Breaking it Down: The Sermon on the Mount Part 4

By Jenna Walmer

 “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.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 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, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” – Matthew 5: 21-26

This passage about being angry towards another person is hard to swallow. As I digested this section of The Sermon on the Mount, I realized that so far in my readings, this may be what I struggle with the most.  You see, there are people that come along that are so mean, vile in their words and actions, which makes you think, can’t I just not love one person? We think, “I love everyone else. I show unconditional love, but this particular person is downright disrespectful.”

However, Jesus tells us to love everyone.  Anger, in this passage, refers to the bitterness that is shown toward someone.  This kind of anger is dangerous to society. It can cause emotional and mental stress, spiritual impairment, and even violence.  Anger gets in the way of loving our neighbors; therefore, we should avoid our angry thoughts and replace them with loving thoughts.

Clarence Jordan brings up a provocative point about this passage.  In his book, The Sermon on the Mount, he suggests, “If people convince themselves that the lives of others aren’t worth much, the inference is drawn that it does not matter particularly what happens to them.  They may be shot, they may be exploited or bombed, or they may be used as cannon fodder, and it’s perfectly all right.  Nations do it, of course, on the wholesale and not just one at a time. Thus, contempt, leads to a justification of murder and this makes one a murderer at heart.”  As Jordan proposes, when the value of a person is lost, ‘murder’ has essentially begun. Jesus enlightens us to the fact that it is not just enough to avoid murder, we must also avoid anger and contempt towards others as well.

Jesus also warns us that our attitude towards others reflects our relationship with God. If we love others, we love God.  If we hate others that means we probably show hatred towards God.  Broken relationships impede our relationship with God. That is why reconciling relationships is so crucial. By settling disputes in relationships, you become closer to God.

To deepen your spiritual life, start by reconciling unstable relationships instead of hiding from the problem.  Then, consciously rid your mind of angry thoughts.  Have you ever heard of the saying, “Kill people with kindness?”  Instead of ‘killing’ them, because we are pacifists, I would recommend that we start practicing kindness towards everyone, every single day. So go out into the world, and be a blessing of compassion to all of humanity.

Jenna Walmer - Palmyra COB, Altantic Northeast DistrictJenna Walmer is from Lancaster County and is currently in 12th grade. In school, she loves to research historical events. If she were to live in a specific time period, she would want to be a hippie and live in the 60s or 70s. Her favorite past times are swimming and playing her trombone. If you want to know more about her random life, follow her on twitter: @jaymarie2100

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