Anger • Devotion 5

The Heart of the Matter
Patrick Bicknell

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most revolutionary words spoken by the Son of God that confronts the heart of our entire lives. Almost everybody, both worldly and Christian, is fixated on the external things of life. Whether it is how big someone’s house is, or if it is how much you serve and spend time at a church, what you reflect externally in your life is what most people think matters. However, Jesus is more focused on the heart, and He makes it clear here when talking about anger.

I think anger is something that we all can relate to. Unless you are a hermit who lives on the tip of the North Pole, odds are you have had an interaction with a person and have dealt with anger. I know for myself when I deal with anger, I am more focused on not letting that anger out externally rather than fixing the emotions going on inside of me. It causes me to feel better about myself because I did not “sin” in my anger. However, that is not what we are called to do as Christ-followers. After Jesus brings up the commandment that we are not to murder people, He says, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement” (Matthew 5:22). Jesus tells His people that they know we are not to commit murder, but what is the emotion that causes that sin? Where does that sin start? It starts with the small things that people would consider insignificant. Obviously, Jesus is not saying anger and murder are the same thing. What He is trying to do is tell us of the significance of our hearts. Christ does not just want to be a part of our lives, He wants to have our whole lives. God wants to conform us into the image of Christ, and present us holy and blameless (Colossians 1:22). The reason this is so significant is that it directly affects our worship.

After talking about the severity of anger and the heart, Jesus goes on to talk about reconciliation and worship. He says, “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” (Matthew 5:23-24). Jesus is not talking about the small chance that you are at a physical altar with a physical gift, and maybe remember a problem you have with your brother. He is talking about our lives. We are a living sacrifice to God. We offer gifts of praise, prayer, singing, and worship to God daily and if we are to do this we need to make sure our heart is in the right place. How can we worship God and thank Him for forgiveness if we are not forgiving our brothers and sisters in Christ? If we are to worship God properly and be conformed to the image of Christ, we need to make sure our hearts are in the right place. For where our heart is, there also is our worship.

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