“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgement.’But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; 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 at the altar and there 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 be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” Matthew 5:21-26
I suffer from anger. Real anger of the meltdown type. I make no excuses it should not happen but it does. It has been said that you cannot choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you react. I can’t. I can even find myself getting angry about nothing when I’m resting.
It is a drawback with different kinds of autism. Having Asperger’s Syndrome makes anger more likely, especially when things are not going the way I expect. But that excuses nothing. I am not exempt from the words of Jesus.No one is.
This part of the Sermon on the mount continues straight on from Jesus saying that he has come to fulfil the Law and the Prophets. He tells his followers that their righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Then spells it out with six examples. This is the first of them.
The formula “You have heard it said … but I say” shows Jesus taking authority over the law. His interpretation is severe. Because he is mot judging by the action, in this case murder, but the motivation behind the action, i this case anger. The law deals with actions. If someone is murdered then the law deals with the punishment of the killer. The Jewish Law, God’s good law, said that a killer should be killed if the act was premeditated. Exile to another part of the country was the punishment in the Law for manslaughter.
Not going against the Law of God, not criticising the Law or saying the Law is an ass, Jesus deals with the motivation. What to do with the anger, insulting behaviour and ridicule, saying this is what is behind the desire to want to kill. It is anger, it is critical behaviour, and it is mocking. It is mocking that gets the worst punishment, the hell of fire. (A note to satirists, just how destructive is your mocking?1)
But do not be disheartened by the impossible standards Jesus sets, as he also provides solutions. Be reconciled with those who you have a dispute with. The example Jesus gives of reconciliation, your brother has something against you, implies that your brother is the aggressor, you may well be innocent. Not being reconciled to your aggressor can have wide consequences, even to the innocent. It is more important than your religious duties, which to the Jews were written in the Law.
Jesus interprets the law not in terms of law, but in terms of relationships.
As for me and my anger, I am getting better at control. One thing I do is to avoid things that I know are going to upset me, and if I get angry to get out of the situation, If I storm out on you it is because of me not you, I cannot suppress anger well but I can go through it. This means getting away from people.
And if something on the internet upsets me there are always cat fail videos on You Tube. You can’t be angry watching a cat.