Ewald Schmidt
'You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment." But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, "Raca" is answerable to the court. And 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 or sister has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:21-24, NIV
Relationships are the most crucial factor of God’s kingdom. Yesterday, we learned that Jesus came to fulfil the Law, by restoring our relationship with God and our fellow man. Now, we are following him as his disciples. He came to this world as the Prince of Peace, the healer of broken relationships. He also sends us into this world to be peacemakers, then we will be known as children of God (Matthew 5:9).
Each one of us can bear witness that it is not always easy to live in peace with every person crossing our paths. We know that the seventh commandment teaches us not to kill. This is a general rule in most civilisations across the world. This is the letter of the Law – do not kill your fellow man. But in Jesus’ interpretation of this Law, we find something new. Jesus first brings up the law, which his listeners are familiar with and know by heart. Then, he takes it to a new dimension when he gives a new meaning to it with the words “but I tell you …”. These words would have infuriated the Pharisees, as only God has the mandate to change his laws. However, Jesus has that authority too.
Jesus goes straight to the heart of the seventh commandment. My neighbour’s life is also precious to the Lord. To obey the command means more than just refraining from killing him. My actions, thoughts and deeds must be a blessing to him. Jesus brings my attitude into this command.
If I am to be a blessing to those around me, my words, thoughts and deeds towards them matter. I am already in the wrong when I curse my neighbour or threaten them in any way. It is not fitting to slander them, gossip about them or demean them by calling them idiots.
Relationships are so important to the Lord that he commands us to even try to mend the relationship with the one who is angry with us. Peace among people is more important than offerings to the Lord. When we have peace in our hearts and relationships, then we can lift up holy hands to praise him. Disciples long for peace, we go out of our way to be peacemakers in this world. We learn to apologise when we are wrong. If all people calling themselves Christians would be peacemakers, this world would be a much better place!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you died on a cross for me, because I am prone to be a broken and selfish person. You, as the Prince of Peace, came into my life to bring me peace with God. Thank you for your grace in my life. Teach me to reach out a hand of peace to those around me. Amen.