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Matthew 5:21-22 | The Highest Standard

Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV): “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.”

1) The heart of the problem

We live in a time where it is so easy to lash out against other people and slander those who disagree with us, especially on social media. The current political division and tension between people living in the United States [with differing viewpoints, primarily] create an environment based on anger and justification and are continually corroding self-control and wisdom. Real issues are pressing this country--issues that should be addressed and dealt with in the best way possible. But what is the best way possible, and how do we navigate that? Ultimately, the turmoil we are witnessing, along with the decreasing presence of peace, is not caused by any policy, organization, or particular person--rather, it is ultimately caused by a sickness in the heart of man.

In Matthew 5, Jesus identifies the root of the issues of man. Christ acknowledges the reality that the Israelites of that time had been living in: “it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’” The status quo was simply, “If I murder someone, I am then in danger of the judgment. But, if I don’t murder anyone, then no judgment for me.” Not so, says Jesus. In usual Christ fashion, Jesus ups the ante to 1000%, simply saying that even being angry at someone without a cause or calling someone a fool will put you in danger of hellfire. I think it can be easy to look at the first part of Christ’s words and say, “But, Jesus says if you are angry without a cause, it’s a bad thing--so, therefore, it’s ok for me to be angry at this person because I have a good reason!” But what is deemed a worthy cause or a good reason? Is it by your standard alone that these things are defined? And if it is by your standard, doesn’t everyone then have their own standard? Where is the line in which you are justified? When we walk in this way and try to justify ourselves in sin, we are no longer dealing in truth.