GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 14)
The High and True Standard of God and His Kingdom is now developed by Jesus. Rather than listening to the phony teachers of the Law, the guardians of the Law who twisted Truth for their selfish interests, Jesus now lays out what standards are in harmony with a correct understanding of the Old Testament.
And the greatest sequel to this instruction, is that Jesus, in all he was and was to do, came not to set aside or annual the Law, but to fulfill it. In this following section of six antitheses, Jesus places his own authority over the misinterpretations of the religious norm of His Day…’It is said, but I say…’ (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38 and 43). Separating the counterfeit from the Real – beginning with the prohibition against Murder.
So far we have learned that the measureof God looks at the heart and not just outward actions. The warning is against anger, and it is likened to murder! In other words, anger is murder committed in the heart. Now we move to worship and reconciliation.
Matthew 5:23-2623“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 25“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. 26Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
1. Person Reconciliation Goes BEFORE Worship of God – to the Extent Within our Control. This standard of the quality of our worship and offerings to God is consistent with the Old Testament pattern, as early as rejecting Cain’s offering (Gen 4:5) and Saul’s condemnation of Samuel for the plundering the spoils of war over God’s prohibition (1 Sam 15:20-35). The point, again, is the condition of the heart. What we offer to God from the heart is more important than mere external ritual. The question is when do we do this? And the answer is NOW. Stop your worship and go and reconcile with your brother.
2. But What if Reconciliation is Rejected? Again, now this is out of the hands of the sincere pilgrim. In this case, Jesus later on will talk about the stages of efforts by the church to confront sin, and progressively, the excluding of the non-repentant congregant from the assembly. Matthew 18:15-20. We do what we can to live at peace with all men, but in matters beyond our efforts and control, there are obvious limitations. Keeping the reconciliation door open but moving on.
3. The Value of Settlement of a Dispute Verses Continuing a Dispute. This principle is at the heart of much of my work as an attorney. To continue a dispute opens up a person to unexpected or uncontrolled consequences. In most cases – I settle 9 out of 10 of my cases – better a result that neither party is thrilled with, but settles the dispute, then continuing the battle for the sake of principle, for example. This principle is important in our relationships with others, and again, measures issues of the heart more than external conduct.
I am reminded regularly of James’ admonition and instruction in the context of warning about the tongue and judgment on teachers – James 3:2. We all stumble in many ways. Do you see that? None of us should ride the self-righteous horse in this parade. The operative words are ALL and MANY. James could have said SOME and OCCASIONAL ways, but he does not. He catches all of us in our human condition, reminds us that we ALL have feet of clay, and as such, we are to tend our hearts before God and be gentle and peacemaking to those with whom we may have disputes.
This is life changing stuff! Don’t walk away from this. It is strategic to your personal maturity.
— John Moore