You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. [Matthew 5:21-22 NLT]
Jesus takes relational living below the surface and beyond the superficial as he describes the differences between the letter and the spirit of the law. Consider the verses that follow:
So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. [Matthew 5:23-24 NLT]These words convince us of the serious nature of forgiveness and reconciliation. Name calling is serious because of the damage and alienation that results. Yet Jesus also speaks to those offended and their reactions to those who call them names. He requires them to forgive them and seek reconciliation.
I think that it is so easy to fall back on the letter of the law in these situations. I mean who in their right mind would befriend one who insults and accuses them? It is the difference between those who live according to the letter of the law and those who live from the spirit behind it.
Father, help me to embrace the spirit of the law. Help me to forgive.
... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.