me, I started taking steps… For some, it might take a while; for others, God will free you now…


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