Have you ever called anyone a fool or an idiot? I would probably do better to ask if anyone has not called someone that! So, we probably should take Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:21-26 seriously. But doesn’t the Bible, Paul and even Jesus himself refer to people as fools and foolish? So, what exactly is Jesus getting at here?
The Bible does make a moral and spiritual evaluation of those who choose to reject God, that they are fools. I have also in sadness had to tell someone as he shipwrecked his marriage and refused to listen to the advise of others that he was being a fool. No, we are not talking about ruling about harsh but true evaluations. This is getting us to think about heart attitudes further.
Jesus has said that if we carry anger in our hearts towards others that this is as good as murder. This is true because anger is the breeding ground for violence against others. It is also true because when we hold onto anger and bitterness, it kills. It destroys or kills relationships, it kills our witness to others and it kills our joy and delight in the Lord.
One way in which this happens is that although we suppress our anger, we cannot prevent it from bubbling up leading to outbursts against others. In an early article, I talked about how health issues may lead to horrific immoral behaviour, sadly not because they change our personality but because the self-control gets stripped away and things we have suppressed start to come out. I may be able to hold down my anger, my hatred, my racism in my 30s and 40s but if I have not dealt with those things then one day they will start to come out. I may be able to bite my lip in the presence of others but at sometime my true thoughts will slip out.
That’s why Jesus urges us to get things sorted out and not delay. Don’t be at the altar performing your outer righteousness when there is something that needs sorting out. Don’t dilly-dally about resolving things because you might find yourself in court. Of course, the court we are to fear is not the civil court over a libel action. Rather, our concern should be to get things sorted before we have to stand in front of the God who sees the heart.
Is there someone you need to say sorry to? Is there someone you need to say “I forgive you” to? Don’t hold onto anger in your heart, don’t delay. Get it sorted with them now.