“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.”
– Matthew 5:21-26 (Jesus speaking; our 6th segment of the Sermon on the Mount)
Over the last couple of days, we have seen in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus told His disciples that 1) He was not rejecting the Old Testament, and 2) He would require more them than the Pharisees did. Jesus would give six examples to demonstrate what He meant by these things. Today, we look at the first one.
You probably recognize the all caps portion as a quotation of the fifth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Jesus intensifies this commandment to include any form of animosity against another person – even being angry with them.
To apply the Law of Moses on this subject, all you had to do was avoid killing a person – not a hard task for most people. To pass muster with Jesus, however, you can’t even hate them. Thus Jesus takes an Old Testament commandment and applies it to the heart. This was certainly beyond anything the scribes and Pharisees were teaching. Besides, police can catch murderers but who can police the thoughts of a human heart except for God Himself? Jesus hints at His divine status by suggesting that He would be a king concerned not just with the behavior of His subjects, but with their thoughts and motivations.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, help me to clean up my thoughts…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)