When we think about how it must have been to live under the Law of Moses, we can be thankful that living under Christ is a much simpler existence. However, it’s not the case that Jesus said to just forget all the laws and do what you want. In fact, there were some instances when He said that more is expected of us than what was stated in the Law of Moses.
For example, one of the original Ten Commandments was “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Now, while it’s probably true that none of us have been guilty of murder, have you ever felt like you could kill someone? I’m not talking about just saying the words (which many people do as a habit, saying, “I’m gonna kill you” when they’re upset with someone). I’m talking about really being that angry with someone that you could actually take their life.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus puts this type of anger on the same level as actually following through with the murder:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22)
Wait, is Jesus actually saying that being angry with someone is the same as killing them? No, he’s not saying it’s the same thing, but He is saying that someone with the Spirit of God within them should never reach this level of anger. If you do, even if you don’t follow through with the physical act, you have allowed the enemy to enter your heart, so you are then in a dangerous place. You may not be at risk of being arrested, but you are at risk of separating yourself from the Spirit of God.
Even assuming that we don’t get angry enough to kill someone, we should do our best (with the help of the Holy Ghost) to manage our anger. Being human, there will be occasions when we will be angry. However, these should be isolated events, put behind us as soon as possible (“Let not the sun go down upon your wrath”) and not used as an excuse to act in a non-Christlike manner (“Be ye angry, and sin not”).
Sadly, we see in society today that many people are angry with other people. We see people angry with people whose political positions differ from theirs. We see people who believe that we should deal with the Covid threat in a certain way angry with people who believe we should deal with it in a different way. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in this general attitude of anger, we will find ourselves becoming angry more often, even at people who are close to us, such as family, friends, or brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the world, there are courses known as “Anger Management” to help people who can’t control their anger. As the people of God, we have our own Anger Management steps that we can take to help us overcome anger. Here are a few suggestions:
- When angry with an individual, try praying for that person.
- When angry with a situation, pray for the will of God regarding the situation such that either the situation will change or our anger toward it will cease.
- Remember that our brothers and sisters in Christ — even those who have some different views than we do — also love the Lord very much.
- Go to church (how can we be angry while singing the hymns and partaking of the Lord’s Supper?)
- Be careful about associating with angry people. Anger is contagious, and there’s nothing an angry person wants more than to spread that anger to others. Proverbs counsels us to “make no friendship with an angry man” (22:24) and that “an angry man stirreth up strife” (29:22).
- Don’t allow passion for worldly causes to exceed our passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- In general, allow the joy of salvation and the peace that God provides to overcome any attitude of anger.
In our eternal home, there will be no anger — there will only be joy. Try to live a similar existence on earth — let the Holy Ghost help you manage your anger such that you can live a life filled with the blessings of God and opportunities to share the joy of salvation with others. (Oh, and don’t kill anybody — that’s still a big no-no).
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.