Lent – Day 12 – A Study of Matthew 5
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:19-22
Up ‘til now in this message Jesus has focused on the blessings associated with suffering for the cause of Christ and living openly before the world as one who is identified completely with Him. Now He turns His attention to the weightier matters of living life in the day-to-day contexts of keeping the commandments, not just some, but the whole.
The scribes and Pharisees were experts at choosing those commandments they would keep and those they would ignore. This was not the righteousness of God, but the false righteousness of men, which is no righteousness at all. Jesus called the disciples and us to live life on a higher plane of righteousness, a plane that is the same as Jesus by keeping the whole law.
The matter of murder, which is forbidden by the law, is the framework on which He builds the case for prohibiting the very thoughts and words that are equivalent to murder. He puts being angry with a brother without a cause and calling another brother “Raca!” (contemptible, inferior, valueless and unworthy of life) and a “fool” is guilty of murder just as though we had committed that sin as well. Why? Because those thoughts and words proceed from the same place, the evil works of darkness. They are the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of sin and death.
Yes, the Word allows for anger, but not without a cause.
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath…” Ephesians 4:26
If our anger leads us to wish evil on another person or to take no thought for their value as a human being that Jesus loves, we are courting murder and we need to repent quickly and turn our hearts back to God to be forgiven and then go further and choose to pray for them, to pray earnestly for them to know God through the grace and love of Jesus Christ and to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit to become like Jesus in Godly wisdom, love and knowledge and understanding, to be saved and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is our job to live and teach the whole counsel of God, not just the parts we like, as the Pharisees did. The reward is the blessing of knowing we are held in high honor in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no place in Scripture that calls us to be the lowliest and most self-effacing in the Kingdom of Heaven. The concept of being self-effacing is a man made attempt to display humility and lowliness as virtues. But they are only virtues when conferred on us by someone else, not something we pursue to attain in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Quite the contrary, we are being called to be kings and priests unto our God [Revelation 1:6; 5:10), sons and daughters of the Most High God, [1 John 3:2], a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation [1 Peter 2:9], vessels of gold set apart for the master’s use [2 Timothy 2:20-21].
In Christ Jesus our Lord we are more than conquerors, through the love He has for us that was demonstrated in that while we were yet sinners He died for us. When we were worthy of His disdain and of being counted unworthy of life, He accounted us His loved ones worthy of His sinless blood to pay the debt for our sins and to restore us to true and eternal righteousness in Christ.
We, therefore, as the born-again sons of God are debtors to all men to extend the same love and account the same value to them as that which was accounted to us. In that love there is no place for “Raca!” or “Fool!”
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29