7 Steps to Murder Someone without Pulling the Trigger?

Have you ever got up in the morning and pondered,

“Who am I going to murder today with my tongue?” Of course not. But oh how often we slay fellow humans because we did not begin the day with pre-meditated love. To be sure, if our hearts are not set on love, they will nestle down into a justified bunker where we launch murderous words like grenades over a wall.

After reading Exodus 2:11-14 and Matthew 5:21-26, I come up with this:

7 Steps to Murder Someone without Pulling the Trigger?

1.     See or Perceive an Injustice. (like Moses did)

2.     Feel indignation and anger. (like Moses did)

(So far, you have not murdered. But here comes the cocking of the trigger in the heart and on the tongue. Anger can either go godly at this point or ungodly, depending on what one believes about the future justice of God, the humility of the heart, and the slowness to anger that tempers words and attitudes)

3.     Believe that you are innocent of what you judge. (like Moses did)

4.     Believe that you have a unique right to engage any wrong that you see or perceive. (like Moses did)

5.     Don’t Look Up at the one who sees and hears everything. Forget that Christ is Judge of all. (like Moses did not)

6.     Feel that your life, or the life of someone important to you, is more valuable than the life of others. (like Moses valued the life of his kindred over the life of the Egyptian. If Moses were consistent, he would not have verbally engaged his Hebrew brothers, he would have murdered the one who was guilty of picking the fight)

7.     Use speech that communicates that someone’s life is worthless. (Moses used his hands but Jesus saw the emotion that caused the hands to murder – that’s why the emotion itself is just as wrong as the act).

In his opening sermon, Jesus aims at the heart. The real intention of the Law was the pre-murderous emotions and dispositions that lie behind the act of murder. Sinful anger can be white-hot rage or cool and passive contempt. The kind of anger that Jesus is talking about here is the kind that ends up screaming at the referee who makes a judgment call that is harmful to our team and then with contempt we call him a name and treat his existence as a human as worthless or good for nothing. Then, when the same ref makes a bad call that actually turns good for our team, we celebrate his stupidity that adds to our score. God sees that kind of double-minded wickedness.

Still again, sinful anger can be silent, passive, and smug in its contempt towards others, seeing others as worthless rubbish because of wealth, education, race, gender, or anything that you use to feel superior over others.

We become offended at minor snubs, and minor acts of disrespect. We rage at people who cut us off in traffic and then hurl words that imply worthlessness.  Anger and contempt are interior states of the heart that can lead to murder. John says, Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). Behind murder lies the judgment, the conviction that someone who has failed us or wronged us deserves to die. (oops! I just convicted myself, for I have wronged God and deserve to die. Will I now extend the same mercy that I want?)

Sinful anger, that emotion gone wild and apart from God’s restraining grace would have led to physical murder, often pivots on the hearts belief about justice. It is not sinful to be angry over real sin. We’re commanded to be angry over falsehood and anything that is contrary to godliness (Psalm 4:4, 5; Eph. 5:25-27). But godly anger becomes murderous sinful anger when we feel justified to use words or actions that convey contempt and hatred because we refuse to wait for God’s justice upon the transgressor.

But see what God has done for us as the apostle Peter preaches the gospel:

Acts 2:22-24, 36-41

A.   God executes his son in our place

B.   And men murdered Jesus Christ

B`So that Murderers (Moses, Paul, you, and me)

A` May not be executed

Now that’s good news indeed!

If you were angry like God, you would be a most loving person – part 2

Years ago, Jerram Barrs, professor of practical theology at Covenant Theological Seminary gave us the assignment: “Go home and ask your wife what she thinks will be your greatest challenge in pastoral ministry – that is what you will write on.” I remember loathing this because I sort of knew what Cheryl was going to say. So I asked and she spoke without hesitation  – and without praying about it (not very spiritual wouldn’t you say?!), “Anger.” I said, “*&$^#&()()%*&@^^@^” – that can’t be true!!!!!!

We experience the emotion of anger every day. In the words of Ed Welch, anger is an emotion that says two things and these two things must always be there in order to feel anger: 1. A perceived injustice (whether real or not); and, 2. It has to be important to me. For example, I don’t feel much anger at all if the news reports that a man’s tires were slashed in Mobile, Alabama. But if my tires are slashed, well, then . . .Just call me Heat Miser.

You see, a perceived injustice AND importance to me, are the two requisites for anger. The question is: Does my anger match God’s? And if it did, would I be a more loving person?

Unlike love, God’s anger is always earned. It is merited, it is provoked, it is stirred up – it is kindled. God’s Love however is never like this. The bible does not teach that God is Anger. He is Love. But God does get angry to protect what he loves. Watching God get angry is what we need if we are to become more loving persons than we are.

Hear what the prophet Micah had to say about God’s anger:

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old” – (7:18-20).

If you want to know how redeeming your anger affects marriage, child-rearing, employment, dealing with sinful behavior, relationships and friendships, and the built-in frustrations of life, then know this:

God’s anger is a redeeming anger!

