How important is unity to you? Does ministry just continue as if nothing is wrong, even when not everyone is in unity? How about in your family?
The Passage: Matt 5:21-26
The religious leaders have becoming more and more agitated with what they are seeing in Jesus’ life. He claimed to be the Messiah, and while it was undeniable that He was doing miracles that only the Messiah should be able to do, His behaviour was not in alignment with what a good Jewish Rabbi should be doing. He was doing things that was contrary to their Pharisaic law.
After appointing 12 men to be his apostles, Jesus’ first instruction to these men was to define what true righteousness is and define God’s law as God intended. He defined true righteousness:
- In relationship to God (Matt 5:3-6)
- In relationship to Man Matt 5:7-12
- In Relation to the World (Matt 5:13-16)
Jesus concludes his definition of true righteousness in Matthew 5:20: “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.
As He begins defining Gods law, he begins by redefining murder. (Matt 5:21-26)
Matt 5:22 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
Jesus says that those who have anger, or insult, or even have bitterness in their hearts toward their brother, are guilty of murder! This is so important to God that he says, “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.“ (Matt 5:23-24)
This issue of unity with our brothers is so important that Jesus says, “leave your gift at the alter, and go and be reconciled.” In the Jewish religious system, the sin offering was pretty significant. It was the foundation of maintaining peace with God. It was what brought reconciliation with God. But, Jesus said, before you can be reconciled to me, you need to be reconciled to your fellow man! You will never be at peace with God if you are not at peace with your brother!
How does this apply to ministry? If we consider ministry as our “sacrifice,” what application can we make from this?
Matt 5:25-26 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.
If the offence is big enough and left unresolved, it may result in facing the natural consequences of the offense or sin. And if it goes to that, there will be no mercy. The offended brother may press for the full extent of the law!
But, when we take responsibility for our offense, and we seek reconciliation, we show the world that God can be glorified through how we respond, even in conflict!
As we apply this to ministry, how many ministries have been shipwrecked because conflict has been unresolved, and the offended party has sought “every last penny” by spreading dissension and ugliness.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
Jesus was showing that his standard is much higher than an outward conforming to the law. Jesus was making it clear that we break God’s law in our heart, way before we even get close to carrying the act out in the flesh.
As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
- What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
How valuable is unity to me? Am I more occupied with what I can accomplish for God than I am with being unified with those I am working with? How important is it to me for Christ to be displayed in my relationships with the people around me?
- What do I need become more aware of?
James 1:19 reminds us to be “Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” How am doing at that? What am I doing to build unity in those around me?
- How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
Is there anyone that I am in disunity with? Whether they offended me, or I offended them? How and when am I going to make that right? Is there anything I need to stop doing in order to make this a higher priority?
The Power; Implement and Integrate
The power to change is in the implementation and integration. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, and develop habits that integrate those truths, we will never change.
- What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?