Yesterday, I continued in my series I am calling Kingdom Living. It is a look at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5-7. This was #5 in the series and we found ourselves in Matthew 5:21-26, a very familiar portion of Scripture, but one that is very difficult to apply to our lives. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is the portion of Scripture where Jesus says that you have always been taught that murder is wrong, but that the heart of murder is anger. If anyone is angry with someone, they have committed murder in their heart and they will stand condemned.
It is easy to understand what Jesus is saying, but it is very difficult to feel it. It is very difficult to think that before God, those feelings of anger or hatred or thoughts are just as bad as if I had taken a gun and shot them or a knife and slit their throats. Of course, we know there are different consequences in our physical world between killing and anger. Maybe that's why we think they are not as bad in God's eyes.
But what Jesus is saying is that they are as bad. Just because you have not taken a rock or an iron object (Num 35:16-21) or a gun or knife and not killed someone does not mean that you have fulfilled the righteous standards of the Law. Jesus is correcting the perversion the religious leaders had made of the OT Law. It had always been about the heart, not just external behaviors.
Do you have anger issues? Have you ever mocked or ridiculed the mental capacity or character integrity of other people? Then what Jesus is saying is that you are a murderer of heart. First John 3:15 says that "everyone who hated his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Obviously this is not a reference to if you have every had hatred in your heart, but John is saying what Jesus was saying. The person of the Kingdom does not LIVE with anger or hatred. The person of the Kingdom continually is shaped & molded into the person who lives with kindness.
Jesus then moves on to give a couple illustrations that the way to deal with anger issues is to deal with them radically. Even if you are at a place of worship and remember that someone has something against you, drop the act of worship and go make things right. Why? Because being reconciled to that person is itself an act of worship!
John Stott has said, "how seldom do we heed Christ's call for immediacy of action." Why is that? Why do we think it can wait? Let me encourage you that if you find out that there is something between you and someone else, drop what your doing and do everything you can to make it right. So what if you are completely innocent. Humble yourself and seek reconciliation. Make it your resolution that as far as it depends on you, that you will live at peace with all men (Rom 12:14-18).
A Life of Kindness, you can listen to it HERE! It is usually uploaded by Tuesday afternoon.