“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:21-24 (NLT)
Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to BECOME a Christian, than to BE ONE?
Jesus refers to the Old Testament "eye for an eye" passage, and breathes life into a demand for reconciliation. He asserts His rightful place as the Authority, and says, in fact: "You have understood the principle as eye for eye....But I say to you that reconciliation is the better way."
A new convert came to his pastor and explained that after reading the story of Zacchaeus he was convicted and tried to return a rope he'd previously stolen from a neighbor. But the neighbor wouldn't be reconciled to him.
"Are you sure that's all you stole from him?" questioned the minister.
"Well," said the new believer, "Do you suppose I should've given him back the calf that was attached to the rope I swiped?"
Jesus makes the point that demeaning someone’s character (calling that person an “idiot”) is no less convictable in heaven’s court than if you murder someone and face an earthly court. The word “idiot” (as translated in the NLT) is Hebrew "raca" and it means "empty head". We run the risk of God's judgment when we let our anger drive us to holding an opinion of another person as lower than what is rightful; that is, all persons are those for whom Christ died!
Anger kills; and it first kills the spirit of the angry person.
You cannot worship God when you are killing your brother; no matter whether the weapon is an attitude or an A-bomb!
Jesus made this point so strong that we might understand – forgiveness from heaven for our sins hangs in the balance, and it is our own attitude we hold towards other people which will tip the scale.
He punctuated the whole issue by instructing his followers to forget about coming to church, putting an offering in the plate, or staying for the potluck dinner if there’s no forgiveness in your heart; it won’t do you any good with God.
It’s that important!
For You, Today…
Are you holding any grudges?