Q. Does this commandment refer only to murder?
A. By forbidding murder God teaches us that he hates the root of murder: envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness (1). In God’s sight all such are disguised forms of murder (2).
Read: (1) Prov. 14:30; Rom. 1:29; 12:19; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 2:9-11; (2) 1 John 3:15.
Road rage. Shortness of temper and snarky comments every time we can. A silent bitterness that boils with evil thoughts against someone. Anger has different faces and all of them are as evil in the eyes of God because even if it is a silent expression, we have committed murder. But what does anger have to do with murder? And what is the antidote against this? Let’s study question 106 of The Heidelberg Catechism to find out.
“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” (Matthew 5:21-22a). In our everyday lives it is rare when we think about anger as murder. We simply feel justified, authorized, entitled to be angry but we never see our anger as offensive to God. And sister, even if you have been wronged by someone, we are called to be meek. Why?
Well, for starters, anger shows what you really worship. When you are angry it is usually because in a moment something that you wanted became unattainable; what mattered to you was revealed. For instance, you wanted to go through that green light and the car in front of you wasn’t fast enough. Or your colleague got the promotion instead of yourself. Or you’ve served your neighbor nonstop and she hasn’t returned the favor. And somehow because you don’t get what you want, you get angry and in that anger, idolatry is revealed. And all of a sudden, not only are you murdering someone but you are doubly offending God!
Now, I am not saying that anger is always sinful. There is evil in our world and we are right to be angry against those atrocities. We are right to be angry when there is injustice. We are right to be angry when there is unjustified suffering. We are right to be angry when the image of God in others is violated. But sister, if we are honest, most of the angry bouts in our lives are not directed towards this sort of evil, but are rather, an indignation because our little “self” didn’t get what we want, when we want it. The root of anger is that we love ourselves and worship ourselves too much.
Now I don’t want you to be discouraged. God calls us to a different standard not because anger is never righteous, but because of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross for us. When we are called to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22) and to love our enemy (Matthew 5:44) we are called to imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We are called to look on and meditate on what happened on The Cross. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). While we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him through the death of Jesus (Romans 5:10). While we had rightfully offended God and we were alienated from Him because of our evil deeds (Col. 1:21) He still forgave us, He still loved us.
Sister, this is huge! Because God could have simply killed us. It would have been just. It would have been right. We deserved it. And yet, He loved us and He took all that wrath that we deserved, that holy, eternal anger that we deserved and placed it on Christ so that you and I could be forgiven. We were saved from the righteous anger of God. And when we get the depths of this love and forgiveness, that anger that we feel is justifiable and that we are entitled to, has to fade away. It is because Christ did, that in His power, we can too.
So sister, I don’t know what anger you are harboring in your heart today. Is it a righteous anger against the evils of the world or is it an anger because of your idolatry for yourself? And if it is the second type, will you look and meditate on the Cross so that as you understand the depths of God’s love for you, our anger may melt away?