Matthew 5:21-25 is a very humbling verse that reminds me that Christ not only fulfilled the law; He made it personal. I’m guilty of saying, “You idiot!” when someone cuts me off or veers in front of me in traffic. I immediately go into defense mode and come up with reasons why I have every right to call them names. They are driving like an idiot. They could kill me or someone else. They have no right to do what they did to me. They are at fault, so I can call them anything I want. Idiot is not as bad as some names I would like to call them. The list gets longer while God waits for me to get back to Matthew 5.
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” NASB
I can summarize what those verses do to me with one word. Ouch!! They humble each time I think of them. As I was driving home from a wonderful meal with my son and his family, I found myself calling someone an idiot. God placed Matthew 5 in my path earlier in the day. I had been thinking about the way Christ’s life, death, and resurrection changed the way I must look at God’s laws.
Each time I think someone is an idiot, I commit murder. I was thinking that seemed too harsh. Wasn’t Christ supposed to make it easier between God and me. It seemed He was making it harder. I’m not perfect. I do the best I can. Are you saying that I can’t even think a bad thought when someone almost kills me??
God is faithful to let me rant and rave and rationalize while He waits for me to get the lesson He has in mind. As I drove, I thought about those scriptures and what God wanted me to learn. I asked for help because I wasn’t going to understand this lesson without some assistance. The Spirit helped me see that as soon as I call someone a name, I take away their humanity. In essence, I murder them. They are no longer Mary or George; they are simply an idiot. It’s easier to deal with an idiot than a real person who has problems. I asked God how I could do that with someone I didn’t know and never would.
His answer was, as always, a simple one. Pray for them. I have learned that sincerely praying for someone who hurts me changes the way I see them. They go from an enemy to someone I truly care about. That changes everything, and I figured it would be much easier with someone I didn’t even know who only caused me a moment of grief in traffic. If I see them as a person in need of prayer, I won’t be angry with them. If I think of them being in my path so I can pray for them, I see God in the circumstances.
The next time I find myself starting to call someone an idiot, I plan to stop, say a prayer, and thank God for placing them in my path and granting me the privilege of praying for them. I plan to do that every day for those who do things that make no sense to me. Seeing them in Christ’s light will not only keep me from murdering them, it will also help me build them up. God reminded me of Ephesians 4:29 in that regard.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” NASB
We are here to edify and encourage one another, and that includes all in my path, not only those unknown folks who veer in and out of my life while driving. Christ makes obeying God’s laws very personal, and He wants me to stop murdering those who irritate or aggravate and start loving them in a way that gives them and me the new life He has in mind. I can do that with His help, and He made it very clear to me tonight that He’s always right beside me waiting for me to ask for help.
To kill or not to kill? That’s the question God is asking. When He puts it that way, even I know the right answer!