God and People Intertwined
by Pastor Dave Mann
In Matthew 5-7, we find the Sermon on the Mount, which is Jesus’ ethical teachings, i.e. how we ought to live with each other. Jesus does not intend these chapters to be a means of salvation, as though we could possibly live up to these standards 24/7. But he is teaching us that this is what life looks like when we are truly in a relationship with the Lord by his grace. Because we are eternally grateful for what Jesus has done for us, we will find the Holy Spirit at work in our lives leading us consistently toward what we find in the Sermon on the Mount.
Verses 21-22 state clearly that God not only wants us to live by the mere letter of the Law, which prohibits murder, but he also wants to shield us from the underlying negative attitudes — the anger, the hatred toward others that leads in the direction of murder. Even the attitude of writing people off as though they didn’t matter — Raca!—is a sinful attitude that Jesus includes in the category of murder.
Verses 23-26 succinctly link our relationship with the Lord with our relationships with people. If you are on your way to the altar, doing your due diligence to enliven your relationship with God, and then you remember that something isn’t right between you and another person, that mental experience of recall is the nudging of the Holy Spirit. It’s as though the Spirit is saying, “Do you want to get right with God? Start by getting right with your brother or sister.”
The Christian life is not only about nurturing a healthy relationship with the Lord; it’s not just about me and God. A key piece of our relationship with the Lord is our relationships with other people who are created in the image of God. The Apostle John, who was “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” wrote in his first epistle (1 John 3:16) “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Our relationships with people are intertwined with our relationship with God.
Lord Jesus, the author and epitome of love, I pray that your love would take deeper and deeper root in my heart. Shield me from falsely justifying my anger and resentment against others as though they are always the ones who are at fault and not me. Come, Holy Spirit, and lead me in the way of true love in Jesus’ name. Amen