Exodus 20:13 – “You must not murder”
Matthew 5:21-26, 43-48
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. 23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. 25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. 43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
After revealing the reason for murder, unchecked anger, Jesus now reveals the:
B. Results of murder – Unacceptable worship
It doesn’t just affect our relationship with each other but also with God. God’s love of life is so serious that even the more moderate levels of anger concern Him enough to cause Him to refuse to accept our worship. More than riches God want’s right relationships. Why do we think that we can worship and celebrate God when we are not in a healthy relationship with someone else? Because we have become infected by compartmentalize Christianity. Where we compartmentalize our sin instead of confessing it. This creates a lack of consistency between our talk and our walk. Where we live one way during the week and another on the weekend. It’s what Jesus called religion. Religion places an emphasis on how we look instead of how we live. And while we pretend to look holy, giving our gifts to God we are really hypocrites before God. I want you to note that the gifts are left at the altar when you know SOMEONE else is angry with you, even if you are not angry there must be an attempt to heal the relationship with others before we can come and enjoy the relationship with God. The greatest freedom to worship God comes with the freedom of being at peace with others! So if you know someone is mad at you or you are mad at someone then please stop reading and go and make things right. God wants us to be at peace more than He wants our praise. He’d rather you live it out than just read about it and do nothing. Because an offense against your neighbor builds a fence between you and God. Peacemaking here is very personal. The verb tenses change in this passage from the plural “you all” (or ‘y’all’ if you’re from the south) to “you” singular. This message is not for the masses but for me. Friction in the family must be dealt with. The word “brother” is used four times in verses 22-24. As sons and daughters of the Father He desires holy harmony in His family. How we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ is representative of our relationship with our heavenly Father. Jesus makes it clear than an internal attitude is more important than our external offering. As long as there is internal sin, outward acts of worship are not acceptable to God. It’s here that we see our:
C. Rationalization for murder – Unrestricted Warmth
Jesus identifies how the Pharisees had changed the Old Testament law to suit their own behaviors by teaching people to “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” 2000 years later we are no different, because just like the Pharisees we have created a culture of compromise where our convictions are based on our behavior instead of the bible. Instead of letting the bible change our behavior we are changing the bible to fit our behavior. Many of us justify our internal murder of relationships, staying angry for years because we are motivated more by our feelings than the Fathers forgiveness. So, like the Pharisees we look for legal loopholes to justify our sin instead of looking for ways to love and live like Jesus. But love doesn’t look for legal loop holes it looks for ways to bring life. Instead of being beacons of hope they were broadcasting hate. What about us, are we cultivating a culture of hope or one of hate in the church? Sadly, many in the church have become more concerned with saving our culture than seeing people saved by Christ. Why does it matter because hate leads to hurt but love leads to life. Jesus didn’t teach us to love our enemies for their good. It is for our own good, to keep us from becoming the enemy. So, what should our:
D. Response to murder be, relentless love.
Jesus describes this love as:
- Expressive – vs 43-44
We are to live in and live out the love of God. The gospel is based upon three loves: God’s love for us, our love for Him, and in Him our love for others. As you follow these directions of love, you form the cross. In Luke 10 when Jesus was asked the question who my neighbor, He illustrated love through the story of the Good Samaritan. The lawyer who asked the question wanted to talk in the abstract, but Jesus taught in action. Jesus is both what He said and what He did, words and works. Love involves people not just a principle. Why are we failing to express love today because we have forgotten that it’s not just a principle it’s a practice that involves people. Are people your priority, what part of your prayer life pertains to other people? Rather than hate others we should hold them up in prayer. Because it is hard to hate those whom you pray for!
- Expensive – vs 45
Love costs, but not nearly as much as hate does. Love looks for ways to give, it heeds the need whether that is a need for money, materials or just a few moments of our time. There is a cost to compassion. Many of us don’t love because we are unwilling to pay the price.
- Extensive – Vs 46
Love isn’t just a principle it’s practical. Love is not just a feeling its feet that move us to both feed and forgive. But so often we limit our love to only those we like. But notice here that God demonstrates His love toward saints and sinners alike equally, the rain and sunshine fall on both equally, should we not also learn to love equally. No wonder Jesus said in Mat 5:20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”There is no power to Christianity if our love does not exceed the world’s concept of love! The fact that God loved us when we were His enemies is what ultimately transformed us from enemies of God to the friends of God we are in Christ! Even if we don’t murder someone physically, unchecked anger can cause us to murder reputations, murder relationships, murder joy in our lives as well as in others. Only an unrestricted love toward others can heal hearts and free us from the tyranny of hate and anger! What about you, are you living to love or has unresolved anger lead you down the path of bitterness that doesn’t just blind us but binds us?