Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Matthew 5:21-24 -- On Anger and Reconciliation

"Ye have heard that it was said by 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.
Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Matthew 5:21-24


I just looked up the word Raca and I find that it meant "worthless" and the literal meaning was "to spit."  Not a nice thing to say, certainly.  ... I guess on the face of it, some of this seems extreme.  Hellfire for calling someone a fool?  But in thinking past that initial reaction, I think I can see it.  These verses show us how vitally important our interpersonal relationships are.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the first commandment (Love God) that we forget that the second is like unto it... (Love our neighbors).
God starts out saying that we've heard in the past that we shouldn't kill... and that's still a good idea, but he wanted to take it further.  Instead of just not killing, let's not get that angry in the first place.  Let's not pick fights.  Let's not get into those situations where anyone would want to kill.  Let's obey that big law by observing the details and avoiding the danger that could lead us there.
And then, on the other side... if we want to come closer to God and learn to love him, then let's also obey that big law by getting into the details and mastering the basics.  Let's treat his children with respect and love.  Let's not let interpersonal conflict drive away the Spirit of God.
Today, let's avoid treating anyone as though they are a fool, or worthless.  Let's reconcile with the people that we've hurt or offended.  Let's try not to be angry with people.  I am not saying that is an easy thing... but it's definitely worth it to try.  Let's do everything we can to remove the impediments that we have to good relationships with others... because thereby we'll remove the impediments that we have in our relationship with God.

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