Matthew 5: 21-22 “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.
I hate to admit this, but I have always found it difficult to get my head around this one for a couple of reasons. First, I always believed that no one really got angry with others unless there was a good reason for it. This is pretty much where I left it in my heart. But then, I continue to return to this scripture and find myself contemplating it all over. Finally, I have found a way to drive the point home in my heart. The world that I live in is a fast-paced, manipulative environment, with provocative commercials and television shows on at all hours of the day, with people who call my business and have no problems dropping a curse word here and there, just in general conversation. It makes things that are really against God’s heart seem okay and even normal because everybody’s doing it. So, it stands to reason that people who are behaving this way also allow themselves to become offended pretty easily too because they aren’t allowing for others to behave in their own way.
I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense, so I will try to explain my thoughts. I really dislike cursing (although I used to curse like a sailor before my heart changed). I know several other people who dislike cursing also and they are pretty demonstrative about it. I believe that it’s okay to let another person know what your beliefs are, such as my immense dislike of cursing. But I believe that’s the farthest I should go. I refuse to expect you or anyone else to completely change the way you talk just because you are afraid to offend me. I refuse to let you offend me no matter what you do. But, society today is double-minded. We talk about being tolerant of other people’s religions, sexual orientations, race, etc., but we also have a way of making those people feel bad for whatever they do that goes against our “norm”. This brings me to my second point of difficulty about the scripture.
I never understood how criticizing a person for doing something wrong could put me in jeopardy. Duh! This one really made me feel like an idiot. Of course criticizing someone else is dangerous for me! That puts me in the judgmental category and beyond that, I’m chopping away at someone’s feelings with my judgments. Who am I to say I’m perfect against what you are doing? We ALL know that’s not true! And yet, when I look at Facebook, all I see are criticisms of our government, our police forces, our teachers, our students, our parents, and many other people who are intricately involved in all our day to day lives. Go look in a mirror. (I had to do this) This is where it’s really hard because we don’t really see ourselves. Not the real us, just the us that we want to see. When I got a glimpse of who I really was, my heart was shaken. I couldn’t even keep that image in my mind because it was so frightening. Am I really that selfish and judgmental of everyone else?
This is what Jesus is talking about. He’s telling us that if we continue in this way, we will (and probably already have) develop a “Killer instinct”. It means we are going around in life and killing off the people around us with our criticism, hatefulness and judgments. None of us are qualified to make any of the judgments we have made, and yet we don’t even see it. We believe that because you’re gay, you deserve to be treated like dirt. Well, that’s not true and God doesn’t see it that way either. He loves you, me and even my worst enemy the same. We all have the same opportunity to see God for who He is and appreciate Him for all that He has done. If we don’t see it, then we can’t believe it. If I don’t show it through the love that God has given me, then essentially I am murdering those people around me. I’ve developed the killer instinct just by not following the two most important commands, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Yea. I just got smacked in the face with that realization.