Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Matthew 5:22
Guernica, Pablo Picasso’s most important political painting, was a modernist portrayal of the 1937 destruction of a small Spanish town by that name. During the Spanish revolution and the ramp-up to World War II, Nazi Germany’s planes were permitted by Spain’s Nationalist forces to use the town for bombing practice. These controversial bombings took scores of lives, drawing the attention of a global community concerned over the immorality of bombing civilian targets. Picasso’s painting captured the imaginations of the watching world and became a catalyst for debate about humanity’s capacity to destroy one another.
For those of us who feel confident that we would never intentionally shed blood, we should remember Jesus’ words, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21–22). The heart can be murderous without ever actually committing murder.
When unchecked anger toward others threatens to consume us, we desperately need the Holy Spirit to fill and control our hearts so that our human tendencies can be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19–23). Then, love, joy, and peace can mark our relationships.
How healthy are your relationships? How can you allow the Spirit to produce fruit that enables healthier relationships?
Heavenly Father, help me when I want to strike back at those who hurt me. Please help me to respond with love.
Learn more about the place of forgiveness in your life.
Matthew 5:22 cautions us against anger. But anger as a human response to people or situations isn’t necessarily wrong. The psalmist wisely warned us, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Psalm 4:4 esv). Jesus was angry at the Jewish merchants who desecrated the temple (John 2:13–16) and at the unbelief of the Jews (Mark 3:5). The apostle Paul was angry at the idolatry he saw in Athens (Acts 17:16). But it’s sinful when we let anger control us: “ ‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26–27 nlt). Paul said to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (4:31). James cautioned us to be “slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19–20).