“He made me angry, so I punched him!” This is a phrase that we often times try to find if we can justify or not. We may ask, “Ok, what did he do?” Then the answer will usually let us know if the punching was justified. “He was annoying me and making weird sounds!” Ok, That is not a justifiable answer. “He was calling me names!” Maybe, but still depends on what kind of names. “He punched me!” Alright then, that is totally justifiable, right? You don’t want to cause the fight, but that kid punched him, so he punched the other kid back. Case closed, we’re done.
Anger, and the out-lash afterwards to us often times can seem justifiable if the problem is big enough. But to God that is actually not the case at all. First lets look at the out-lash of anger.
Matthew 5:38-39 talks of how we need to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us. Even after Jesus said that we shouldn’t be trying to get even with people, we still live with the motto of “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” We still live with the mindset that I shouldn’t punch him UNLESS he punches me first. In reality, if we want to be pleasing to God we have to be willing to say “I shouldn’t punch him EVEN IF he punches me.” This also applies in words. There is constructive criticism, and then there is painful attacks. We may be telling someone what they did was wrong, but in the completely wrong manner! Our instruction to people needs to be in love, and not in getting back at someone, or hurting them. But often times, like in this instance that Jesus is giving us an example of, if someone is trying to hurt you, the best way to react is to just turn the other cheek to them and not say a word.
But what of anger in general? Should we be angry at people and hate them for what they have done even though we are not acting on it? By no means. Verse 22 of this chapter shows us that we should not have anger toward our brothers and sisters, or we will be guilty. And verse 44 says that we should love our enemies and pray for them! In other words, if someone wrongs us and goes against us, rather than being angry at them and hating them we should feel sorry for them and try to help. Realize that while they might be hurting you physically and emotionally, their soul is in a state that they are going down a path toward eternal destruction. Your pain is like a blink of an eye in comparison to the pain that they will feel if they continue on this path. This is a call from Jesus trying to encourage us to think about the people that hurt us rather than ourselves! Try to help them out and see what their problem is. Often times there is a deeper problem with that person that you cannot quite see on the surface. Love your enemies, don’t be angry toward your brothers, and turn the other cheek.
- Adam M. Warnes