21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.Matthew 5:21-22
Jesus pushes the application of the law into the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hatred in your heart breaks the sixth commandment. He is not equating how heinous the act is, 1st degree murder is worse than a spiteful thought in degree, but they are both condemned by the law, and that angry thought will come under the judgement of God. We are given 3 terms here that are worth explaining. First anger, which we understand, the second one is the transliteration Raca, which we do not know exactly what it means, but most agree it is equivalent to calling someone stupid. It is a scornful term coming from a place of pride. And lastly “Thou fool” is passing moral judgement on someone, despising or detesting someone from a place of bitterness and hatred. The Westminster catechism teaches well that the sixth commandment not only condemns the taking of a life, but also requires us to preserve life so far as we are able. So taking Jesus application here, that does not just mean pulling your neighbor out of the water if they are drowning. It also applies to how you think about your neighbor. Do you look down on your neighbor in your pride? Is it easy for you to get annoyed at someone when they screw up, how about when they inconvenience you? Do you take personal offense? Are you holding on to that offense with bitterness?
Call these thoughts what God calls them. Annoyance, frustration, personal offense, are euphemisms for little bits of anger in your heart. Instead of these evil thoughts we ought to think life unto our neighbors, we ought to think of how to bless them and their family. This does not need to be in the form of major action. Just like a hateful thought is sin so turning your face toward your neighbor with a loving thought is obedience. So, confess frustration, annoyance, bitterness, quickly. And do it today, for if you let it be, it will grow deceiving you more and more as it grows. These thoughts fester if left alone and can ruin marriages, families, and communities. Instead of growing together in love you will be shrinking apart in hate.
Zach Browning – November 26, 2023