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The Heart of the Matter - Matthew 5:21-26

Introducing one of Jesus’ teaching formulas - V. 21-22

In our last message, we saw Jesus call us to proper understanding of the Old Testament’s teaching as it points to faith in Him. In the rest of chapter 5, Jesus teaches us what He means by 6 times using the formula “You have heard that it was said, but I say to you.”

The Scribes and Pharisees focused their teaching on external obedience to God’s commands, but Jesus focused His lessons on internal obedience that comes from love for God from the heart.

Josh McDowell understood this when he wrote Truth Matters: Behind every precept is a principle based on God’s Person.

Jesus makes His disciples work harder by faith than the Pharisees did – because Jesus takes you beyond checklists of external obedience and makes you as His follower deal with root issues in your heart by faith!

Heaven finds you guilty of a type of murder - V. 21-22

Jesus’ teaching leads us to conclude that sinful anger inside our hearts is the root problem behind outward acts of violence and murder, and that letting sinful anger go undealt with is already liable to Heaven’s judgment.

In the Greek Jesus specifically says, “Whoever calls his brother, “Raca” will be liable to the Sanhedrin. When they said the word Raca they were calling them “empty-head,” someone with nothing inside their head.

This is the first time that Jesus compares Hell to Gehenna, the place in Jerusalem they burned garbage. Jesus is essentially saying, “If you call another person garbage, you’re the person who deserves judgment.”

Our problem is that even when we are right to be angry we usually don’t handle our anger in right ways. And because of our selfishness many times when we have felt our anger was justified, it really was not – it was just a sinful outburst.

Put relationship mending ahead of even your church obligations - V. 23-24

In the spirit of Family Feud, where is the number one place that verses 23-24 need to be applied? In the Home.

Resolve conflict ASAP before the consequences get worse - V. 25-26

“Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” - Ephesians 4:26

If you hold on to anger and don’t try to restore broken relationships proactively, it will continue to cost you dearly, affecting spiritual health, physical health, emotional health, even financial health.

Some things are not going to get fully resolved. But we can agree to disagree on some matters and still agree in the Lord (as the 2 ladies were asked to do in Philippians chapter 4).

Practical tips for dealing with anger:
Be growing in your relationship with your Triune God. That is the only way you will have the spiritual resources to overcome sinful anger.
When you feel angry, PAUSE, count to three, and quote James 1:19-20. 
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”        -James 1:19-20
Pray about the underlying spiritual things going on in people’s lives.
Be proactive as God leads you.
React with God’s grace rather than nurse resentments.