27 January, 2019 – The Lord presents the first of the six examples of the righteousness of the children of God in Matthew 5:21-26. The interpretation of commandment ‘You shall not murder’ cannot be limited to its ‘letter’, and doing so would be to define it in a way that helps us to justify ourselves only. We see this kind of heart in believers very often. A good example is the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19 who asked the Lord what things he must to do to get eternal life. But when Jesus tells him that to have eternal life means to have the same heart the Father has towards us – to live a life of sacrificial love and self-emptying, which we call the gospel – he leaves sad, unable to follow Jesus because of his self-righteousness.
Jesus says the command ‘You shall not murder’ must cause us to examine our hearts deeply whether we have fulfilled its spirit not only its letter. And so the command includes anger, contempt, arrogance and everything else that is not love towards a brother or sister. God’s will for us is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, so we must always examine not only our acts and words, but our hearts. Are we one with Christ who humbled and emptied himself for sinners? Are we one with Christ who hated the sin and took it upon himself to destroy in order to save the sinner?
Apostle John says in 1 John 3:19-22 to test whether we belong to the truth and set our hearts at rest in God’s presence. If my heart condemns me, if I have not done all that is in my power to reconcile with a brother who has something against me, I can have no confidence to come to him and leave my gift on the altar. I must quickly go and make it right with my brother as far as it depends on me, knowing that God desires mercy not empty sacrifice, knowing that to obey is better than sacrifice. Only then I will know that I truly belong to him, and my life pleases him and glorifies him, because I live with the same heart towards my brother that Christ had towards me.