What’s Really on Your Mind?
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
Here our Lord takes the sixth commandment (“You shall not murder.” [Deuteronomy 5:17]), and without adding anything to it, He limits and expands it! He restrains the adherence of it in order to expose our motivation and to prevent our abuse, while at the same time expanding the breadth, strictness, and spiritual nature of the command according to its true intent.
Jesus was neither doing away with the Law nor adding His own belief to it. He was simply giving a fuller understanding of the Law and exposing the depth of purpose behind it. The laws of God are eternal they never change or become obsolete. Murder has always been and always will be forbidden by God.
Jesus’ teaching here extends the Law beyond the mere act of murder. What is the motivation behind an anger or hatred so strong as to manifest itself in killing? What are the inward lusts from which fights and quarrels come? It is a fundamental error to teach a divine prohibition of an act without delving into the sinful thoughts lurking behind the action. Jesus tells us not only are we are not to murder, but we are not even to be angry to the point of wanting to murder.
The Pharisees felt righteous because they had not literally committed murder, yet they were angry enough at Jesus to plot His death. They thought they were not guilty because they did not dirty their own hands with the actual deed. It is easy to miss the intent of the law when one does not seek to understand the why behind it.
The Law of God is to be a hedge of protection around our lives. When we are “walled in” with this hedge we are able to lie down in green pastures with restored souls (Psalm 23:2-3). God desires for each one of us to be an example of His love to one another and the world.
The Apostle John writes:
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. (1 John 3:11-15)
Jesus tells us we are not to slander our brothers and sisters in Christ. However light we may make of our gossip, it will one day be reckoned for. Slanderers and those who critically rebuke others have poison under their tongues. Jesus tells us out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks:
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
Take It to Heart
“Though salvation is not by the works of the law, yet the blessings which are promised to obedience are not denied to the faithful servants of God. The curses our Lord took away when He was made a curse for us, but no clause of blessing has been abrogated. We are to note and listen to the revealed will of the Lord, giving our attention not to portions of it but to ‘all these words.’ There must be no picking and choosing but an impartial respect to all that God has commanded. This is the road of blessedness for the Father and for His children. The Lord’s blessing is upon His chosen to the third and fourth generation. If they walk uprightly before Him, He will make all men know that they are a seed which the Lord has blessed.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)