“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.
In the last blog we talked about allowing the law and the prophets to be a mirror to our hearts. Most of us feel that we are “good enough” or “better than”. However, when we see ourselves clearly under the firm teaching of the law and the prophets, we begin to see the intention of the heart. Yes, we did something nice. But we did it so that we could get the applause. Maybe we want bragging rights for our patience. Regardless the law and the prophets will expose us at least to ourselves.
On the surface as I examine myself, I rarely break the ten commandments. Some claim that because we live under the new covenant the law no longer applies. But Jesus does not dismiss the old, he is adding to it. This passage is the first in the sermon to point this out to us. Do not murder. Simple straight forward. In my lifetime I have never killed, taken life from another human being. The biggest thing I ever killed was a very sick turkey that was suffering. It really was an act of compassion that was asked of me by my family. I found even that sort of killing to be difficult. As a soldier I have committed myself to defend others and if needed I am willing to take life. That would be a last resort to save someone else. But the actual killing of a human, not on my list of past sins.
If we were under the old covenant that many say no longer applies, I would be good to go. This sin would hold no sway on me. However, Jesus adds to the law. My personal history is full of times where I have lost my temper, where anger got the best of me. Jesus tells me here that I am subject to the judgement. The Father loves me, that does not change. But if I lose my temper, He is not proud of me. He cannot brag on me because I have broken the commandment not to murder. If, even in my anger, I use my words to cut someone down and insult them; I have murdered their soul. I have broken the commandment.
What Jesus is teaching me is that I must guard my words carefully. I must use them to speak the truth in love. While correction may be required, I must remember that the ultimate end that I am speaking life into them. I look around at our world today and it is dying slowly from all of the negativity around us. If someone does not agree with us or votes different than us, we throw our words around and stab at them with little barbs of hate.
My friends the lesson here is that we must speak life. Jesus is commanding us to think about how our words will either build someone up or tear them down. Choose life. Build up those around you. Even if they disagree with you, build them up. Even if they don’t seem willing or unable to understand you, build them up. Inspire others toward life.