Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.Matthew 5:21-26
We live in an angry world.
The typical, and almost expected, reaction to anything someone doesn’t like is anger.
This passage deals with much more than just murder. Jesus teaches that the problem is much greater than just the violent act of committing murder. The motivation behind the action is the root of the sin, and that motivation is sin as well.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, there may be times where “righteous indignation” should be shown toward wickedness (much like Jesus when He purged the Temple of the money changers). But anger should not be a common part of our lives.
Jesus goes so far as to say that we need to be reconciled with our brother even before we attempt to worship God. John, in his first epistle, describes it this way:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?1st John 4:20
Our worship is not true worship if we are fighting with our brother because we can only love God by loving our brother.
Jesus closes this lesson with a warning that, if we do not resolve the sin of anger in ourselves, we will have to deal with the consequences. God will not intervene to “fix” the mess we have made when our own anger is the cause. That is under our control and it is our responsibility to, as much as is in us, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).