Pastor Steve Mechem
Matthew 5:43-48 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I have had the privilege of officiating well over 100 weddings in my ministry. And in easily over 90% of those weddings, I have read, as part of the ceremony- one particular scripture passage. If you are married, this passage may have been read at your wedding.
Was 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, read as part of your wedding ceremony?
Was 1 Corinthians 13 not read as part of your wedding ceremony?
You do not remember what was read at your wedding ceremony?
In the wedding ceremonies I perform in which 1 Corinthians 13 isn't read, it is because the the couple choose not to use it. Occasionally they have another reading in mind, but usually, if they choose not to use 1 Corinthians they will say that they don’t like it, that it is trite, or that it is overused.
Gotta tell you, 1 Corinthians 13 is anything but trite. It is deeply profound.
And how can you not like this amazing passage,
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Wow. Amazing stuff.
A little exposition of the passage-
First, and most importantly, Love is the priority of life. If you are eloquent, wise, psychic, full of faith, giving, sacrificing, but don’t practice love, its all for naught. All that other stuff means nothing if love isn’t your motivation, your modus operadi. If you don’t love, then you are simply spinning your wheels.
And then, Paul gives a practical, sensible, easy to grasp description of how love works.
-People who love never give up even when life gets inconvenient or hard.
-People who love care more about other people’s needs than their own agendas.
-People who love don’t want what they don’t have.
-People who love don’t or brag or show off.
-People who love will not make themselves the center of attention,
-People who love reject narcissism,
-People who love keep themselves under control,
-People who love don’t keep score,
-People who love don’t take joy in other people’s failures,
-People who love celebrate the truth, wherever it is found,
-People who love strive to understand the weirdness around them.
-People who love trust.
-People who love always look for the best in others,
-People who love never look back, but keep going to the end.
That, my friends, is powerful stuff.
But as a passage, 1 Corinthians 13 is quoted a lot (and should be). But with lots of use, even the most amazing of passages becomes rote. Just words you hear over and over again.
And unfortunately, when a passage is so familiar, it is in danger of losing its umph!
But 1 Corinthians 13 is worth a constant revisit.
Because as Jesus teaches us, love is the most important thing. And 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a working definition of the concept.
It has always bothered me a bit that 1 Corinthians 13 is so often thought of as a wedding passage and therefore dismissed as a description of love between a couple.
The point of 1 Corinthians 13 is not to celebrate romantic love but to describe and define the primary priority of our lives.
The love described in 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t meant to describe love in a certain situation, but love in every situation.
Which brings us to the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ immortal words about love.
Jesus is teaching and says,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;
for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus addresses the real situation of life in this passage. Many of us are taught to love those who love us and care about us and care for us, and to fear (which is the beginning of hate) those whom we don’t know and don’t understand.
This is the way of the world. Pick up any newspaper, listen to Cable news.
While there is obviously an ongoing desire for altruistic responses to the world’s problems, the reality of fear (which is the beginning of hate) often trumps our better inclinations.
people who are ethnically different than us,
people who are religiously different than us,
people of color,
people whose sexuality or gender identity is different than ours,
people who speak differently than us,
people who think differently than us,
Our fear (which is the beginning of hate) overcomes our better instincts and prejudice wins the day.
Jesus addresses that system.
So he says, “Sure, love your neighbors. But, go beyond that and love people who aren’t your neighbors, who aren’t like you and love even those you might consider an enemy. Beyond that, and going even deeper in the well of love, love those who are mean to you, who mistreat you, who cause you harm.”
Jesus doesn’t say that loving everybody we encounter, good, bad, ugly or mean is easy, he simply says “do it.” Don’t decide whether they should be entitled to your love, just love them.
As Thomas Merton, writes, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”
And by loving (1 Corinthian 13 loving) everybody you encounter you reach the rarefied air of God’s love. Jesus tells us to be perfect even as God is perfect. And he is specifically talking about loving unconditionally. The word perfect is probably not the best understanding to the Greek word. The better word is “complete.”
God is complete in God's love. It is God’s nature, it is God’s personality. God is love.
And we become complete and connected more fully to God as we learn to love. Not just loving our family, friends, fellow Christians, but learning to love those with whom we interact.
