“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ (Matthew 5:38)
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:39)
And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (Matthew 5:40)
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41)
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (Matthew 5:43)
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)
that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:46)
And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:47)
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Without a doubt, one of the most challenging teachings of Jesus was radical enemy love.
It’s foundational to who Jesus was and is, and it’s foundational to the Christian faith.
Challenge: Talk – non-christian – friend.
Talking to a non-christian vs Christian friend and ask ‘What did Jesus teach? And then watch the second hand on your watch. Within 30 seconds, they will probably mention something about loving your enemies. And then go ask a Christian the same question, and you won’t need the second hand on your watch, you’ll need a sun dial. Prosperity, holiness, the end times, and if they ever get around to loving their enemies.
The non-Christian here is correct. If you are a Christ follower, enemy love is fundamental to who you’re called to be.
But what I don’t want to do is spend time on big, abstract theological concepts that have little to no practical application for our everyday lives. So instead of talking about what a Christian position should be on geo-political events of the 21st century, I want to talk about what enemy love looks like in our every day lives.
What does it mean to be a peacemaker?
And each week we’re gonna hit a different topic and this week we’re starting off with a bang and talking about anger.
Martin Luther King Jr. For me, I have always been familiar with of course the story and message of Martin Luther King Jr., But it wasn’t until a few years ago when I was actually able to go to Atlanta and see where so much of his life and all of that happened, that it really became real to me. And I’m always struck by how much courage it took for him in an unbelievably challenging set of circumstances to consistently be preaching an ethic of peace and nonviolence. That was really special.
Amazed that he got all his content from Jesus.
Malcom Little – Malcolm X.
And recently I’ve been learning, just a little bit about Malcom Little. More commonly referred to as Malcolm X. In a lot of ways, he was aligned with Martin Luther King Jr when it came to outcome. They were both human right activists fighting against racial prejudicial and segregation.
But they were also opponents in a lot of ways. Because while their ENDS were the same, the MEANS were completely different. It’s not saying anything new to say that Martin Luther King Jr’s method was more aligned with the way of Christ.
B/C for the christian, the method must be aligned with the mission.
God’s work must be done God’s way.
So that’s why a Christian can never :
- Hit your wife so she’ll come to church.
- Cheat on your taxes so you can give to the poor.
- Lie about a miracle so people would believe.
And I feel like I’ve known that for a long time, but if I’m honest, I’ve felt like anger might be the exception. I used to feel like anger was this neutral force that could either be used for good or for evil. Well that idea has recently been challenged in me by some pastors and writers I really admire.
Anger is the most fundamental problem in human life.
“While it’s true that anger is something attributed to God in the bible, the New Testament always talks about anger in people as something to get rid of.”
“Isn’t that a double standard?” Yes. Which is completely allowed when talking about us and God. Cause he’s God and we’re not.
‘Anger’ – ‘Orge’
First off, the word translated ‘anger’ in the Bible comes from this word ‘Orge’ which is also translated ‘Wrath’ when talking about God. So it’s fine for God to have Orge, but not humans.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
A quick word study. Anger in humans is address a whole whopping 4 times in the NT
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:8)
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)
because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:20)
There’s one more place that talks about human anger
“In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26)a
Stop. You have just read the only scripture in the entire NT that ALMOST looks like it’s saying it’s ok to be angry. Many Christian teachers will tell you that what this scripture means is that it’s GOOD to be angry, just use your anger to motivate you to do good. I’ve actually taught that. And it sounds good, but that’s not what Paul is saying here.
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (Ephesians 4:26)b
and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:27)
Here’s what to do when you’re angry: Get rid of it. Don’t let it linger. Certainly not into the next day. Why? B/C you don’t want to give the devil an inroad into your life.
Anger presents itself as a temptation. But it’s not until you make peace with it, begin to cooperate with it, that it becomes sin.
Example: Lust @ Gym Example of seeing someone in the gym that is sexually attractive. That’s not “sin”, but it is a choice. It’s a choice to linger there and fester there and make your home there. Or just recognize the temptation, and move on.
Think about MLKJ. If anyone must have been tempted to be angry it was him, but look at what he said.
“You must not harbor anger. You must be willing to suffer the anger of the opponent, and yet not return anger. We must love our enemies.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Skip down – few verses :
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31)
“Get rid of ALL anger.” – Paul
Same word: Orge. Get rid of all of it.
ALL. The greek word here ‘Pas’ means every one of every kind.
So the idea that anger is something that Christians are to rid themselves of is actually very misunderstood.
In fact, there’s lots of Christian circles where anger is CELEBRATED as a Godly trait. “If you can show how angry you are about how wicked all those awful people are, that proves how holy YOU are.”
Preachers. You know who is more guilty of this than anybody else?? Preachers. Especially preachers who get interviewed on the news.
Did you know that model Christian life is described in the fruits of the spirit?
Let’s list the fruits of the spirit as you think about the most intense, angry preacher you can think of. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
The disciple of Jesus must be entirely innocent of anger, because anger is an offense against both God and our neighbor. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Bible commentaries / paraphrases. – The Message.
Even in popular bible commentaries and paraphrases. Even the message bible paraphrase from Eugene Peterson, a hero of mine. For those of you who don’t know a paraphrase is not a translation of the Bible, but it’s biblical concepts put into the words of the author, so we can enjoy them and read them, but we don’t put them on the same level as actual scripture.
The Message by Eugene Peterson – Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. (Ephesians 4:26–27)
Close. But “Go ahead and be angry” is a mistake.
