Anger • Devotion 4

Creating Peaceful Relationships with Others and God
Emilou Irwin

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” Matthew 5:21-26

Take a moment to think about the most important relationships in your life? What does that look like? It most likely looks very peaceful with few conflicts, right? What keeps it from falling apart? It probably is not anger, talking about them behind their back, or a conflict that you would not let go of holding it together. I guess it is peace and forgiveness.

It is good to break this down starting with anger. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses anger in its largest form through murder. Matthew 5:21-22 says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Yet, we also see Jesus address it in its simplest form - thoughts of anger. If we read that again, we see that the punishment is the “hell of fire.” This is the opposite of a peaceful relationship with God, it is filled with torment and unrest. So the first step towards maintaining peaceful relationships is to guard our hearts against evil thoughts and desires.

Now we need to guard more than just our hearts to create peaceful relationships, we also need to guard our speech. Guarding our speech means more than just avoiding using profanity or the Lord’s name in vain, it also means using our words to reconcile with our brothers and sisters in Christ in a manner that is God-honoring. Jesus describes it through a brief scene in which someone leaves their offering to go and be reconciled with his brother before entering the presence of God. In Matthew 5:23-24, we find this story, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

There is one more important thing that allows us to maintain a peaceful relationship, it is resolving conflicts quickly. Now you would not let an open wound continue to be filled with dirt and bleed for hours, the same concept applies here. When a conflict arises it creates a new kind of wound and the longer we leave it exposed to the elements the higher the chance it gets infected. This infection could lead to needing outside help to heal or even having to remove the area affected by the wound. Jesus explains this in a more formal illustration in Matthew 5:25-26. It says, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” It makes it clear that the quicker an issue is dealt with, the less damage that will be done.

Maintaining peaceful relationships takes intentionality. So to maintain peaceful relationships we need to guard our hearts, guard our speech, and resolve our conflicts quickly. In maintaining peaceful relationships in our earthly walk, we are keeping peace in our heavenly walk. This is because our discords with each other get in the way and hinder our relationship with God. Now as you go throughout your day, take a moment to resolve any conflicts that you have been putting off taking care of, guard your heart, and guard your speech.

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