From the Pastor’s Pen:
“Blessed...” (Matthew 5:23-26)
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
When CoVid was at its peak, men and women would rush to the doctor at the slightest sign of a sneeze. The heightened danger demanded an immediate response. We may not have known how bad the illness would be, but that did not matter. The risk did not warrant the chance. If this is true for physical matters, how much more so for spiritual matters? However,as John Flavel notes: “They accept a cure for anything except their souls.”
Jesus draws out a cure from the deep reservoirs from the sixth commandment - “Thou shalt not murder.” The raging inferno behind murder starts in the small embers of anger. My dear Bethesda Presbyterian Church burnt to the ground in 1926 because of a small campfire. The fire was not content to stay in the camp; instead, it chose to devour everything in its path. Do we not think that small fits of anger will not cause equal harm? Anger cauterizes the soul, blinds the eyes, and scorches any obstacle in its path. Can we hold such fire in our hearts and not be burned? When anger arises in our hearts, Jesus is clear - an immediate response is necessary.
To keep the sixth commandment is not a matter of refusing to pull the trigger; to keep the sixth commandment is a matter of keeping the heart, of “resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices which tend to the unjust taking away of life.” (Westminster Larger Catechism 135) Do not let anger win the argument at the cost of your soul. We must take every effort to extinguish the fires of our own fury, but this only comes by much watchfulness and humility. With friends in the pew, with enemies in the street - guard your heart, repent of your sins, and be reconciled to one another.