Reading: Matthew 5:21-32
Today Jesus is talking about the importance of human relationship.
Let’s think about what Jesus said one by one:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’”
In his days, Jesus was speaking to his Jewish people.
His Jewish people knew about the story of Cain and Abel: Genesis 4:1–16
Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve.
Cain and Abel wanted to worship God and offered gifts to God.
But then God received the offering of Abel because his heart was right.
And Abel sensed that God was with him and was saying to him:
“You did what was right.”
But when Cain worshiped God, God could not accept his worship.
God rejected the offering of Cain because he didn’t do what was right.
Cain did not worship God in the right way.
Cain did not offer what God want from him: his heart.
But then Cain felt jealousy and envy and anger at his brother.
Why was he angry at his brother?
Because his brother was an easy target, like a scapegoat to whom he could express his anger.
So he thought about killing him.
He felt about killing him.
He planned about killing him.
He didn’t resist those thoughts of anger.
Then Cain killed his brother who lived very well with God.
This story has been repeated as various people killed God’s prophets.
This story was repeated even in the story of Jesus as well as the Jewish religious leaders killed Jesus.
Anyway, when Cain killed his brother, his sin hurt God’s heart.
So God said to Cain something like this:
“The blood of Abel was crying out from the earth.
You have committed this sin.
And because of your sin, you are under a curse.”
Then about 2000 years later, God taught Jewish people through Moses saying: Exodus 20:13
“You shall not murder.
Otherwise, you will be judged and in a big trouble.”
Now Jesus was adding or explaining:
“If you are angry with a brother or sister, you are guilty of murder.”
If you are angry at someone, it is like as if you are killing him or her.
So if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be judged and in trouble.”
Killing and being angry is about the same thing in God’s heart.
Human angers produce sins which hurt God’s heart.
So when we are angry, we come to God in repentance in the name of Jesus.
Jesus explains more:
“If you say to a brother or sister, ‘worthless,’ then be ready to answer to the heavenly court and judgment.
If you say, ‘You stupid!’ you will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Jesus was asking people not to humiliate each other with words.
When we humiliate each other, we live a life of hell.
Jesus was the most smart person in the world.
He is wiser than us.
He is perfect.
He was also disappointed and displeased by human actions.
But he has never said to anyone:
“You are worthless garbage.”
Learning from Jesus, James said: James 1:20
“Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Learning from Jesus, Paul said: Colossians 3:8
“You must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
This is what Jesus asks us.
Jesus may ask us to say each other:
“You are so precious.
You are jewels and treasures.
You made this day a special day, by just being you.
There is no person in the world like you.
God loves you, just the way you are.”
Our words we use matters to God.
Jesus wants to us to bless each other.
Jesus wants us to wait for each other to grow.
Our growing process is different.
So we may be disappointed in our relationship.
But Jesus asks us to get rid of anger.
Jesus asks us not to judge someone or condemn someone.
Jesus asks us to forgive and ask God to help them and us.
Because Jesus has come to forgive those who sin against God, Jesus can explain what sin is.
Jesus may be saying:
“I was crucified to save all people including those whom you don’t like.
Some people may call them garbage.
But I died for them.
So as my students, love those whom people may call garbage.
I died for them because God loves them so much.
So pray for them and bless them.
Bless even your enemies whom I died to save.”
Then Jesus says: (Matthew 5:23-24)
“If you are offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar.
First, go and be reconciled to them.
Then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus may be also asking us to resolve our relationship with those who hurt us, like Jesus himself.
Jesus may be asking us to let them know that we have forgiven them.
Otherwise, no matter how much money we give to church, God may say:
First, go reconcile with your brother or sister.
Let them know that you have forgiven them.
Then bring your offerings, prayer and worship.”
We may want to say:
“Jesus, please don’t talk about my relationship with that person.
He hurt me so bad.
They have done wrong.
They have spoke against me.”
But Jesus may say:
But go and have a good relationship with them.
Seek to reconcile with them.
Endure and do good.
Then you will have a good relationship with God.
Then when you pray, God will say:
‘Here I am!’”
But still some may say:
“Forget about my friends, God.
I just want to have a better relationship with you.
I want to experience you.
That is all.”
But God may say:
Have a good relationship with your friends.
Otherwise, your attitude toward your friends is hurting me.
Then how can you have a better relationship with me?
When you have a broken relationship, you may not experience me fully.
You may not walk with me with a good heart.
So please have a better relationship with them.
Then I can really bless you.”
That is why when we forgive someone from our hearts, you have a better relationship with God.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.
