Matthew 5:21 – “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.’ 22 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.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “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. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (NIV)
Last week we looked at how God desires for us to live holy lives. Christianity is not just about the free gift of salvation, but about living distinctively different lives in a fallen world. In today’s passage, Jesus continues this teaching, and he shares with us a very important lesson – being right with God means that we will do everything we can to be right with one another.
This passage begins with Jesus telling us that even being angry is subject to the same judgment as murder! That’s powerful! He teaches us that when we call someone a fool, or Raca (which was an Aramaic term of contempt, akin to calling someone an idiot), we are in danger of the fire of hell. Could this be true? Yes, it is! Christianity is not just about salvation, it is about living peacefully with one another. If we trust in Jesus for a future event (eternity in the presence of God), then we should trust the teachings of Jesus and seek to live differently right now. It comes down to this: our relationship with others should model our relationship with God. This is radical teaching, but this is Christianity.
This was not a new biblical teaching. Speaking for God, the prophet Amos told spoke these words centuries before Jesus:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24, NIV).
Through Amos, God was basically saying the same thing that Jesus taught – we must be right with one another before we can be right with God. Amos, like Jesus, tells us that worship is worthless if we have not sought to live in a right relationship with one another. Paul teaches us in Ephesians: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV).
Today, let us strive to live in harmony with one another. Let us glorify God through every interaction we have with each and every human being.
Posted by Ramón Torres