Read Matthew 5:21-26
He was preaching to thousands. It’s hard to imagine that he would specifically intend this lesson for me, right? Yet, like his parable about the sower, I suppose he was spreading seeds here, and it’s for me to decide what kind of soil I will be. I can’t exactly pick and chose what teachings of Jesus to follow. Well, I can, but then I wouldn’t be following him wholeheartedly, would I?
So, here I am, sitting before this first what if statement and already nervous about what it might require of me. It’s like jumping off a cliff, when you agree to not only read the Word but live by it. Well, here goes…
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Jesus had just mentioned one of the Ten Commandments to the people: “Do not murder”. He knew the people would find self-satisfaction in having been sure to keep this law. I mean, the number of people, especially God-fearing people, who actually commit murder is minute, so I’m sure among those sitting on the mountain, most were in the clear on this one.
I suspect Jesus knew that too, so he pushed the envelope. “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Obviously, if they were going to follow this new teacher, they were going to have to control their anger. Yet, again, I think we still had a majority of the group who could hold their tongue.
Even the ruling religious body had a rule about calling a fellow Jew a contemptible name. Raca is the one Jesus openly referred to, but then he brought it down to their everyday level. “But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Ouch, that hurts. I am obviously going to have to think about what I say before I open my mouth.
If there was any room for self-righteousness on the part of those listening, the what if statement got them. It’s not only what you do or say toward your brother, but what he may be feeling about you. It comes down to relationship. How can I offer my sacrifice to God if my brother is mad at me?
Here is where it hurts and is hard, for it’s so easy to say to myself, “if he’s got something against me, that’s his fault. I can’t control his feelings. I did everything I could. Really.”
I wonder how the people on the mountain took this, because I’m sitting here trying to think about how many broken relationships I may have. “How far do I have to go back on this, Lord?”
How are you taking this? What would you do?
With our age of social media, I’m wondering if a blanket Facebook message would cover it? That way, I’d catch not only those I know about but maybe others I don’t! No, maybe that’s not what Jesus meant. I must go and be reconciled, however I can make that happen. It’s on my shoulders, because I know there is a relationship between my brother or sister in Christ which does not reflect the unity I have with God in Jesus. I have to do my part to seek forgiveness and find healing. Only then can I offer my sacrifice of praise and worship, or my body as a living sacrifice.
I’m sure I can keep from murdering my brother or sister in Christ, but can I keep loving them despite our differences to the glory of God?
What about you?