Matthew 5:21 ESV
Matthew 5:22-26 ESV
Mark 2:15-16 (Pharisees looked down on tax collectors)
Matthew 18:17 (Tax Collectors were shunned)
Exodus 20:13 ESV
Deuteronomy 5:17 ESV
I am often reminded that life is really all about attitude.
In Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Sarah Young wrote, “My peace is like a shaft of golden Light shining on you continuously. During days of bright sunshine, it may blend in with your surroundings. On darker days, My Peace stands out in sharp contrast to your circumstances. See times of darkness as opportunities for My Light to shine in transcendent splendor.”
We choose good or we choose evil every day.
In Matthew 5:21 we read, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’”
When we read this scripture in Matthew 5 we are often too literal and we limit the scope of what Jesus really intended. When I was younger I would gloss past this scripture and tell myself it didn’t really apply to me.
I literally thought it didn’t apply to me because I did not or had not ever wanted to murder someone. But the issue is we need to look at the emotion behind murder. Is is anger? Jealousy? Fear? Revenge?
In Matthew 5:22-26 we are told, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Matthew is telling us the bottom line is that we need to deal with our emotion instead of acting on it. He tells us if we are angry or want to insult someone (which was taken very seriously in that culture) it will be judged as a sin the same as actually murdering someone.
Matthew also peels off another layer with the issue of murder. We need to remember what Matthew did for a living before he met Jesus. He was a despised tax collector.
They were hated. A tax collector at the time of Jesus could make or break a person.
They didn’t have written documents where you got a bill from the taxing authority and you paid it and got a receipt. As long as they did what the Romans wanted and collect as much money as they could get they could set up their own rules. The tax collector was pretty much scorned by everyone. The Pharisees looked down on them (Mark 2:15-16). Tax Collectors were shunned and ostracized by the public (Matthew 18:17). Tax Collectors represented the powerful Roman Government.
When Matthew wrote about hatred he understood it first hand.
Not many people understood hatred like Matthew understood it.
But, Matthew had been changed by Jesus. So, in Matthew 5:23-25 he reminds them before they go to the altar of God if they think of an issue they have with another person, they need to leave immediately to go fix it before giving their gift.
Matthew wrote to his readers the teaching of Jesus stipulate that even their negative thoughts and feelings about another person will stand in the way of the good gift they want to leave at the altar. Jesus basically advised his readers to stop what they are doing and go fix the problem they have with the other person immediately.
It’s all about attitude.
Under the old covenant God commanded Moses in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”
In Deuteronomy 5:17 Moses reminded Israel yet again, “You shall not murder.” God just kept trying to help us GET IT.
When Jesus came, He made it clear that the intent of harming another in the broadest sense of the word (hatred, anger, revenge, and even negative feelings of fear that had been unresolved) were a form of murder. In other words, if we hate someone and we desire harm for them, we murder some part of them. Matthew makes it clear we need to deal with our feelings toward that person before we go to the altar.
We need to deal with our attitude.
That’s why I love Sarah Young’s words of encouragement. Even when our attitude is and continues to be a problem, we can go to God and SAY how we feel. We can tell God we need help with our attitude. We can surrender the bad to God and ask God for His peace.
By going to God and surrendering our darkness (our bad attitude) we can ask God to shine His light on us and give us peace.
See, God knows we are not God-like.
We need God in order to BE God-like.
When we hate someone it really only hurts us. That hatred makes our world ‘dark’.
When we let Jesus shine on our darkness our world is flooded with light.
Spiritual Practice: Go to God
Surrender your negative feelings for another to God and ask God to fill you with His peace.
In God, Deborah