Jesus sets standards for us based on a whole different world. It is His Father’s world. It is a world of consequences and accountability.
- Sometimes it is convenient for us to think that it is not that way.
- Jesus is direct and forces us to deal with that.
- No free passes at all.
With the help of God’s Spirit, we can control what we say. We are accountable for the hate or love that comes out of our mouth. Our words may be thoughtless but are real. Thoughtlessness is not love.
- What is it that God demands of us?
- What is God’s goal for us?
- Jesus knows it.
It is simple. It is love. Live a life of love, he challenges us. All the time. That is God’s goal for us. He has given us His Spirit to give us the power to do it. Every day.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.
First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
English Standard Version. (2016).
(Matthew 5:21–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
There is a holy anger against sin, but Jesus talked about an unholy anger against people. The word He used in Matthew 5:22 means “a settled anger, malice that is nursed inwardly.” Jesus described a sinful experience that involved several stages. First there was causeless anger. This anger then exploded into words: “Raca—empty-headed person!” These words added fuel to the fire so that the person said, “You fool—rebel!”
Anger is such a foolish thing. It makes us destroyers instead of builders. It robs us of freedom and makes us prisoners. To hate someone is to commit murder in our hearts.
This does not mean that we should go ahead and murder someone we hate, since we have already sinned inwardly. Obviously, sinful feelings are not an excuse for sinful deeds. Sinful anger robs us of fellowship with God as well as with our brothers, but it does not put us into jail as murderers. However, more than one person has become a murderer because he failed to control sinful anger.
Sinful anger must be faced honestly and must be confessed to God as sin. We must go to our brother and get the matter settled, and we must do it quickly. The longer we wait, the worse the bondage becomes! We put ourselves into a terrible prison when we refuse to be reconciled. It has well been said that the person who refuses to forgive his brother destroys the very bridge over which he himself must walk.
The Good News: Jesus shows us the way to love. It is not an easy one, but it is a valuable one. It gives us peace and right standing in our relationships. The way of Jesus is the way of love.