Have you ever met an angry wise person? Why can’t an angry person be wise? I am writing a series of posts about being wise according to Jesus’s first sermon. In the last post, I explained how a wise person is salt and light in the world. This post will look at the second precept of a wise person; a wise person seeks peace and reconciliation. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus tells us to not murder or be angry and insult a fellow Christian.
Matthew 5:21-22 states, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22But 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.”
Liable to judgment means to be accountable or answerable to a judge or court of law. Jesus sees murder and anger as the same. Why? Would you agree a murderer does not value the person they kill? Likewise, an angry person does not value the person they are angry at.
But God got angry.
What is the difference between our sinful anger and God’s righteous anger? God is perfect and has no sin.
Self-centered pride motivates our anger when things don’t go our way. God is slow to anger, which is motivated by love and righteousness. He wants us to obey and not sin by disobeying His righteous laws or worshiping idols. Psalm 86:15 states, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” King Solomon wrote about being slow to anger in Proverbs.
Proverbs 14:29 – Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Proverbs 15:18 – A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Our sinful anger fuels resentment and hatred, which causes us to seek revenge and punish those who did us wrong. God’s love fuels discipline when we disobey. His discipline is for our good that we may be righteous. Hebrews 12:6 states, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:11 states, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Obey and Pursue Peace
To live in peace with others looks different for each person, but it always involves forgiving offenses. You may not feel like forgiving, but it is an act of obedience to God. Forgiving restores peace by removing resentment and offenses in the heart. If you don’t have peace in your heart, then you won’t be at peace with others. In my post called The Mystery of Wisdom – Part 5, I explain why it is wise to obey God. The Bible says the following about God’s instructions to seek peace. Also, read the peace issues page in my book to learn more.
Romans 12:17-18 states, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Sometimes, it is not possible to live in peace, but we must not repay evil for evil by being offensive in return. 1 Peter 3:11 also says, “Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” Striving for peace is a sign of holiness. Hebrews 12:14 states, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
We can live in peace with those around us by honoring them. 2 Corinthians 13:11 states, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” A wise person seeks to restore peace in their relationships as they live in peace. When we obey this principle, then the love and peace of God will be with us.
We can live in peace by letting the peace of God rule our hearts. When peace rules our hearts, then anger will not. One way to maintain peace is to be thankful. Colossians 3:15 states, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” When we sow peace in our relationships by being thankful and doing what is right, then we will harvest righteousness. James 3:18 states, “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Also, James 1:20 says, “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Those who pursue peace seek reconciliation.
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). We will inevitably offend a brother or sister or be offended. When that happens, a wise person seeks reconciliation through apologizing and forgiving.
Matthew 5:23-24 states, “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.” Remember, sin separates us from God, so we need to seek His forgiveness so we can come before God and offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Isaiah 59:2 states, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
Who do you need to forgive so you feel peace in your heart?
Who do you need to go and be reconciled with whom you offended?
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