We’re sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to the greatest sermon every preached. Yesterday, Jesus told us that he came to deepen — not destroy — the demands of God’s law.
Today, he begins to show us what he means:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
Jesus knows where murder starts: in our hearts.
Hateful thoughts. Angry insults. How often have we murdered others in our minds? Crushed their spirits with our words? Destroyed reputations with our whispers?
Jesus wants us to take action now. If you’re in church about to put money in the offering plate and suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave immediately and go make it right. If you’re on your way to court, settle quickly before you get there.
John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, put it this way:
Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15)
Don’t wait. Stop the hate. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with love right now.