If the first thing you do in the morning, after you have your quiet time, is to watch the news, then you know you are bombarded with stories of people who have no idea how to get along. Whether it is a shooting at the hand of an angry employee, an Amber alert from a noncustodial parent taking their child, or political conflict. The violence stems from anger, lack of commitment, or not seeing the person for who they are. Relationships make the world go or they make t spin out of control.
Let’s take a look at some things Jesus said about relationships. This is a long section of scripture. But we will cover it quickly by hearing what Jesus said about relationships.
This passage of scripture has been called the Six Antitheses. We are going to look at five of them today. One on divorce we will look at later. Six times Jesus says – “You have heard it said, but I say.” Notice that Jesus said “you have heard it said.” What is heard is not necessarily what God said. People want to know what the law says. Not necessarily what God expects or calls us to do. On the surface the 10 Commandments are fairly easy to follow. At face value that is. If all God wanted was for us to follow those 10 laws and no others, it could be accomplished with a checklist. No other God, of course not. No idols, they don’t fit my decor anyway. Don’t curse using God’s name, never. Go to church, almost perfect. Honor my parents, I’m going to mom’s house today. No adultery, same spouse for 50 years. Don’t steal, never have never will. Don’t lie about someone, I don’t even get involved with other people. Don’t want what others have, they want what I have.
The truth is if this is how most people look at the 10 commandments. But that is not the intent of these commandments. They are foundational. They help us relate to God and they help us relate to others. But they are a starting point. They are not a path to salvation. They are not 10 easy steps to an easy life.
If you are reading the Bible through and you read about the 10 commandments you might think this God thing is pretty easy. Here is all I need to do. I can do that. But wait until you get to Deuteronomy and see that God calls us to love Him calling us to continual obedience. Now that is a different story. It is a different story because God’s Word speaks to much more than a simple “do this, this way.” It is a growing relationship that He wants from us. Because the religious leaders tried to make obedience the goal rather than a relationship with God they led people to follow the law to the T but forgot that God’s laws were to help us live in relationship in the world God placed us in. Follow this law and God will be happy. This is what Jesus is talking about in this passage. You have heard that in order to be seen as righteous all you have to do is this. Jesus says, that is not what we intended.
Understand Your Anger
Matthew 5: 21 “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.’ 22 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.
Have you ever murdered anyone? I didn’t think so. How about so angry that you wanted to? Maybe? Let Jesus clarify for us today. Jesus says have been angry, called names or attacked someone’s character? These could be precursors to murder. They are sure the way to end a good relationship and hurt character.
*Angry- a festering anger- Think about the story of Cain and Able. Cain had a festering, lingering anger because he tried to worship halfheartedly. His anger festered long enough that God warned Cain before he murdered his brother. Make it right don’t fight.
*Good-for-nothing – I am so angry that I want to get even. I will get even by attacking your character. It is insulting another’s character. We see this a lot in politics where politicians assassinate each other’s character in front of people who matter to them. It happens at work too. Someone wants a promotion that you want. You are angry so you start a lie or you question that person’s character to your boss. Children say it this way, “They are so mean. I don’t want to be their friend. I’m going to telly my friends not to be friends with her.”
*You fool – This is name-calling but it is more, it is devaluing them. It is how Military leaders trained recruits at one time. You gave the enemy names that dehumanized them. Kraut, Jap, Towel head, dogs. When you start naming your enemy it is easy to hate them and desire bad to fall on them. By our labels we say they don’t need to live. Well at least they need to be dead to me.
In verse 23, Jesus begins to talk about offering sacrifices. What is that about. Well, Jesus couples, being angry at people with presenting an offering before a Holy God, who created everyone and loves those He created. If you are before God, confessing your sins and yet you value God’s people as useless how can God accept your confession? This is at the heart of what Jesus is talking about. How can you pray for someone if you are angry enough at them, that you wish they were dead or you wished they were absolutely out of your way? You can’t. How many others will fall into the “they are worthless” category in your life? Understand your anger and figure out how to love and care for those who incur your anger, as God does. For He does you both the same.
Value People As Family
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Value your commitments but value others as family. The standard was to get married and don’t violate your trust with your spouse. Jesus took it a step farther. Don’t look at other people as potential sexual partners. Paul addresses this to Timothy in I Timothy 5:1-3. Treat older men as fathers. Younger men as brothers. Older women as Mothers and Young women as sisters.
See people as family or at least people you want in your family. This is helpful before you’re married as well as after you are married. The best people to marry are good friends of yours. Someone who you understand and who understands you. Now the standard is, can this person I’m looking at meet my sexual needs and desires. Anyone can do that. That is why there are so many pedophiles and homosexual. It feels good so there is nothing wrong with it. It is best if that kind of thinking is discarded before one even starts to date. That is not how God planned it. If you never see a person as a sexual partner you will never stoop to adultery.
Value the opposite sex as family. When others are seen as a means to an end, we cease to see them as God sees them. God sees them as someone whom He loves and someone whom He wants to join His family. This is essential for a marriage but it is also essential for each of us to have proper respect for others that we meet day in and day out. Anger keeps us from loving others into the kingdom of God. Lust keeps us from seeing people as God sees them. It keeps us from having an interest in them even knowing God. Anger festers and so does lust. Avoid them both and do better with Jesus’ help.
