Daily Reflection – 3/3/2023
Jesus said to his disciples: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.” (Matthew 5:20-26)
It should come as no surprise that today’s scripture points us to the greatest evil that confronts our world. It’s an evil that is worse than any other because it infects every person that chooses to harbor it.
That evil is anger. It marks every territorial dispute, every country, every neighborhood, and every street.
In berating the Pharisees, Jesus points to the heart as the seat of desire, choice, and intention. Unless forbidden and evil desires are uprooted and cut-out, the heart will be poisoned, and the body become a slave to sin and passion.
Jesus illustrates his point with the example of the commandment to not kill. Murder first starts in the heart as the seed of forbidden anger that grows within until it springs into words and actions against one’s brother or neighbor. This is a selfish anger that broods and is long-lived, that nurses a grudge and keeps wrath warm, and that refuses to die.
Anger in the heart as well as anger in speech or action are equally forbidden. The Lord Jesus commands by grace – take away the anger in your heart and there will be no murder.
As we look around, we recognize that it has infected our society. We no longer can have civil discourse about many issues. So many say that “well, that’s politics” or “well, that’s the way it is today.” We have allowed anger to separate friends, to divide families, to move away from those we love. Worse yet, some choose to use social media to promulgate their thoughts thoughts.
We must dig deep inside and call out anger for what it is before it invades each one of us and grows with no check.
If we want to follow the Word of God and term ourselves as followers of the Word, then to harbor anger in our thoughts, speech and actions contradicts the very definition of Christian.
In the cross of Calvary, we see the supreme example of love and the power for overcoming evil. God has forgiven us, and he calls us to extend mercy and forgiveness towards those who cause us grief or harm.
The Lord invites us to forgive and be forgiven; to love and be loved. He calls us from afar, from within, from above. We can heed the call or else, prepare for a long-drawn-out battle with the devil of intrigue, suspicion, jealousies and falsehoods. We will not win!
To be angry. To speak hostility. To define others as not like us. To hide behind politics to justify an inner rebellion or dissatisfaction is contra to His Word.
Jesus is calling us to go beyond the letter of the Law and acknowledge that we have a greater responsibility than just what the Law calls for. We are called into communion with each other and in doing so, with God. When we can see the face of God in others, then we know that we are close to being who Jesus challenges us to be because our hearts are changed. He is calling us to a new beginning. It isn’t an easy road and if we struggle today, then we always have tomorrow to try again.
But try we must. On that cross, our very Lord continued to forgive to the last breath of His body. Remembering that, why can’t we?
Prayer of The Day
Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the opportunity to go out and love others as you love us. Lord, help us to never let go of you, and to always follow your ways. Help us be slow to anger and quick to love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
If we come to worship God and there are feelings of anger, revenge or hatred in our hearts, then our worship remains incomplete. It is only an external worship and not true worship. God does not need our adoration, but if want to adore him it must also come from within. It can’t come from within if we harbor anger, malice, bitterness or negative judgements about others. That is false worship and certainly not adoration.