One Wednesday night, while I was leading a bible study at the church I was pastoring, a person objected to the fact that it seemed like whatever passage we looked into, we kept coming back to the idea of “LOVE.” The person’s objection was that love was one part of the story of faith. but only one part. We take love, he said, too seriously.
I disagreed. I told him I thought “love” was the story of faith. God’s love for us. Our love for God. Our love for each other. Our love for the other. Nothing in Scripture is more important than the love we discover in and through Jesus Christ.
Love is serious business .
Love brings healing.
Love opens up possibilities.
Love creates healthy relationships.
Love stands with the underdog.
Love promotes peace.
Love generates camaraderie.
Love changes the world.
Pastor Steve Mechem
Matthew 5:38-42 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
There is a Latin phrase Lex Talionis. It means “the law of retaliation.”
The law of retaliation was the earliest way people sought to work through concerns of personal and property loss, justice and vengeance.
This idea of legal and moral retaliation is originally found in Babylonian writings and is made most famous in the Hebrew bible’s command “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. The law of retaliation is intended to solve the lust for vengeance and the need for fairness in response to wrong doing.
The downside to Lex Talionis is that mercy, common sense and understanding are often subjugated in favor of revenge and punishment. As Gandhi is often credited as saying, “An eye for eye will make the whole world blind.
The upside to Lex Talionis is that justice is served without an over-abundance of judgement.
So, If a person kills your cow, you are permitted, by Lex Talionis, to take one of her cows, not 25 of her cows. Seems fair.
If a person pokes out your eye, you are allowed to poke out his eye, not both of his eyes or his eye and his ear. Sounds awful, but fair (in a strict sense).
If a person kills another person, than she will be put to death, but not tortured, and her body will not be mutilated or whatever.
Lex Talionis was intended to insure justice to the victim while providing a degree of protection to the culprit.
Through the years, as criminal justice has evolved, legal systems have developed penalties that, while not involving actually eye gouging, create punishments that fit the severity of the offense- prison sentences, fines, reparations, etc.
But still, within the system is the need to satisfy vengeance and provide recompense.
Into the conversation about justice, mercy, retaliation, vengeance and punishment comes Jesus and his radical way of thinking. “Rather than eye for an eye,” he says, “how about this?”
If you get slapped, turn your cheek.
If someone forces you to carry their stuff for a mile, carry it a second mile.
If someone takes your shirt, give them you coat as well.
N.T. Wright, in his commentary on Matthew writes, “Jesus offers a new sort of justice, a creative, healing, restorative justice. The old justice found in the Bible was designed to prevent revenge running away with itself. Better an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth than an escalating feud with each side going one worse than the other. But Jesus goes one better still. Better to have no vengeance at all, but rather a creative way forward, reflecting the astonishingly patient love of God, who wants people to shine his light into the world so that all people will see … that God’s deepest nature is overflowing love.”
This section of Jesus’ sermon on the mount illustrates one of many new ways of thinking, acting and living that Jesus' proposes to his audience.
Surely these words sounded strange or upside down to men and women who grew up in a occupied country, who were commonly mistreated by foreign soldiers, who were forced to be compliant to people they perceived as evil overlords, who were forced to pay homage and taxes to a King who not of their choosing.
Unlike the many Messiahs who had come before, these words of Jesus were not incitations to violent upheaval or the words of revolution.
I think Jesus would say that his words, while not a call to violence, were the most revolutionary words of all. Rather than violence, His words advocated unconditonal love and unbounded compassion and personal sacrifice.
He spent his ministry foretelling a kingdom that was coming into being. A Kingdom where God rules in love and where Kingdom subjects are focused on taking care of each other.
You see this teaching throughout the gospels, from that moment in Nazareth when Jesus says reads from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And then follows up the reading with the words, “Today, these words are fulfilled,”
And you see the teaching in those words from the cross on Friday, “Forgive them.”
All of Jesus’ life was dedicated to teaching a new way of living. The New is often rejected and those who were bound to keep the status quo the status quo responded to Jesus with violence and hate.
He became the target for their anger and their small mindedness.
Through a conspiracy involving church and state, Jesus was condemned and died as a sinner on a cross.
Interestingly, Jesus arrest, trial, and death gave him ample opportunity to practice what he preached, to put the Kingdom way on display.
