The phrase “(to) raise the bar,” or “raising the bar,” is an expression used to convey the idea of gradually setting the accepted minimum standards higher in order to achieve an objective or level of excellence.
This term came into common usage through the tracks and field sports event of high jumping and pole vaulting.
Ø In these events, the athletes run and jump, to propel themselves over the obstacles (the bar).
Ø In each subsequent round of competition, the bar is raised, making the target more challenging.
The athlete who displays the greatest stamina and successfully crosses the highest bar wins the event.
Jesus is an amazing “Athlete” who raises the bar of Christian living.
>> He invites all His followers to also follow Him in living a “higher” standard of life.
The Gospel, shows the manner in which Jesus “raises the bar” of certain areas of Christian living…
Today He deals with the important dimension of anger.
Killing is considered to be a serious evil in every society and every religion.
Killing in its basic form is usually considered only in the sense of the physical body.
But the Lord today “raises” the bar” in the understanding of killing…
“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill’; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’.
>> But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment….” (Mt 5: 21)
The Lord expands the understanding of killing beyond the physical body…
A person engages in killing… if, by anger…
…the social standing of the other person is upset
…the emotional state of the other person is wounded
…the spiritual balance of the other person is disturbed
We could understand anger from various perspectives…
1. Anger as Quick temper
Prov 15:18 says, “An ill-tempered man stirs up strife…”
It is said that speak when one is angry, one makes the best speech that would be regretted much!
Quick temper sometimes…
…. forms part of our temperament
… comes even unknowingly
… is instigated by other’s actions
Yet, in all this, one ought to…
… rise quickly from remaining in the state of anger.
… become conscious of the occasions which can excite anger
… see that the temper is not fed or nurtured or intensified
2. Anger which leads to stubbornness
Eph 4:26: “…. do not let the sun to set on your anger”
Sometimes, the anger within is allowed to grow so much…
…that we get habituated to getting angry for even tiny and trivial matters
…that we lose our peace of mind, and sometimes even become indifferent
…that we choose not to budge from our position or viewpoint and remain adamant
Yet, we need to make efforts…
… to try to overcome our ego and seek to make amends with the person
… to lower oneself in humility (even if we are right) and ease the situation of annoyance
Anger needs to be sanctified…
… channelized in the proper way!
One may feel a ‘just’ anger at….
… the immense corruption in the world and even in religious circles
… the forces of evil that seem to root away even faint traces of hope
… the indifferent and unchanging attitudes and temperaments of people which is sickening.
Yet… even these ought to get channelized properly
…even these ought to be routed in the right manner
Yes… even our just anger needs to be sanctified and purified in the burning furnace of God’s Love.
Anger is indeed…
… a major tendency that is a cause of distress for many of us.
… a prime inclination that is a root of sin for many of us.
Let this season of Lent be a time of making genuine, practical and realistic efforts in the fight to sanctify and purify our anger.
Yes, the Lord is “raising the bar” higher… of holiness, of sanctity, of perfection.
… it is painstaking
… it requires deeper attempts
… it requires committed determination!
But the Lord assures His grace to help us and His Love to encourage us!
God Bless! Live Jesus!