You’re upset with a fellow believer. Well, welcome to what a lot of us have experienced, but what should you do?
We’re continuing our initial journey through the first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and He’s dropped the bomb that His followers have got to be better than the scribes and pharisees in their righteousness or they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
You can’t get around that. You can say, “Well, we’re clothed,” or, “We’re imputed the righteousness of Christ, and so that’s our free ticket into heaven and that’s what Jesus was talking about,” but that’s not what He was talking about because immediately He begins to talk about aspects of practical righteousness, behavior, holiness.
When Jesus said your righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and pharisees, He was not alluding to some imputed righteousness that you get by virtue of being in Christ that has no bearing whatsoever on your practical righteousness. May I submit to you that God has not given anybody any imputed righteousness without giving them some real practical righteousness, as well. That’s why He puts His Holy Spirit in us. That’s part of the package of salvation. If you get forgiven, you’re going to get that part of the package as well in salvation.
All right, so no doubt all of us listening immediately begin to wonder, “Well, what do you mean by that specifically, Jesus, because if I’ve got to do better than the scribes and pharisees, I want to know how,” and so Jesus launches in to mentioning six different areas where the scribes and pharisees were totally blowing it, and one of them was in human relationships.
Jesus started off, we read this in our previous broadcast, about, you’ve heard, “You shall not commit murder. Whoever commits murder will liable to the court.” That’s what they heard the scribes and pharisees teach.
Jesus said that’s really not how it is from God’s perspective. You can get in court not by committing murder. You can get in court just by getting angry at your brother, and you can be bumped up to the Supreme Court if you say to your brother, “You’re good for nothing,” because you’re not loving your neighbor as yourself. You’re not loving your brother. You’re in the groove of murder. You’ve got hatred that you’ve allowed into your heart and if you let it run its full course unrestrained, it results in murder, because we all know that all murder starts with hatred, right? Right.
When God said, “You shall not commit murder,” in the 10 commandments, what did He mean? Did He mean it’s okay to strangle somebody right up until the point where they’re just about dead, but then as long as you release your stranglehold, and they breathe and suck in some air and just barely survive, that you haven’t sinned because you haven’t committed murder?
Well, no, of course. What it implied in that prohibition against murder is everything that would lead up to murder, so anger and hatred are things that lead up to murder. God wants us holy. Jesus has an expectation for us that’s higher than what the scribes and pharisees thought. The scribes and pharisees said, “Well, we’ve never committed murder. I’ve never killed anybody,” but they’ve killed tons of people with their words, murderous words going towards people and God is against that. That put them in God’s Supreme Court.
Jesus finished off, we read this on our previous broadcast, “Whoever says to his brother, ‘You fool,'” so again, this is not love. This is hatred. This is what leads to murder. You’re speaking venomous words, “Shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” That’s how serious it is.
Now, Jesus didn’t say that guarantees you go to hell, but oh my goodness, He came awful close to saying it does, but you’re guilty enough. If you get mercy, of course you won’t go to hell, but what He’s saying is that concerns, maybe we should say that upsets God so much that in His reckoning, it’s worth sending you to hell over. Whoa. We ought to just sit here and think about this for a while.
Okay, so God wants us to be getting along, and so Jesus then goes in to tell us what to do, what to do if you’re not getting along. Very next words, “Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,” so again, this is a broken relationship, “And you think.”
This is a beautiful way Jesus sets this example because He said, even if you’re doing something religious, like showing God that you love Him and so you’ve brought your offering to the alar. You’re making a sacrifice for the Lord, which is a good thing, a praiseworthy thing, but you’ve got your commandments out of order because you’ve got the sacrifice thing above the, “Love your brother,” thing. It ought to be like this rather than like this, right?
Okay, something that’s more important to God than bringing your sacrifice to the altar is being at peace and harmony with your brother, and if you’re not, working towards reconciliation. We’ll even say it this way. If you’re on your way Sunday morning to church and you think, “Well, I’m going to worship the Lord. I’m doing my thing here, doing my religious duty to the Lord. I’m going to show Him I love Him,” but you remember your brother has something against you, well, you ought to turn around, make a U-turn, and get to your brother’s place, reconcile to him.
This is how important it is to God. It really helps us to see how out of focus a lot of us are, and I’m looking at myself right now as I’m saying this to you, on what’s the most important. Well, the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor, so that’s really up there high, isn’t it? Right under love God.
Churchgoing and sacrifices at altars, that’s not up there. That’s not up there with loving your brother. If you remember your brother has something against you, verse number 24, leave your offering before the altar and go first, first because this is the most important thing, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offerings. It’s not saying the offering thing isn’t important. What He’s saying is get your priorities straight. There’s something that’s much more important than making that sacrifice, okay?
That’s what the guy should’ve done who got angry at his brother. Instead of saying, “You fool,” and, “You good for nothing,” that wasn’t love. That wasn’t working towards reconciliation. That was just building up walls, and God doesn’t want us building walls. He wants us tearing walls down.
All right, good lesson for today. We’re going to pick up right here on our very next Little Lesson. Hope to see you then. God bless you.