My maternal grandmother was such a soft and traditonal "lady". She was demure and kind and so very sweet. She was a Christian and sometimes a little too "religious", but she was the love of my life as a child. She made all of my dresses (except for Easter dresses) and many of my shirts and pants (except for blue jeans) when I was very young (probably up until I was a teenager). It's just how things were in the Deep South in the 1960's. Everybody's grandmother sewed their clothes.
She dropped out of school as a 5th grader in 1921. But she kept her reading skills sharp by reading the Bible every single day. Long passages. I'm sure she had a lot of it memorized.
One of her BIG things was that the word, "fool" was a horribly profane word. Just like the really bad ones. I had a cousin one time who had her mouth washed out with soap for saying the word. I was terrified of saying it myself.
But - in actuality - is calling someone a fool a sin that will send you to hell?
Jesus called the Pharisees fools. More than once. And we as Christians know and believe that Jesus Christ had no sin nature and never once sinned - in fact, He didn't even harbor the thoughts about it in His heart because that would be sinning also.
So how do we reconcile Jesus' warning to us in Matthew 5:22 with His own words in the following verses?
And lest there be any confusion, the word for "fool" and "fools" above is the exact same Greek word every time in those five citations.Matthew 5:17-22 - "Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
Matthew 23:17 - "You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?"
Matthew 23:19 - "You fools and blind! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
Luke 11:40 - "Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?"
Luke 24:25 - "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:"
μωρός (moros) - meaning foolish, impious, and godless
Well, Jesus warned us in His Sermon on the Mount that murder was indeed bad and that unjustified anger against a brother was just as bad and could lead to the same consequence in the afterlife as murder.
Jesus was showing the people in this sermon that what the Pharisees were teaching them wasn't exactly the truth. They were teaching the people (people, by the way, who WEREN'T reading the scriptures for themselve, but relied on the Pharisees to tell them what to do and not to do) about superficial works.
Jesus was telling them that it was all rooted in the heart. Murder was just an outward extension of an inward despising of someone for no reason. And by the time it got to name-calling to the point of "raca" and "fool", the UNjustified anger was out of control. Therein lies the sin. The harboring of hate, contempt, and intense scorn/anger for someone for no valid reason and allowing it to fester to the point of verbal abuse that could potential lead to something as vile as murder. It's all about the heart.
Jesus did NOT do this when He called the Pharisees fools. His anger was quite justified. A righteous anger spoken about in Ephesians 4:26. "Be angry and sin not.", it says. Jesus was not "soon to anger" as Titus 1:7 says we should not be. And Jesus wasn't judging them "according to appearance", but He was "judging with a righteous judgment" as John 7:24 speaks about.
Most of all, Jesus FORGAVE these Pharisees. He loved them with a love that we cannot understand EVEN when He called them fools. Some of those guys got saved. (Read Acts 15) Jesus didn't seek vengance against them. He merely pointed out their sin - and their sin WAS foolishness. But He did so to draw their attention to the truth and He died for those very people, also.
Not so with warning He gives us in the Sermon on the Mount. Our anger isn't typically like that. And when we get to the boiling point that we are harboring terrible thoughts about people and calling them foul names, and doing so for an unjustifiable reason or because somehow we think ourselves so high and mighty that we can be their sole judge and jury because we deem ourselves superior, then we ARE in danger.
We are in danger of great sin. And, unlike Jesus, our unjustifiable anger usually bears no room for forgiveness and clings to the notion of vengance. I've been there - more than once. No forgiveness, glad for the unfortunate circumstances of someone whom I couldn't bear to even be in the same room with, let alone think about. My anger had escalated from "mildy" justifiable to completely UNjustifiable with a matter of a few months. It never dawned on me to forgive this person or to think of her without hating her.
The word, "fool" in and of itself isn't the problem. It's the heart of the one - living in an anger "WITHOUT CAUSE" (and NO, someone cutting you off in traffic is NOT a just cause for name-calling and hate) - it's the heart that's the problem.
"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh."
I would say that we all should take heed and not allow unjustifiable anger to fester in our own hearts.
We live in a society today where cruelty of speech and verbal assaults are seen as a personal right.
But I would also say that it isn't the words in and of themselves that destroy, but the heart where the scorn is already putrifying and getting ready to boil like vomit out of the mouth that is the first issue that needs to be addressed.
The context of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5 is the key to understanding if calling someone a fool is a sin or not.
Last edited by JayneR; 02-11-2011 at 11:25 AM.
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet
voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"
— Mary Anne Radmacher
"If you are going through hell ....... keep going." - attr. to Winston Churchill