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The Anger Leading to Murder

In our daily meditations, we are looking at Jesus’ teaching of what is commonly called The Sermon on the Mount. The Lord Jesus has a way of getting beyond surface issues to getting to the root of problems that affect us at the core of our being. It was a terrible thing to commit the sin of murder, but the Lord Jesus condemned even mulling over or thinking of violence to another. Sinful acts are first committed in the mind and heart of the individual. It is there that choices are weighed, and a decision is made whether the thought is to be acted upon. William Barclay, in his commentary, describes this spiritual battle in this way:


Plato likened the soul to a charioteer whose task it was to drive two horses. The one horse was gentle and biddable and obedient to the reins and to the word of command; the other horse was wild, untamed, and rebellious. The name of the one horse was reason; the name of the other was passion. Life is always a conflict between the demands of the passions and the control of the reason. The reason is the leash that keeps the passions in check. But a leash may snap at any time. Self-control may be for a moment off its guard—and then what may happen? So long as there is this inner tension, this internal conflict, life must be insecure. In such circumstances there can be no such thing as safety. The only way to safety, Jesus said, is to eradicate the desire for the forbidden thing for ever. Then and then alone life is safe. [1] 


When a person receives the gift of new life in Christ, the Spirit of God enters their life and begins a process of transformation of their inner man, their character. I have found that the Holy Spirit, in His molding and shaping ministry within us, will often put His finger on certain aspects of our character. Let me give you an example by being transparent about my early life before I received the gift of new life in Christ. Before I came to Christ at the age of 23, I was a commercial fisherman working with my father on his boat off the coast of Harwich, England. When a man is away from women and children, and among other men of the world, often the worst from within is given full vent. Commercial fishing was a hazardous and high-stress job, and many things could happen that would cause friction between co-workers. The foul language was often thick, and tempers would fray easily. I remember one time when my brother, a year older than me and working with us, was known by many to be a bully; he was using my shoulder as a punchbag, practicing his boxing skills. I remember getting so angry with him that I charged at him and tried to throw him off the boat into the River Deben near Felixstowe, Suffolk. The River Deben is well known as one of the fastest rivers in England, especially at the river entrance. If I had succeeded in throwing him overboard, the fast-flowing river would have sucked him under and killed him. I thank God for the Holy Spirit’s ability to change us and mold us into the image of Christ.


Whenever I am tempted to allow my anger to arise, when I get hot under my collar and sense my anger rising, I think of that day when I could have thrown my brother over the side of the boat. Several years ago, I visited a friend of mine who had a hole in the wall of his living room. When I asked him why he didn't fill it in and paint over it, he replied that he kept the hole there to remind him of the time he got so angry with his wife that he threw a knife at her, missed, and the blade stuck in the wall. He needed the reminder that his anger must be held in check. He wasn’t married for long. His wife soon left him, with all the hurt and baggage that came with losing his family. When we allow anger to rise within us, we don’t know what we can do if we let our anger control us instead of us controlling our anger.


Heavenly Father, please grant us self-control and godly character to pull the reins of our inner lives. Keith Thomas


William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol 1. Printed by Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh. Page 136137.


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