January 14 (Matthew 5:21-22 NIV)
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.
Just as our righteousness before God involves our relationship with Him, our overall righteousness demands that we be at peace with our brothers and sisters. Jesus began talking about the prohibition against murder in the physical sense and used that as a springboard to speak against the attitudes of the heart that foment such killing. Expressions of anger and contempt demean others and indicate a lack of respect for them. Those attitudes are soul killing and incur just as much displeasure from God as actual physical murder.
While comments like that might seem to be part of the natural interplay among many people, especially in today’s world,the problem is that those kinds of words hurt, even when they’re jokes. Too many people take even joking comments to heart, killing a little bit more of their souls each time and causing them to feel worthless. Should they mention or show their concern, they’re berated for not getting that it was a joke and they feel even more worthless. Their souls are destroyed for the sake of a few laughs.
If we believe Jesus and realize that such comments are a serious issue, what should we do? Is there anyone to whom we can say these kinds of things? After long and careful thought, I believe that it’s acceptable to talk like that to people who aren’t included in the love talked about in John 3:16. If you’re trying to figure out who that is–stop. God’s offer of grace extends to all people. Since that’s true, perhaps we should learn to speak about and exemplify His grace to all, especially to those who seem to need it the most.
Lord, let my words and my deeds toward others reveal Your grace and love. May all those I meet know that they have experienced Your grace through me.