25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
So as we bring to a close the section on anger, we must again remember the principle (spirit of the law) is what Jesus is addressing not the details (letter). There is a progression to our issue of anger that is important to pick up on. This week we look at the urgency of dealing with the internal anger that we have. As Boice points out, there are four steps to the reconciliation of our anger.
The first is to admit that we have anger. If we don’t understand the significance of anger, there is no way we will respond in the manner God has prescribed. 1 John 3:15 says “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Those are maxims that have teeth. If we have established that we are angry, and we fully understand Jesus position on anger is equivalent to murder, we must deal with the issue. Secondly, there must corrective action taken for the injustice, there must be restitution. This is where as we previously mentioned, we go to the individual, if we think they have anything against us. Third, the urgency of this restitution is where we land this week. The significance is revealed in many other ways throughout the scriptures. James states: “19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (Jas 1:19–20). Paul adds as he encourages the church in Ephesus “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Eph 4:26).
If we have fully understood that we are angry, and we’ve understood that we have to correct the injustice, and we know we must take action immediately the final step after we’ve taken action is to ask Jesus to change our heart. This is the step that is the bottom line to all of the issues that Jesus will submit in the Sermon on the Mount. Whether it is anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation or love for our enemies, we need our hearts to be changed. If it is merely an outward activity and the heart is not changed, we are just white washed tombs. We’ve already understood it is what comes out of the heart that defiles us and only God has the paygrade to change our hearts. The Psalmist wrote “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Ps 66:18) We must come to Him in humility asking Him to soften and change our heart of stone to a heart of flesh…that is in part what it means to be poor in spirit or to mourn, or to hunger and thirst for righteousness, etc.