“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
I want to begin this little reflection in saying that I skipped ahead a few verses. Matthew is the most “Jewish” of the four Gospels so we see a lot of Jewish themes and practices within the text. Jesus is continuing the Sermon on the Mount by taking teachings of Moses from the Old Testament and commanding people to not only observe them but to do better. This is a common theme throughout the rest of chapter 5, and Chapters 6 and 7.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you have siblings, you have fought with them once or twice in your life. We sometimes fight with our fists and we sometimes fight with our words. Young and old alike siblings do fight. I am of course no exception to that rule as my brothers will attest to. Neither are my kids unfortunately. Of course fighting isn’t limited to only siblings. Sometimes kids fight in school. Sometimes parents fight. Sometimes grown men and women fight in public. Tragically in the most extreme of situations this can lead to the loss of a life. More common than not though is that this fighting remains verbal. Words are said. Feelings are hurt. Reputations can be lost. All over words.
We should be mindful though we can kill a person not just through physical death but we can kill their reputations, their livelihoods, and even their relationships with others through our words. While yes hateful words can be and often times are exchanged with others who are close to us in the heat of the moment; we can also for no good reason can say mean and toxic things these days from behind our screens in the comments box or an inflammatory text message. Rumors, lies, and misinformation that ruin peoples lives are equal to killing them in some respects. Why do people go about doing this except to air someone’s dirty laundry publicly?
Anger is going to happen. But privately work out your anger with who you are angry with, not in front of the world. It serves no purpose other than to potentially ruin someone’s life or kill their reputation. As the old saying goes, every time you point your finger there are three more pointing back at you. The word “Raqa” is a derogatory Aramaic word that amounts to ‘idiot’ or ‘imbecilic’. Jesus said if we were going to call each other names they would be brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of the day and held in judgement. We will be held in judgement by God someday for all that we say someday too.
So let’s not spread lies, rumors, innuendos about people. Let’s be kind to everyone, even in the comment’s box. Let’s take up our differences with others in person and work them out with one another. A little kindness never hurt anyone. Let’s all just remember that someday everything we say in our lives will be scrutinized by the ultimate court. We can either take our chances with God, or we can repent and seek His forgiveness.