God’s anger actually makes things better. His anger does not destroy what is already broken but repairs what needs to be repaired. God is never ashamed of his anger and he never sins in his anger. His anger always operates through his love. In other words, God does not blow off steam when things go haywire, letting the pent-up frustration spew out of his system, and then return to love. No, it is his love for his chosen that regulates his anger.

Does your anger end up separating you from the one you love or does it bring you together? This does not mean that God’s love does not discipline – it does (Heb. 12:6ff). But there again, it is his love that moves him to train our hearts to be like his. This of course has a narrow application for you – there are a hundred other variables that come into play in the real day-to-day relational dance between those we love and our anger. But start somewhere – and this is a good place to start. Is your anger tearing down or repairing that which is already broken? You’ll need grace and mercy to become more loving like God so that when it is time to be angry, it will aim to redeem and heal.

This is how God shows his anger to you today. He loves you and will only deal with your sins (a real injustice) through the finished work of his Son where all his anger was exhausted. His anger aims to protect the object of his love – not destroy it (your affection for him is really important to him).

If You were Angry like God, You would be a most Loving Person – part 1

I think one of the reasons that our love will grow cold as time moves on is because our sinful anger will grow hotter, IF, we, I, do not resolve to fight the cause of our anger: Distrust of God in the face of growing injustice. I want to make a few posts on this subject over the next couple weeks so stay tuned. But for today, I grabbed this from a post on Justin Taylor’s blog for our mutual benefit:

Frederick Buechner:

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.

The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself.

The skeleton at the feast is you.

―Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 2.

Have Some Good Anger Today!

I am grateful for the work that Ed Welch and others at CCEF has put into the subject of anger. Their counsel is quite possibly the best teaching on this difficult but real emotion that is both a godly reflection of a Holy God, and ungodly in its self-righteousness. May the Lord help you today, and all your days to have some good anger.

There are literally hundreds of passages that show God filled with good anger at sin, the ungodly, those who slander his name, and those who reject his Son. But there are hundreds more that show God is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and mercy. Here is a text that is helpful for us – Ephesians 4:25-32:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Keep in mind that the general admonition is “put off the old self/nature” (v. 22). That is, stop acting out what you are not. Put on the new and start acting out what you are. When you are born again you are given a new nature, you become a new creature and Paul says here that your newness will show itself in the way you experience anger.

Verse 26 makes at least two assertions about anger:
1) There is a time to get angry
2) The time to stay angry is short-lived

Paul is saying that there are good grounds for getting angry but no grounds for holding grudges.
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger” means,
“Let the day of your anger be the day of your reconciliation”.
And if reconciliation is impossible, even so, do not stroke your wound, or cherish revenge or hold a grudge for Satan seeks a foothold into your heart, and if he finds it, he will enter and ruin your life with all kinds of prideful bitterness.

Let’s take these two points one at a time:
1) There is a time to get angry!
Clearly, not all anger is sinful for man. Good Anger is:
A. aimed at sin.
What kind of sin is in the immediate context? Deception, lying, deceitful desires of the flesh.
B. rises slowly.
James 1:19-20 says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” We are to be slow to anger because the anger which rises quickly is very likely to be sinful anger which will not accomplish God’s righteousness. But if we are slow to anger, if we rule our spirit and consider the matter carefully, then our anger, if it comes, may be the very anger of God. That is, our anger may be owing to the fact that God’s character is dishonored. Good anger is based on God not just ourselves. Its target is sin against God, not just assaults on us.
C. tender.
Here is where we fail so often; our tenderness gets burned up in the zeal of our anger against the sin. A person does something wrong and we get angry, but there is no tenderness with the person’s hardness. We express our indignation for his sin, but we show no longing for his softening or reconciliation. Good anger should not only be directed against sin but also be mingled with tenderness for the transgressor.

2) The time to stay angry is short-lived.
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This does not mean that believers in Alaska may hold a grudge for six months while the sun is up or that husbands and wives should hurry up and get to the bottom of the argument before night falls. It means that anger, even legitimate, is a dangerous emotion and should not be nurtured into a grudge that holds on and on. Anger is the moral equivalent of biological adrenaline. It is good and healthy to experience periodic secretions of adrenaline in reaction to dangerous, hostile situations. But a steady flow would damage the physical body. As with anger, not only does it take its toll on the physical body, it has also damaged many lives because it was not put away, but nurtured again and again into a life-destroying grudge.

WARNING!! According to verse 27 this is what Satan is watching for — the extended gap, the opening, the opportunity to destroy. If there is any way that Satan can assist you to hold a grudge, to keep you in a prideful persistent mode of anger he will do it.

What should you do then? Repent of not being more angry at sin against God. Repent of being angry of things that are not sinful, yes – dumb, but not necessarily willful sin against you. Repent of making yourself the highest reason for addressing wrongs. Repent of holding on too long to wounds and not handing over the trespass to God – for him to settle the score with your assailant. Repent over the lack of gentleness in your right to be angry at real offenses.

What else? Close the door on the Devil’s foot until he flees. Call out to Christ, the Doorkeeper to rescue you from yourself. He’ll gladly forgive and sit down with you in your home and comfort your broken spirit. Now, “Be Angry” – it’s a command!