Following a train of thought today. I have been pondering for some time now about the bit where Jesus talked about the law to not murder–Matt 5:21-22. The law says that the one who murders is liable to judgement. But Jesus went on to say if a person is angry with his brother he is liable to judgment. Hmmm. The language nut in me says, Is that “liable” as in vulnerable to lawsuit; culpable, guilty? Or is that liable as in likely or prone to make a judgment?”
A while back I learned that Hebrew is a multi-layerd language. There are different layers of meaning to every letter of the alphabet–at least three. But then when combined in words? Whew, I don’t know where it goes from there. That made sense to me when I look at dictionaries and the translation of one English word would have a huge array of Hebrew meanings. It didn’t make sense till I learned about these layers!
So, I think Jesus probably meant both things. When we are angry we are generally also guilty of something! And, when we are angry our brain’s inhibiting processes disappear and we say things…and make judgments. Not in the sense of making an assessment, but in the sense of condemnation. It is the condemnation, the looking down on the other, that gets us in trouble with God’s law. Judgment, in the sense of condemnation, is God’s perview and His alone. When we step into that role we usurp God’s position. Taking God’s place is not a good idea.
From a completely selfish perspective it isn’t a good idea to condemn because it kicks another law into gear. Matt. 7:1 and Luke 6:37,38 say, “Judge not, lest you be judged. For the judgement you give out will come back on you, pressed down, shaken together and running over. (My paraphrase) Cripes! Not only does that judgment fly out there like a ball and hit a wall, it flys back and hits you in the eye! We get the very thing we dish out–with interest! In judging then we are also guilty before the law and will suffer the consequences of violating the law.
There is no winning here. I like Jesus conclusion…just don’t do it! But then the advocate in me says, “Ya, but what about the scripture that says,’Be angry and sin not. Don’t let the sun go down upon your anger.” What about that? Isn’t Jesus saying two different things? I don’t think so.
We all come with a full set of feelings; whether we learn to identify and use them is another matter. Anger is one of them. Feelings give us information; sometimes it is accurate and sometimes inaccurate. Or perhaps it is the meaning we attach to it that is accurate or inaccurate. When we are hurt or offended it fires off and alerts us that something is wrong.Our cingulate cortex has the responsibility of connecting feelings to facts (what happened) and then our minds interpret the meaning. Feelings, facts and meanings are all stored in different places in our brains. There are at least three possibilities for error!
I believe Jesus was saying that since we all have the feelings of anger. Then He explains what anger is for and how to use it–we are to acknowledge and validate the feeling–acknowledge the hurt–and then get busy because we only have a limited amount of time to rectify whatever is wrong before we are in bigger trouble. Matt. 5:23,24 says, “If you are offering a gift at the alter and remember that your brother has something against you, drop everything and go! First be reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift.” God sees reconciliation–righting the wrong and putting out the fire of anger as more important than offering a gift to Him! Of course! The rift in relationship stands between us and God. We can’t come closer to Him as long as it is there. Undealt with anger interferes with our relationship with God. It has to go.
It has to go quickly–before sundown. This speaks to the urgency of keeping short accounts with everyone. When harsh feelings are not addressed they fester. Soon a person is nursing a resentment which changes the focus from God to self. Every emotion will be expressed, at some point. Resentments that have simmered will come out sideways and in unexpected ways that are unrelated to the original disagreement. We don’t recognize where the person is coming from or why all the venom or force behind what they are saying or doing. The hurt becomes compounded. The ball has hit us in the eye. Now in addition to an offense we have a black eye and don’t know why!
Yup, I think Jesus was right. Don’t go there. I think the place to go is Jesus and ask for the grace to deal with the situation. Work it through; hammer it out. Whatever it is, get to the bottom of it and set things right in the relationship.
One last note: Be sure to leave your name and an active email address if you would like to enter my drawing for a set of books. Either the books on high sensitivity or the Sassy Pants series. I’ve written a cute story for kids about righting wrongs. Do come look at www.sassypantsco.blogspot.com.
Hey! The Jenny Wrens are back from their winter home. I can hear them singing! May your day be filled with joy and song and beauty.
Blessings, Carol Brown