What makes a person hate someone so much that they want to take their life? Take for example: More Christians have been martyred in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined. About 170,000 Christians are martyred for their faith each year (over 400 per day). Currently over 200 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide. Christians are persecuted in 131 of the world's 193 countries. North Korea: in 2014 it continues to be the worst country in the world for persecution and the list goes on! As one person said “Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured.” What makes a person so angry that it fills their heart with murder? Especially towards someone who’s desire to see….
- People have clean water
- Cloths on their backs
- The ability to think and read
- The shelter of a home
- The care and well-being of others
- The care and concern for one’s soul
The answer to that question is one thing! They hate God and anyone who follows after Him. Do we not see this is in this passage of scripture? The religious men didn't just disagree with Jesus; they hated him from a pure evil heart of rage. Think about it for a moment! Not once did Jesus display any form of hatred or hostility towards these men. Not once did Jesus try to trick people or to cause harm to another human being. Not once did Jesus say or do anything that would cause someone to be filled with rage. So the question is…Why were these men so enraged to kill him? I think it comes down to this truth! These men saw what they thought was good and righteous in their own eyes seemed to be worthless as it compared to Jesus. Remember everything Jesus did was perfect and the standard of God’s perfection. His perfection was revealed to their imperfection and that no matter what they thought of themselves it was a wrong view of who they truly were! Wretched sinners who desperately needed a perfect Saviour.
But isn’t that so? Our righteousness is considered as “filthy rages” Isaiah penned these words “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. The bible declares our righteousness as unclean! Isaiah 6:5 “So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." Job 14:4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” In Psalm 51:5 David said “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” Rom 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Paul wrote to Titus and said “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”Titus 3:3
The natural man hates the things of God! This is natural to those outside the camp of Jesus Christ the beautiful Shepherd. Maybe this is what made these men so angry and filled with hatred! See “hatred” by definition is “a deep and emotional extreme dislike that can be directed against individuals, entities, objects, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with feelings of anger and a disposition towards hostility.”These men hated so much the bible says they picked up stones to kill Him. BUT! Before we jump on the band wagon of disgust because of these men, we need to remember every single one of us in this chapel is CAPABLE of turning into one of these raging lunatics.
Think about! You’re having a good day, your happy things couldn’t be better, then all of a sudden someone or something disrupts your peaceful day of serenity. It could be triggered by……
- Someone’s behaviour
- A conversation
- A phone call
- A letter
All these can cause your attitude and behaviour to change drastically! Your temperature begins to rises along with your blood pressure. Your face begins change and you begin to use muscles that you thought you never had. There are veins in your head and neck that becoming more noticeable and your day that was once a happy time, is now become a time of irritation. It can happen that quickly and we can become no different than these men in this passage. As one writer said “if I were to rank a list of sins from the worst to the least destructive…the top two sins would be anger and deceit….not everyone is an alcoholic; not everyone steals, or swears, or commits adultery. But everyone struggles with anger. This is a universal problem and we need to be aware of this issue in our own lives.
Here is the flip side! Is anger always wrong? No …………as Paul said “be anger and sin not” Eph 4:26. It is an emotion that can be used in a constructive way, but also can be used in a destructive way as well. We can see that being used constructively in the life of Christ and the destructive use of anger in the life of Cain. So were these men right to have such anger….a hatred for wickedness that leads to killing someone? Keep in mind again that……..
- Jesus was no robber
- Jesus was no murderer
- Jesus was no rebel against the Law of the land
- His life was filled to show the love of God, who always went about doing what, was right and good.
