If I were to take a poll today of the commandment that you feel you’ve never broken, I’m pretty sure most of us could say, “Well, at least I’ve never murdered anyone!” Hold on – Jesus says that anger is equated with murder. It’s that serious of a sin in God’s eyes. Whoa! That can’t be right, can it? I mean, all of us would probably agree that murder is the most serious sin that man can be guilty of. But Jesus is saying, “Look. Anger and murder are equal in God’s eyes when it comes to the seriousness of the sin.” [My paraphrase]
Well, is all anger wrong? No, it is not. In Ephesians 4:26, it says, “Be angry and yet; sin not.” Now, how in the world can He tell us we can be angry and yet not sin if anger is equated with murder in God’s eyes? Confused yet?
Well, when God is not respected, that is justifiable anger. And when our fellow man is taken advantage of, especially those who are the most defenseless—the unborn, a child, a widow or the poor, those that have the hardest time defending themselves—where there is injustice, then there can be righteous anger that moves a person to come to their defense. But even then, if we lose our temper, we still fall into the sin of anger. For even when there is a righteous anger, that anger must be controlled, and the more we become angry, the easier that sin begins to take control of our life.
But, the anger that is always sin and equated with murder is when we get mad at those who have wronged us. We may have to confront their wrongdoing, but not in anger. So, what Jesus is teaching is God judges us by our thoughts and motives as much as our actions. Jesus is our model when He was unjustly executed on the cross and He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”