I think the reason a lot of people are scared of the idea of letting go of all anger is because they think that anger is the most effective way to motivate yourself to bring about change. And that’s actually not true.
Which really goes against twitter. And facebook. You go on there and EVERYBODY is ANGRY about their position. And a lot of the positions and causes are right and good, and godly.
But there’s this broken way of thinking that says ‘The more angry you are, the holier you are.’ And that’s not true.
Bad – soul. Besides the fact that being angry all the time is just downright bad for your soul. Think of all the people who are on facebook all day super angry. That’s not a healthy way to live.
WHY? – Why is anger something we’re always supposed to be ridding ourselves of?
Anger is the emotion of passing Judgement.
It’s impossible to be angry without passing judgement. God is the judge. He’s in charge of the judging department so he’s in charge of the anger department.
Because anger is the emotion of passing judgement, it’s condemned in anyone other than God.
And when we pass judgement, we sit in the seat reserved for God alone. God: “Thanks, but I don’t need your help.” “Your anger is not helping my objectives.” “Stay out of my chair.” – This is the only time God is crochety old man, “Don’t sit in my chair.”
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1)
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)
Probably the most repeated verse in the sermon on the mount. ‘Don’t judge me!!!’
Now it’s important to understand that the Bible talks about different KINDS of judgements. There’s a certain kind of judging that we all do all the time and we have to.
Let’s call it making judgement calls. Judging what we believe is right and wrong, judging what’s the best use of our time, and the Bible actually encourages us to think critically about the way we see the world.
For example, later in the sermon on the mount he tells us to watch out for false prophets and then he shows us how to make a judgement call on who’s a good prophet and who’s a false prophet.
But there’s a different kind of judgement that’s critical and self–elevating. It’s putting ourself in the seat of God, maximizing the sin of others while minimizing our own sin. Jesus says how you judge others is ultimately how you will be judged.
This is a pattern in the NT, if you think of the Lords prayer ‘Forgive us AS WE forgive those who sin against us.
Science – 3 ways people deal w/ Anger:
1. Suppression – Makes it worse. For you and others.
Use all your willpower to pack it all down. “How dare you say that to me!!!” – But instead of saying something, you push it down.
Seems like it works. At least in the short term.
Psychologists tell us that ultimately it flattens out all emotions. Over time you become withdrawn and emotionally unavailable. And your relationships suffer b/c people don’t feel like they have access to the deepest parts of you.
“Aha! Thank you for vindicating MY approach!!! I…”
2. Venting – Makes it worse. For you and others.
Punch a wall. – Or go scream at the person who wronged you. Or possibly worse, go verbally destroy them to your friends. And again, it works in the short term.
But psychologists tell us that it creates what they call a psychological payoff where you train yourself that that feels good, or that’s how you connect with people or whatever and you become easier and easier to offend. It’s like an addiction. And with some time, your relationships suffer because you’re emotionally unstable.
3. Reframing – The way of Jesus (and science)
Seeing (and feeling) a situation in a new way
We all do this: How often to you learn something about the situation and all of a sudden, the anger melts away. Or maybe you’re mad and then you REMEMBER something about them or yourself and the anger melts away.
Me : Coffee Shop : Friend I remember years ago I saw a friend at a coffee shop and I went over there in my David Eiffert way and I was like “Hey man!!! How you doing?! Can you believe this weather? Is this the best coffee shop in the world?!” – And they responded and said ‘Honestly David, can you just give me some time alone’ ‘Oh my gosh, of course, sorry.’ – But in reality I was thinking ‘What the heck is their problem?!’ – Until later I saw on instagram that it had been 1 year since a close family member had died. And so they were just processing that. And instantly when I saw that, I reframed the situation.
Or maybe if it’s someone you don’t know, but someone who was rude or hurt you or said something insensitive and you can reframe by asking questions like “I wonder what kind of childhood they had that made them think that’s ok.” “I wonder what they’re going through that would cause them to act like that.”
Me : driving – “Hope everything’s ok.” This is a true story, but as I’ve grown in this sometimes when people are driving 1000 miles and hour, and swerving through traffic, one of hand I’m like “Sheesh, chill out man” but I’m growing in my ability to think “I don’t know what’s going on in their world right now, but I hope everything’s ok.”
(Prepare – Communion)
All Christian ethics are rooted in one thing.
All Christian ethics are rooted in one thing. So if you’re wondering “How should I treat my mom? How should I treat my boss? How should I treat people who disagree with me? How should I treat people who have wounded me? How should I treat my enemy?” – The answer to all those questions is rooted in the same principle.
God — Us — Others
How : treat : boss / spouse / coworker / friend / enemy :
“How has God treated me?” What’s repeated over and over in the NT when deciding how to treat anybody else – boss, spouse, coworker, friend, enemy, is this “How has God treated me?”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11)
This repeated on lots of other topics.
- Forgive as you have been forgiven
- Show mercy as you have been shown mercy
- Show compassion as you have been shown compassion
Compassion / Kindness / generosity / patience – On and on and on.
This addresses not just how I treat another person, but how I feel towards another person. What your thought life is towards another person. – Is the way I’m thinking about that person remotely similar to how God thinks about me?
What’s amazing about this reframe is it replaces anger with love, and love is an infinitely better motivator than anger.
Go out and change the world, but don’t do it because you’re ticked off. Do it because you love.
As – pass
What is the group of people you get the most angry with? (Pass)
(Invitation) / (Pray)
Remember death Proclaim resurrection Await return
(Prayer for the Poor)