Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jesus's Commands - Matthew 5:21-26

I forget how much I like Jesus's Sermon On the Mount. 

Today's scripture gives more then one command, but as we shall see, they are focused on one theme.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

These commands follow a small discourse about how the act of being angry with someone is akin to the act of murder.  Let me say this.  Is all anger sinful?  Jesus himself was angry many times in scripture.  Anger is wrong when it is selfishly motivated.  We have to be very careful about our anger.  If we are going to act based on our anger we better be angry for a good reason and it shouldn't involve selfish interests.

With that being said, Jesus then commands us to go and reconcile any differences we may have with our "brothers" when we "offer a gift at the alter."  Why?  The answer is really simple.  How can we truly worship a God who has freely given himself for us and holds nothing against us when we harbor unforgiveness in our heart?  We can't because not being able to forgive will always be at the core of our heart and thoughts.  It is unforgiveness that leads to some atrocious and heinous sin.  This is why he commands us to be right with one another.

He then tells us to settle things outside of court.  This seems like a strange command, but again, it has to do with the heart.  I'm sure many of you have seen televised court hearings.  What strikes me about most of the cases is that there is, once again, unseated unforgiveness on at least one party's side.  To try and reconcile outside of court is to maintain a humble attitude in seeking forgiveness so that there is no chance of bitterness taking root being the result of sin.

Basically Jesus is once again telling us to love one another.  Love is a selfless act.  If we are angry with someone, even hating someone, it will lead to sin.  That is a guarantee.  If you have an issue with someone and you are having trouble letting your anger go then you need to make yourself seek reconciliation.  Go and forgive.  Isn't that what God has done for us?

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