As we read “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:38. There was no crime to be upset with, yet these men had such hatred and vengeance towards Jesus. As John wrote a few chapters later they hated Him “without cause". It’s as J.C Ryle said “unconverted men would kill God himself if they could only get at Him.” The world and these men hate to see anything of God’s image! Remember Cain and why he killed his brother?1 John 3:11-12 “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous.” They hated Jesus because His righteousness reflected the unrighteousness of these men who thought they were a perfect example of righteousness. If these men were righteous in their right to angry with Jesus we need to consider 3 things
RIGHTEOUS ANGER REACTS AGAINST ACTUAL SIN
We must look at sin first as a violation against God, not us! David summarized this truth when he said “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.” Psalm 51:3-4. Righteous anger arises from an accurate perception of true evil of sin as defined biblically as a violation against God. Jesus did nothing wrong as He said “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" (v32) Healing the sick, and all manner of diseases; cleansing lepers, giving sight to the blind, causing the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. This were not only works of power, but of mercy and goodness; and therefore are called good works, as well as they were great and miraculous ones. The unbelieving Jews at Jerusalem were neither moved by our Lord's miracles nor by His preaching. They were determined not to receive Him as their Messiah "they took up stones to stone Him." See righteous anger does not result from merely being inconvenienced or from a violation of personal preference….and especially human tradition. It responds to sin accurately according to God’s word. It’s too easy to fly off the handle….especially when we think someone has wronged us personally! Don’t get me wrong, it hurt when someone sins against us….but remember it hurt God first before it hurt you.
RIGHTEOUS ANGER FOCUSES ON GOD AND HIS KINGDOM, RIGHTS AND CONCERNS, NOT ON MY KINGDOM, RIGHTS AND CONCERNS?
According to the scriptures righteous anger is God centered, not self centered or motivated to make me come out on top in an argument. My first response should always be concerned with the Kingdom of God and does it offend a holy God. It focuses on how people offend God and His name. Remember as James said “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20. For example when Jesus cleared out the temple merchants He did this because what they were doing was a violation against God. Just as here the traditions of men and their kingdom were more important than God and His kingdom. These men only cared about themselves and their own agenda….as long as everyone agreed with them and followed after them, they were ok! But Jesus and his unorthodox Christianity threw these men into frenzy of rage and hate. All because Jesus went against everything they wanted the people to believe. To go against them was too personally attack them and their character….and sadly these men were more concerned of saving face then the glory of God being defended. Wolves and robbers who were trying to pull the wool over the sheep’s eyes. What they thought was righteous was nothing more than selfish gain and an obsession for power to manipulate.
RIGHTEOUS ANGER IS ACCOMPANIED IN A GODLY MANNER?
All true anger must be handled with self-control. It must be restrained and controlled! Is that possible? Solomon said “Good sense makes one slow to anger,” Prov 19:11. The question you need to ask yourself is, when you have been placed into a situation of conflict….did you chose to speak comely when dealing with a situation properly? Or did you fly off the handle screaming, throwing things and so on? Remember what Paul said “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Rom 6:12. As one writer said “it keeps it head without cursing, screaming, raging, or flying off the handle. Nor does it spiral downwards in self-pity or despair. It does not ignore people, snub people, or withdraw from people.” Take the situation…….between David, Jonathan for example in 1 Samuel 20, when his own father tried to kill him because he believed what was right and the best for his people. Saul was filled with selfish pride and ignorance and his rage against David was so powerful “Then Saul's anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? (v30). Jonathan on the other hand handled this situation is a godly manner by standing his road firmly in the truth of God’s plans and promises. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, "Why should he be killed? What has he done?" (v32). This only enraged his father’s anger more and Saul lost control of the situation by throwing a spear at his son “Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.”(v33). This is where we see Jonathan continuing to handle this situation with righteous anger, even though he almost lost his life. “So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully.” (v34)
So who as in the right and who was in the wrong according to John’s letter? If these men didn't meet the criteria of righteous anger then who is in the wrong Jesus or them? The same rule can be applied to you and me when we think someone has wronged us and we think we are entitled to have righteous anger. Before we claim righteous anger as a healthy anger……..remember these three questions…..Is there a sin to angry with? Is this sin against God or me? Can I handle this situation in a godly manner? The answer to those questions will determine whether or not I was just in my anger. Remember as Solomon said “a gentle answer turns away wrath” Prov 15:1. Don’t be like the fool who has foot and mouth syndrome like this man…..“…..who hates to be slapped on the back, once packs his coat with TNT and waited for the man who always slaps his back? His brilliant idea is that…..when he hits me he said “I will get him, I’ll blow him up.” Hate kills both the person who you hate, but also yourself as well. Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. We need to swift to listen….slow to answer and slow to wrath! James knows what he’s talking about! Because he knows this is a universal problem.