Welcome back as we continue our exploration of the Sermon on the Mount. The next passage we take a look at may take us a few weeks to get our minds around. We all use words and those words can have several meanings. Sometimes we think we know what something means only to find out something was lost in the translation. We need to extend grace with the words we use and how we say them. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever lost your temper? Threatened to do something to someone? Gone so far as to say we would alter the course of their life and not in a good way?
In life things happen. But when they happen to us, we react. We usually do not wait and sort out what really happened before we respond. We respond out of anger without even the slightest hint of restraint.
In the heat of the moment we have been known to do things they may later regret.
Each of us have buttons, when pressed the words and actions that follow will not be fit for public consumption. We all lose it. We all overreact. The problem is when we do, we don’t reflect the character of God well.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he encourages us to act like we belong to God;
Ephesians 4:26-27; NLT; … And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
What does it mean when we say things to others? Are words really that important?
When we say things or direct comments at people in anger, without knowing all the facts, we fall short of what God wants for us. We use comments that we wouldn’t say to their face. Some of the most damaging words are said behind their backs. Why is it easier to put someone down when they are not there?
Think about driving in your car. How many times do you direct comments at other drivers? How many of those comments are complimentary? It is a byproduct of the world we live in. We think we know how everyone else should be doing things. Nothing could be further from the truth. In these days and times, we have no idea what is going on in the lives of others. I have had to remind myself; I don’t know what they are dealing with, extend to them some grace.
Take a look at this passage and let’s spend some time to explore it.
Matthew 5:21-26, “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.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
If I asked you if you committed murder, you would say no. Well, I hope you would. But take a look at the passage. Jesus says if you even call someone a fool or Raca, which means worthless, you have violated this commandment. Murder is not the same as killing. We think of killing as taking someone’s life. Jesus says murder is killing someone’s spirit.
When we tear someone down with words, we kill their spirit. We devalue them. When we do not value what God values, we elevate ourselves above God. We do not have that right. God values each one of us the same. In God’s eyes we all have worth.
Jesus tells us that when we do not show others the same value that God has for us, we, in effect, murder them, kill their spirit. Jesus says we do not have the right to do that.
I know this is more far reaching than we have considered when we think about the commandment do not murder. That is why Jesus felt compelled to help us understand it better. The things that reflect the character of God build up people. They are beneficial to showing others we care for them and they have value.
Galatians 5:22-23; NLT; But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Many times, we don’t consider the words we use as that harmful, but think about what Jesus is saying. We need to value what God values. We do not have the right to cut down what He has created.
Think about the words we use this week. Maybe ask yourself the question; Do these words build or teardown? It makes no matter if they are used in public or just in your mind, they set the stage for a thought process and lifestyle that doesn’t honor God. Even if you keep them to yourself, eventually they will find their way to your tongue. Then they can’t be taken back.
Philippians 4:8; NLT; And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Ask God for forgiveness for the times we cut others down with words. Ask God to help us focus our minds on things that encourage and lift each other up. Ask God to help us use the right words.