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Anger management

[Jesus speaking at the beginning of his public life] You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that (1) everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; (2) whoever says “rhaka” about his brother will be liable to the Court and (3) whoever says “moros” will be liable to the hell of fire..... Matthew 5: 21-22


Members of the States of Jersey seem to be riddled (if that’s the correct word) with anger one towards another. But they’re not alone, are they?


Anger has become so prominent in the workplace and elsewhere that public-facing employees need to be trained in anger management. Have you seen the notices in Jersey at public counters? They notify that staff will treat people civilly but warn that if people do not reciprocate there will be consequences. They’re in the General Hospital A&E, the Airport and Cyril Le Marquand House’s Tax Department. Go and take a look – but stay calm!


Jesus’ teaching about anger management is very helpful. See bold above.


“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.”’ The 10 Commandments of the LORD God to Moses around 1350 BC in the Old Testament are indeed old. “You shalt not kill.” There the original Hebrew word for kill included causing human death by carelessness and negligence.


But I say to you” (said Jesus (1) above) “that everyone who is angry with his brother” is very likely to be condemned and punished as a murderer. It’s anger that is the intangible root cause of murder. Anger’s impulsive passion is more evil than the deed because it precedes it.


There’s more. Both (2) and (3) above relate to what is actually said, what comes out of my mouth. Words are of great importance to Jesus for one good reason – they disclose what is inside a person. You may ask, ‘What about when someone is lying?’ Yes, even when a person is lying. His words then disclose what is inside him, disclose corruption within.


Look closely at the words used by that one person of another. Jesus teaches (in (2) above) that the one who says “rhaka” becomes liable to Court proceedings. “Rhaka” is Greek for any kind of moral delinquency. Moral delinquency then and now would include dishonesty, lies, and all kinds of intangible inner moral wrong that give rise to bad actions.


In the context of “anger” Jesus is warning that those (apparently righteous) who say (in anger?) of others that those others are in some way morally delinquent are liable to Court proceedings. This may well not have been the case in Jerusalem at that time. Those who follow Jesus must know for certain that such statements are very dangerous for those who make them.


To complete the picture, look at (3) above. In this case the word that Jesus identifies as very, very dangerous (to the one who says it) is the Greek “moros”. It is from this word that we obtain the English word “moron”. It goes beyond a statement that another is a moral delinquent and into a spoken assertion that another, animal like, has no ability to relate to God, to Jesus or to his love and mercy and grace demonstrated at the cross.


How interesting that Jesus himself uses the word “moros” a little later. He says – “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish (Greek “moros”) man who built his house on the sand. Yes, in (3) above, Jesus puts on the lips of a person a statement that another person is lost for ever.


And Jesus says that such a speaker exposes himself/herself to the strong probability that the speaker will be the one who will be lost to the grace and goodness and blessing that arises from the Cross and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


What a doom! Just because of spoken words!


Well, yes. But it’s because spoken words disclose what is inside a person. And if a person is so angry that he states that another is lost to the love of God, he himself may well be, in fact, lost to that love himself – for ever.

'Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.’ (William Shakespeare, Playwright and Poet, 1564-1616)
‘There is no readier way for a man to bring his own worth into question, than by endeavouring to detract from the worth of other men.’  (John Tillotson, Preacher, 1630-1694)
Richard Syvret

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