Do it while you are still together on the way.
Or your adversary may hand you over to the judge.
The judge may hand you over to the officer.
You may be thrown into prison.
You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
What is Jesus saying here?
I guess Jesus was saying: we may have hurt someone.
We may unwillingly hurt others and destroy their peace.
We may hurt someone’s feeling and hinder someone’s prayer life.
We may have done something against them.
Then they may have gone to a wrong direction: bitterness or anger.
Then their prayer life was blocked, as they were angry with us.
Since they were disappointed with us, they may say “worthless or fool.”
Then since they don’t like us, they may not experience God fully.
The Holy Spirit may not be able to work fully among us.
So Satan may accuse us before God.
Satan may hand us over to God.
We may find ourselves in the court of heaven.
Then because of our sin, we may be handed over to a prison.
We cannot get out until we pay for our sins.
So we pray for our enemy and seek to reconcile with them.
We talk with them, while we are on earth.
We go and reconcile with them.
When we reconcile with our enemy, we may experience God’s forgiving grace.
We experience God who loves us.
Then God listens to our prayer.
And we may be able to listen to God again.
Since we are talking about relationship.
We may need to talk about racism, too
Racism is also sin.
Racists look up or look down on someone based on their skin colors.
Racists look down on people whom God loves.
Racists may think that some people are subhuman.
Then they feel better about themselves.
This is a sickness in thoughts.
People are racists because they do not know God.
This sinful thought may break our relationship with God.
But then racists may say:
“I didn’t discriminate against God”
But God says:
“Yes, you did.”
Because racism breaks our relationship with God, we also repent of our sins of racism.
God creates all people and loves them.
God loves everyone.
God wants to save them and helps them to live abundant life.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
But anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
We need to protect our thought.
We can sin just by thinking about certain things that is not good.
Our careless thought can be a sin that offends God.
Our thought matters to God.
Our feeling matters to God.
So through Jesus our God, we protect our heart to have good thoughts.
We try to think good thoughts in the name of Jesus.
We try to say good prayers for others, no matter who they are.
In this way we may become the person whom God can bless.
Paul asked us to think good thoughts: Philippians 4:8
“Think what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.”
When we think about these things, we know that we live with God.
The Holy Spirit helps us think good thoughts so that the world may experience God.
Some may say:
“I tried before.
I am not able to do this.
I have this judgmental thought and harmful thoughts going on in my head.
This looks impossible.”
But Jesus encourages us:
“Try one more.
Bless people to experience God’s blessings.
Bless people to be changed and experience God’s goodness.
Then you experience God.
You experience the love of God.
You understand how to live with God as God guides and blesses you.
Jesus said to Jewish men who had social and financial means in his days:
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ (Deut 24: 1-5)
But anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Jesus talks about those who does not know the importance of marriage.
Jesus is asking them to keep their marriage.
If there is a problem, they may constantly reconcile and seek to reconcile.
In this way, we may live purely and holy.
As they seek the betterment of their spouse, they may find joy and peace.
So they may need to pray for their marriage so that the Holy Spirit may help them and keep their marriage.
Like this Jesus is also explaining our relationship with God.
The prophet Hosea also said that our relationship with God is like a marriage relationship.
But God would not divorce us even when we are unfaithful.
The same God may ask any couple to learn to be faithful in their marriage.
God asks them to learn to practice what God is practicing with them:
Love like God, no matter what others do.
Then God may turn every situation into a blessing.
Then they may find more blessings hidden in their marriage.
Jesus wants to help us like this.
In this way, we may follow Jesus.
Today we heard what Jesus says about human relationship.
According to Jesus, any relationship is important.
We need to seek to live in peace with everyone.
Then we may learn more of Jesus.
We may understand the truth about us.
When we have a better relationship, we may find true happiness.
This is why we need the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is ready to empower us to have good relationship.
So we pray the Holy Spirit may work in our hearts so that we may have a wonderful relationship.
God wants to bless us like that.
When we fail, from time to time, we we repent and pray and try again and again in the name of Jesus.
We try because it will be possible in the name of Jesus.
We try because we love Jesus.
May the Holy Spirit persuade us and change us to seek good relationship. May the Holy Spirit inspires us to think good thoughts and be blessed.
May the Holy Spirit changes a thousand people around us to live in peace with us.
Jesus, thank you for sanctifying us.
May you help us to have a good relationship with others.
May we find God in our relationship.
May we understand God and live like God and think like God.
May the Holy Spirit who is in us helps us to realize the importance of our relationship with others.
In Jesus name we pray.