Say What you Intend to do and Do It
Matthew 5: 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
With this passage of scripture we get the impression that only God can make promises. He has made many to us. He is able to keep those promises. We struggle with commitment.
Quakers, as a whole, don’t make oaths to anything. In court of law, they won’t. We are not God and therefore we cannot keep what we promise because we don’t have the resources or the power. A promise would just be us putting God as our collateral an he has not given us permission to do that. Another thing about promises an vows. You know that most of our promises are given when we don’t do what we said we were going to do and we were caught not following through. The next time we have to promise so we are believed. A promise should be statement of what we will do, not a contract for our failure in the past.
Jesus says let your yes be yes and your no be no. Do what you say and don’t do what you can’t do. Instead of, “God I promise this time,” just make your commitment an make a plan. If we follow that plan we will keep our commitment to the Lord. It will look like this: Lord I’m sorry for what I’ve done. Please forgive me. From now on I will not put myself in that position again where I will have to lie. I will be honest with my spouse, my boss or my parent whatever the case may be. I will begin to spend more time with you to learn Your Word and how to hear You speak to me. Do what you say you are going to do. Yes, you may fail, but don’t let your promise a veiled attempt to convince someone that you won’t fail. Just do things that minimize the chance of failure. Do it with Jesus’ help.
Reflect Jesus- Don’t be a Mirror
“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.” 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
Someone has said, “If we practice an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, we will live in a world with sightless and toothless people.” If ‘an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth’ was the only way to respond to anything anyone did to us, that is exactly the kind of world we would live in.
This law was used in the legal system for several nations. Not only with the Hebrew nation. It’s intent was to prevent retaliation that only escalates. It came about because some took both eyes and both legs being poked in the eye or scratched someone’s leg. So when a case was brought to the judge, the settlement was to provide for the one with the damage by the one who caused the damage. But it is much easier to say the law says I get to do to the person what they did to me. This interpretation and practice so missed the point.
We see this mentality escalated in the Untouchables from 1987. The character played by Sean Connery is talking to Kevin Costner, Elliot Ness. He says, here is hoe you stop Al Capone. They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. Jesus wouldn’t do that. He would try to redeem the situation. To make it better. He would try to understand. He would act in a loving way. He wouldn’t try to put someone in their place. He wouldn’t try to make them look bad.
In Proverbs we see that a “kind word turns away wrath.” That is what Jesus is telling us to do. This is not referring to someone physically attacking you. You can defend yourself but you can’t kill them just because they tried to kill you. Unless you have no choice. Someone cuts you off in traffic don’t go and cut them off. Someone is on your tail, don’t slam on your brakes. At a family gathering someone tells something you did when they were suppose to keep it a secret, don’t tell a a=secret about them. Figure a way to turn away wrath; to solve the problem. To make a situation better. Build relationships rather than destroying them. Reflect Jesus rather than mirroring what was just inflicted on you. Can you deescalate a situation rather than putting more fuel on the fire? If someone does something to you, pause a few moments before you respond. What would be a response that would help? Knee jerk reactions usually end up hurting someone’s knee. It is their heart of yours. Reflect Jesus.
Every Life Matters
I like that Jesus ended this section with this:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
I have seen this great statement (notice the sarcasm) shared on Facebook many times. Sometimes by people who know Jesus. It goes like this… “If you are nice to me I will be nice to you.” It makes me want to mirror what I just saw and tell them that is the dumbest statement ever. Jesus said, “Anyone can act that way.” The way to build relationships is by loving others even when they want to hurt you. Can you see people as God sees them or can you only see them as rotten sinners? If you can’t, let Jesus remind you that before He drew you to Himself that is exactly how we were. Sinners in need of a Savior. Life is hard for everyone. Maybe they haven’t had anybody really love them like Jesus does. Maybe they need someone like you to help them see how much Jesus loves them.
Have you ever heard of Daryl Davis? He is a blues musician who claims to have 200 KKK robes that were given to him. He is black and he goes out of his way to find KKK members and then develops a friendship with them. He doesn’t go to KKK meetings to do this, but finds them other ways. The friendship that happens convinces the Klan member that their actions are based on wrong info and understanding. He keeps the robes to remind himself that he is making a difference. I don’t think this man is a Christian, but he is making a difference. Dear Christian, what kind of a difference can you make for the Kingdom of God?
Every life you touch matters to the Kingdom of God . You may be the first real look at Jesus that some people have ever had. People matter to Jesus and therefore they need to matter to you. Anyone can be nice to people who are nice. I bet you met a few people this week that you would have loved to give them a piece of your mind. I hope you didn’t but this week I hope you give them a sample of Jesus’ love.
Challenge: I used this verse last week but it works here too. The Golden Rule- Matthew 7:12 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Understand your Anger Value People as Family Say What you intend to do and do it Reflect Jesus- Don’t be a Mirror Every Life Matters
Work on your relationships. God gives them to us for life’s enjoyment. Jesus gave His life so that we can have a relationship with Him for all eternity. There is room for so many more. Make your relationships count for the Kingdom of God.