The last few weeks, the decision to choose Love or Hate has been a hot topic in our community and nation. We have heard everyone’s opinions regarding this topic on social media and in local news. Hearing the same things over and over can make anyone who hears that same thing again let it blow past them. It is something that is easy to do, but is rarely something good. Recently, I have decided to begin reading from the book of Matthew and there are several verses and sections I knew and had heard all my life, but this time they took me by surprise. I found myself saying “Wow! I had no idea that was in the Bible.”
Matthew 5:21-26 says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus starts off by giving some common sense information and using the example from the Ten Commandments which condemns murder, or we will be liable to judgement. Then He continues to add that anyone who is angry with his brother or friend will also be judged. The part that really shocked me is when Jesus states that if anyone says, “you fool, [you are] in danger of the hell of fire.” This could be interpreted as any one of us snapping out in anger, calling someone an idiot, or labeling others with any derogatory title. Jesus wants us to love others so much He says if there is conflict with someone else, go and resolve the problem before offering yourself in worship.
What Jesus says about judgment
Just a few chapters later, in Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus comes back to the subject of loving others, saying, “Judge not, that you be not judged.2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” These two verses blew my mind. Judging others is easy and comfortable. We can do it in our heads, so nobody hears it, or go so far as to tell other people what we are thinking. This can make us feel good about ourselves when we slander others behind their backs, because by degrading others we feel justified in our own actions.
God is perfect holy perfect and eternal. If we are going to measure who is better than who, comparing the best person in the world to God is like comparing the size of the Empire State Building to the vastness of space. Utter nonsense. No matter how impressive the Empire State Building is, the difference in size is still infinite. If we can judge others so harshly and say such toxic things, how much more could God judge us? When God says He will judge us as we judge, it is an immense act of grace because every human deserves eternal condemnation. Our petty gossip and slander is completely out of place. We ought to pay attention to the planks in our own eyes because God is the measure of all things.
Love or Hate – What can we do about it?
Being annoyed and irritated is easy for all of us, but it does not prove anything to hate or remain in anger. The truth is that it takes a far stronger person to love than to hate. God takes what we say seriously. He responds to any derogatory remarks by saying we are in danger of Hell when we engage in this type of behavior. We have all judged others in our thoughts and words, in turn bringing judgement upon ourselves. God has every right to wipe the world clean and start over, but He does not. Every second we are alive is a nearly infinite fountain of grace pouring out of His heart. He does not want to hurt or punish us, but He wants to love and reward us. Because of this, we must live our lives to be a bright light and love everyone around us no matter what we feel.
As you finish reading this, I challenge you to start today. Right now, ask God for help to express love instead of hate or anger. It is challenging, but I know, according to the promises in Scripture, will completely change your life.