Hatred and Reconciliation


            “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment.  And whoever says to his brother ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.  But whoever says, ‘You Fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.  Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift?” (Mathew 5: 21-24.)


            The focus of evil no longer resided only in the actions, but also within the human heart.  Hatred within the heart and murder were now made equals.  The hate-filled religious leaders despised Jesus because he pronounced judgment upon their hearts.  They were called “hypocrites” by the Lord, because their actions did not match what was in their hearts; he saw into a place that no man could hide from him, and he saw evil.  This Scripture is broken in to two parts.  The first part addresses the person who feels hatred toward a brother or sister.  The second portion addresses the person who refuses to be reconciled to the one they have harmed.  Any hatred for another without a cause is murder.  Any person who refuses to apologize for a wrong they have committed can be causing a person to hate them, and therefore they are guilty of causing another to commit murder.

            Jesus also breaks contempt in to two different categories or courts.  The first is the Sanhedrin, or Jewish Council.  The second is the court of ‘The Almighty God.’  The Jewish council judges the action; God judges the heart, and the one that judges the heart is able to punish to a far greater extent.  The earthly court judges matters that are petty, but the heavenly court, judges matters that are very serious.  The term ‘Raca’ was a verbal show of contempt; if used, the user was liable to be hauled in to court as a result.  The term ‘you fool’ referred to a person’s level of Godliness, rather than to the persons own poor character, implied by ‘Raca.’  Today, to say ‘Raca’ could be compared to calling someone ‘a liar.’  To call someone ‘Godless’ could be compared to calling someone ‘a fool.’  In first century Jewish culture, saying ‘Raca’ could result in a fine, but saying, ‘you fool’ was punishable by having the tongue cut out, or by having red hot mettle pushed into the mouth.  Worldly things and Godly things are being compared here for our benefit.  God’s judgment will be far greater than man’s judgment.

            Another truth in this scripture addresses the common practice of separating one’s relationship with God and relationship with others in to two distinct categories.  Sacrifices and gifts brought to the altar were to atone for sins against God, in order to bring one back in to right standing with the Lord.  However, many of these people who brought large sacrifices to the altar, were guilty of refusing to seek restoration and forgiveness with their friends and neighbors.  Here Jesus reminds them to make sure they are first reconciled with those they have harmed, before they can expect to be reconciled to their God.  Also, anyone who has harmed someone without an amends is causing that person to sin if that person hates them as a result.  Jesus wants everyone to be reconciled to their earthly brothers before coming to their heavenly Father for forgiveness.
            A man named Zachaeus was a common thief and tax collector, and had been stealing from the people for many years before he met Jesus Christ.  Yet, he had an experience with Jesus that changed him.  The Lord went to be a guest in his home, and he received Jesus joyfully, and he gave his life back to God.  The scripture reads, ‘Then Zachaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

            Often times many of us seek to give things to God before we have finished making amends to those we owe.  For instance, many people tithe, but have refused to pay back delinquencies on their credit reports.  Many people attend church for years, and are active in the ministry but refuse to forgive a loved one for some past harm suffered.  Often, there are those who consider themselves to be more Holy than another person in action, but inside of their hearts, they are even more wicked than those they look down upon.  Today, if we are seeking to please God, we should replace hatred with forgiveness.  We should seek to restore anything we’ve stolen, and to ask for forgiveness where ever possible and whenever appropriate.  We should refrain from making any form of ugly statement about a person’s level of Godliness; but most of all, we should focus on our hearts, and make sure that they are free from hate, and filled with love for God, and love for others.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You now and we ask and pray that You would remove any hatred from our hearts, and help us to forgive others.  Lord, we also would like You to reveal areas of our lives where we need to make restitution and reconciliation for past harms.  Bring to our remembrance anyone who has something against us, and help us to be reconciled to them.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You; and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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