Jesus is not interested in helping you manage your anger.
Jesus is aiming much higher and diving much deeper.
He doesn’t want you to learn to control your temper. He is going to get you to a place where there is no temper left to control.
His way is not anger management. It is about having no anger left to manage.
“Unless your righteousness surpasses the righteousness that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This is a teaching not about self control, but about becoming the kind of self who doesn’t need to be controlled.
The Pharisee is an ancient example of the kind of person we all know, and maybe know best when we look in the mirror.
The Pharisee is the person who has the willpower to not do bad things no matter how they feel inside. Cut a Pharisee off in traffic and they wont give you the finger. Check the criminal record of a Pharisee and you might find a parking ticket at best. Look at the Pharisees Instagram account and you’ll see some bible verses and a smiling wife. Their Google filter is set for the safest setting. It will all look fine.
But hang around a Pharisee for awhile and it soon wont feel so fine. There is something bubbling beneath the surface. It might come out as a prayer request for someone who is having an affair but you swear the Pharisee is more gleeful than concerned about the situation; maybe even envious.
Behind their pious veneer is a heart which would have an affair if they could get away with it – but they are stuck being a Christian. The discerning can, when in the presence of a Pharisee, begin to notice envy, contempt, lust, fear, and anger all bubbling beneath the surface.
It is the terrible fate of the Pharisee to have a life where they can never do what their heart truly desires to do. They are kept from fulfilling the desires of their heart by the constraints of their religion.
“If I wasn’t a Christian I’d head over there and shut him up for good.”
“If I wasn’t a (married) Christian I’d be able to just leave her and no one would blame me.”
“If I wasn’t a (tithing) Christian I’d be able to afford a nicer car too.”
Clearly, not all the Pharisees are dead.
It is a terrible to have the heart of a sinner stuck in the body of a saint, but this is not your fate. The Kingdom of Heaven is, at least in part, the state of mind and heart where your desires align with the desires of King Jesus and you can act on them freely. What you actually want is so good and life giving you are free to do whatever you want.
Your very heart has been transformed. This is what it means to “surpass the righteousness of the Pharisee.”
Jesus is not offering a way to control your sinful heart. He is going to give you a new heart. He is offering a self which doesn’t have to be controlled. It can be let off the leash. It can be trusted because if it gets what it’s heart desires no one gets hurt and everyone is blessed.
Jesus isn’t interested in helping you manage your anger.
He wants to take you to a place where there is no anger left to manage.