We talked last Sunday (8/25/13) about the sixth of the Ten Words — Do not murder — and noticed that Jesus expanded the command by saying …
“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. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. – Matthew 5:21-22
With this commentary on the Sixth Commandment Jesus challenges not just our violent actions but our emotions, our thoughts, and our words — deliberate or careless. So in that sermon I said “Raca is an Aramaic word that means its object is worthless and beneath contempt. Our language is full of words like Raca: how about loser, jerk, slimeball, reject, worthless piece of … When we question someone’s worth, when we say they’re good for nothing, when we feed and nurse a hate-filled attitude toward someone, what does Jesus say about us? That we’re in danger of the fires of hell, just like murderers.
“You say, ‘Lighten up! It’s just a word, an expression. I don’t really mean anything by it!’ And Jesus replied, ‘I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned,’ (Matthew 12:36, 37).”
Unfortunately, it is frequently those who are closest to us — those we say we love — who are our “murder victims,” the ones on the receiving end of our “violent and murderous” actions and words.
But we didn’t take the time that morning to look at the following verses that tell us how Jesus continued that conversation in his “Sermon on the Mount.” Look at this…
“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. – Matthew 5:23, 24
So, if we are responsible for our actions and our attitudes, our emotions and our words, Jesus says we have to take full responsibility when we “murder” someone and make it right by initiating reconciliation.
Wow, this is challenging! It calls for a level of humility — combined with emotional maturity and personal strength — that few can (or want to) muster.
But again, our example for strength wrapped in humility is … Jesus…
…in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:3b-8
Talk about strength wrapped in humility! Following the “other-centered, servant-minded” example of Jesus, it is up to you and I to do the right thing; apologize and ask for forgiveness when we have wronged someone. And then change that attitude or vocabulary or whatever so that we are not “killing” people.
Let’s be givers of grace.
Resting in Him,