We’re studying the Sermon on the Mount at Bible Study these days, and the verses on murder we looked at two weeks ago have stuck a little longer than usual. Here’s what Jesus said (v. 21-26):
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Now, I usually think of myself as someone who doesn’t get angry often or easily, but that’s only as long as inanimate objects do what I want them to. That includes cars, and by implication the person steering it. We’ve been doing a bit of driving lately, mostly back and forth to Luzern, and I think I’m getting better, but I still excoriate drivers that don’t drive according to my standards. I still treat them with contempt and disdain, and then end up having to apologize to Janet wo patiently endures because she knows I know she disapproves.
And with good reason, according to the above passage. Although Jesus talks about being angry at a brother or sister, I don’t think he’s condoning anger at someone who isn’t, and even if he was, I’d have no way of knowing if the driver was a brother or not. Besides, as Janet pointed out, even if the driver did do something stupid, the disdain in my voice will teach those in the car with me that I heap scorn and contempt on those who fail. It is not enough to say I want my children to be able to talk to me about everything, nor is it enough to honestly desire that and be ready to gently and lovingly answer their questions. If I teach them by yelling at cars that I have no patience for incompetence or failure, I will teach them to be afraid of talking to me whenever they have been (or believe themselves to have been) incompetent or failures.
I’m late, but I’m glad I’m learning this now, and I hope I can get it under control before Joseph understands what I’m doing.