To be angry with our brother without a sufficient cause—which would be their offending God or His representative—would be the same as breaking the ‘first and foremost commandment,’ to love God and His children—our brothers—with all our heart and soul.
Now sometimes we might become angry with our brothers or sisters if they do something that hurts them spiritually. This is not the same, as this is “with cause.” If we become angry out of love for our brother or sister, this is not the same as saying “you fool” to them.
“Raca” is a Hebrew word indicating contempt for someone. Jesus condemns this as something the Sanhedrin—referring to the Jewish council—can address.
Jesus is clarifying that lashing out at someone with a statement of ridicule - such as "you fool" - reflects an issue we have deep within. This indicates a level of jealousy and hatred that rots within us. This is why Jesus said:
"But anyone who says, ‘You fool! Will be in danger of the fire of hell."This bears witness to the rotten state of our own consciousness. "the fire of hell" is thought of a physical place - like a cave with lots of fire and people chained to the walls.
Where is Hell?
But the real place of "hell" is our consciousness. Having a consciousness of hatred and envy is in itself hell. And this consciousness itself causes a burning sensation.
What is that burning sensation? We are speaking of the burning sensation of anger and the burning sensation of lust. These two sensations are compared to burning because if we have ever watched a fire, we know that a fire simply consumes everything around it.
Next time you watch a fire look closely at how it consumes its fuel. The flames lap up around the fuel and torches it with fire. But it is not as if the flames are satisfied with what they consume. They remain unsatisfied. They always need more fuel to consume.
This is the nature of lust and anger. Actually lust leads to anger. When we want something (lust) and we do not get what we want, we become angry.
Note that Jesus says:
"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother without cause will be subject to judgment."Becoming angry "without cause" relates directly to lust, and envy. Being envious means being jealous of someone else because they have what we want.
Being envious is the epitome of hell. This consciousness is in itself evil, and it is our reason for being here in the physical world, away from the Supreme Being.
We are here, away from God, because we became envious of Him. Yes, we wanted to have what He has. He has the power, the beauty, the authority, the fame. And we want those things. So we were sent away, tossed out of the spiritual realm - symbolized by Adam and Eve being tossed out of the "Garden."
Where were we tossed? Consider this verse in Genesis:
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)The "garments of skin" symbolize these physical bodies we temporarily occupy. We are not these physical bodies. We are the spirit-persons within them. We are the drivers of these physical bodies.
This physical world is like a rehabilitation center. Here we deal with the consequences of our envy, lust and anger. A person who has anger in their heart will certainly be faced with the anger of others — sometimes physically and sometimes mentally - depending upon our activities.
Activities of greed are met with more greed. A person who becomes greedy will certainly be faced with the results of that mindset and the actions that come from it.
Anger that stems from unsatisfied greed - when we lash out at others - will certainly result in the same consequences - suffering - as a result. This is the design of the physical world as authorized by the Supreme Being.
Often people ask if God is so good, how come there is so much suffering in the world?
The suffering of the world is not the result of God’s actions or decisions. The design of the world is simply set up to teach us and guide us. As a result of that design, we “reap what we sow.” This means that the actions we take now will lead to particular results either here and now, or in the future.
We must ask ourselves logically, why a person would be born into a suffering situation like Darfur? Why are these kids suffering from birth? Did God just decide to punish these people for no reason?
Certainly not. As we will see later, Jesus also addresses this issue. These souls are being punished for the acts they committed in previous lifetimes. Today we experience the hell we caused to others in the past. It is a perfect system. It is a teaching system.
Depending upon the act and the situation, sometimes we receive our hellish punishment in this lifetime, immediately. Prison or war are good examples of punishment for decisions made during the same lifetime. For those who are angry and hostile toward others, that anger and hostility may lead to a backlash of a fight or even escalate into a war. This is the immediate “hell” for these activities.
The world is also designed for love. Caring for others leads to a completely different result as well. When we care for others, this will result in being cared for - if not by others then by God. This too is the design of this world: A perfect world designed by God to teach each and every one of us our own set of lessons, simultaneously.
We might wonder why love is such an important part of Jesus’ teachings, and such a integral part of the commandments that Moses revealed. What is it about love that is so important to God?
While we often hear vague sayings such as “God is love.” Does this have any meaning?
The real point is that God is a Person, and He unconditionally loves each of us personally. His whole Personality is tied to His love and care for each of us. The spiritual dimension is thus the place where this unconditional love governs all activity. Every one of His actions are founded upon love and compassion.
Therefore, actions of hatred, anger and spite are simply out of context with His world. They run contrary to His Personality and nature. Self-centered activities of lust, envy and anger oppose love. Where true love is, envy, hatred and anger do not have a place. It is for this reason that actions against love have such negative consequences.
We were all created with an innate propensity for love. But each of us also has the innate ability to make choices. This is because freedom is inseparable from love. If God forced us to love Him that would hardly be considered real love.
Those of us floundering among the temporary physical dimension, dwelling within these temporary "garments of skin” made a choice at one point or another not to love and trust God. This decision point is the symbolic story of Adam and Eve.
So now we find ourselves here trying to enjoy as He might enjoy. Here we try to play god by trying to control and dominate others, and gather up as much money, possessions and attention as we possibly can. As the expression goes: "He who dies with the most toys wins." This aptly summarizes our attempts to "win" over our environment by trying to enjoy as a ruler - the expression of our desire to be in God's position.
God did not want to lose us, though. So He also designed a facility to allow us to learn that there is no real happiness here without His love, and no fulfillment without our loving relationship with Him. This is confirmed by Jesus' most important teaching:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of Matthew without sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)