“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. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
As we will find in the rest of Matthew 5, on its surface this looks impossible. How can you expect someone to not get angry?
But the key word the unlock this passage is in verse twenty two. It is a participle and could be translated “who is being angry.”
It is not a warning about getting frustrated from time to time, but a warning about staying there. To live from anger is dangerous.
On July 8, 2010 Lebron James made one of his most regrettable mistakes. He created “The Decision” – a made for TV special where he would announce the team he would play for next season.
He famously said, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” to play for the Miami Heat. He left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
Immediately people starting burning his jerseys. His fans turned on him in an instant. Even casual fans like me chose to root against him going forward. It turned him into a villain. For the next season entire arenas booed him.
The Miami Heat had so much star power it didn’t matter. They made it to the NBA Finals anyway in 2011 to face the Dallas Mavericks. But in key moments in those important games Lebron James disappeared. He was on the court but it looked like he wanted to be somewhere else.
The best player of this current generation found that playing the villain left him exhausted. The Heat lost to the Mavericks. It looked like Lebron would never win a title.
“I play the game fun, joyful, and I let my game do all of the talking and I got away from that. That’s what I lost last year. Going through my first seven years in the NBA I was always the “liked one” and to be on the other side — they call it the dark side or the villain or whatever they call it — it was definitely challenging…”
Lebron James before 2012 season
Unfortunately for the rest of the league James learned a lesson from 2011. He wasn’t going to play from anger anymore. He was going to play from joy. He led his team to a championship in 2012. He won an Olympic gold medal in London. He is currently playing some of the best basketball in human history in his last 10 games.
Anger is not the best source to live from.
Jesus say – do something about it. Take a step to reconcile. Move away from anger.
In what ways are you “playing mad?”