You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court,maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.
~Matthew 5:21-26 (The Message)
These 6 verses in Matthew are hard to read. So take a minute and slowly read them again, listen between each paragraph for what God is saying, and breathe. Sometimes it is hard to live in community with others. So go to the Lord and the Scriptures again, take time to listen and make things right with a fellow brother or sister in Christ, and pray.
The Sermon on the Mount gives us a glimpse of what living in community entails. How did the first church live out the words they remembered Jesus teaching them?
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. ~Acts 2:42-43 (ESV)
How are you and I to live out Jesus’ teaching in community today especially when there is so much tension inside and outside our churches today? Here is what I have been putting into practice lately:
- Immediately letting awe and not anger fill my soul’s need for peace by choosing to confidently trusting that God’s wonders and signs are being done through believers.
- Being devoted to prayerfully making the first move toward God and others in honest and authentic worship and fellowship.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit may it be so dear Lord…Amen!