You Have Heard That It Was Said...
Read Matthew 5:21–26
“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.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“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. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
On several occasions in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the phrase, “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” In today’s passage, we read Jesus saying, “You have heard that it was said...‘you shall not murder…’ but I tell you that anyone that is angry…will be subject to judgment.” In other words, Jesus cares about the state of our hearts, not just our actions. It is anger within that causes murderous action. So, Jesus says, let’s work on the anger.
- Reflect on your relationship with anger. Is anger an emotion you feel often? What do you think underlies your anger? (If anger feels like a word that doesn’t quite fit, you might substitute resentment or bitterness.)
- What do you need to do and what do you need God to do so that you can begin to release your anger (or resentment or bitterness)?
- What invitation do you sense God extending to you through today’s passage when it comes to anger (or resentment or bitterness)?
God, illuminate in me the things that need to change. Remind me that I’m deeply and forever loved. Give me the courage to look at anger, resentment, or bitterness in my life and release these feelings to You. Be gentle as You transform me. Amen.