St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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The Commandment: You shall not murder.

How should we live rightly with our neighbor? First, it is clear from the commandment that we are not to be angry at our neighbor, for anger comes not from faith and the fear of God but from the dark places of the heart. Anger is uncontrolled and driven my emotion, without reason or godliness, and seeks to hurt or destroy the neighbor. We read many examples in the Scripture of the devilish desire of anger and how many prophets and apostles were murdered because of anger.

Yet it is also clear that those with a divine authority over others may employ the use of anger to punish, reprove or correct, or even kill when sinful persons break the commandments. Governments, for example, have the God-given authority to punish the wicked and evildoers, up to and including death. Parents have the authority to punish their children who are disobedient, though certainly not to the same degree as police or judges or he who pulls the switch. Likewise, pastors have the authority to reprove and correct the sinner through preaching the Law, revealing sin, withholding the Sacrament, and the ultimate and rare use of excommunication for the openly impenitent.

But no one has the right to be angry or harm his neighbor in body or spirit out of jealousy, emotional imbalance, revenge, difference of opinion, or ignorance. Yet these are the things that drive our anger and so often lead to destroying the neighbor rather than forgiving, uplifting, or protecting. It was anger and hate which led to the death of Christ Jesus, to Judas’ betrayal, to the Pharisees’ plotting and scheming to murder the Lord of Life. Is anger any different today, and does it seek anything less than the total destruction of the neighbor today? No, anger’s cause remains the same, so anger’s desire also remains the same. Sin doesn’t change.

Even believers can fall for the trap of the devil to let envy or disagreement lead to unfettered anger, hate, and violence. An angry person is more interested in destroying the neighbor, and will break every commandment to do it, rather than uplifting, protecting, or loving the neighbor. This is sin, evil, and unless there be honest, humble repentance, will lead to death.

Of course, there is a practical reason to repent of anger and malice. God did not design our bodies to store or exhibit anger. Anger is bad on the heart, the mind, and the soul. Angry people suffer physically and the stress that anger creates and thrives on destroys the bowels. Thus, for the sake of the neighbor, and for the sake of our own sanity and veins, we should repent of anger, seek to love and forgive our neighbor in our hearts, and learn to abide in Christ and His Word, obey our authorities, and leave anger out where it belongs…with the devil.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me of my sin of anger and hate and teach me to love my neighbor as You have loved me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.