Whereas the Messiahs who had come before stayed dead after their comeupins, Jesus remarkably came back to life.
Resurrection. Life back into his body. Standing before Mary. Walking with disciples on the road. Challenging the disciples to investigate his crucifixion wounds . Cooking fish for breakfast. Encouraging his disciples to continue the work- the work of love and grace.
Some call the resurrection a miracle.
Some call the resurrection a triumphal victory.
Some call the resurrection Salvific.
While all these things may be true, I call resurrection vindication.
Resurrection is vindication, not only of Jesus' personhood, but of his teaching- his way, one might call it the Kingdom way. You find its elements in the Sermon on the Mount, in parables and throughout Jesus’ life and ministry. And since this is Easter, and the Easter event means that Jesus’ teaching is worth hearing.
Let me try to sum up that teaching.
This is Jesus’ way …
Reflect God’s love, not just in words, but in every possible way.
Love people, even people who aren't lovable.
Live upside down and inside out- that’s the beatitude way.
Serve rather than be served.
Treat people with respect- the way you want to be treated.
Quit judging what you don’t know and haven’t experienced.
Reject vengeance and retaliation.
Embrace strangers, the left behind, the bullied, the outcast, the untouchable.
Care about the poor, the hungry, the disposesssed, the under-resourced.
Don’t be fair, be generous.
Glow with God's grace.
Wash some feet.
Quit worrying about accumulating stuff.
Don’t put things above people.
Give people a break.
Pick up the leftovers.
Keep your eyes open.
Keep your head up.
Pastor Steve Mechem
Matthew 5:33-37 New Revised Standard Version NRSV)
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Swearing is a big deal in our culture. In almost every area of life, we swear. I am not talking about using cuss words (words that have somehow been deemed to be taboo). I am talking about oath taking, vow making, swearing.
This past Friday, I was privileged to be in the 3rd floor courtroom of the Thomas F. Eagleton US Courthouse in St. Louis when Comey, now Catherine Htoo, raised her right hand with 48 other immigrants from 28 countries and swore an oath of allegiance to this country and officially becoming a citizen. Congratulations Catherine!
When a person is elected to a political office, she or he, stands in front of a judge or person in authority, places her or his hand on the religious book of their choice and swears to uphold the ruling documents by which he or she was elected.
In business settings, we make vows and oaths that are generally codified in contracts.
When we sell our home, we sign an affidavit about the soundness of the property and swear the information in the document is true.
If we testify in court, we swear to tell the truth.
When two people fall in love, they often make life long commitments to each other through their wedding vows. The couple stand before their family and friends, and before God; they face each other, wipe the nervous sweat from their faces, look into each others eyes, hold hands and say something like…
“So and so, today in the presence of God,/ our family and our friends,/ I join my life with yours./ You are my dearest love and my best friend./ I promise you my love without limits./ I look forward to God’s blessings/ as we grow together through the years/ and share all that is to come./ I vow to give and to receive,/ to speak and to listen,/ to inspire and to respond,/ and to be your refuge in times of sorrow and uncertainty./ I will be honest with you always,/ I will be faithful to you,/ and I will cherish you everyday of my life.”
These words constitute a vow as a couple swear to take care of each other for life.
Swearing oaths and making vows is a significant part of religious life as well. We have all heard of vows of poverty and vows of celibacy. And even in our church, new members make a vow to our congregation and the congregation makes a vow back.
In the right hand of fellowship service,
I say to a new member, “So in so, in the presence of God and these witnesses, do you commit yourself to Jesus Christ as Lord, and do you willingly enter into the fellowship, the joys, and the responsibilities of membership in Second Baptist Church?
And the new member responds, “By the grace of God and the support of these people, I Do!”
And the congregation is asked if they will accept So in So into this Church body.
And the congregation replies, in unison, “As members of this church, we gladly welcome you into the community of faith known as Second Baptist Church. We promise to walk with you prayerfully and compassionately, and to promote, with God’s help, your spiritual growth. Amen.”
These promises are swears, vows we make.
And in the daily walk of life, many of us swear continually. Some of us may swear like sailors, but that’s for another sermon. Many of us swear, as in make vows, in our ongoing conversation.
How many times a day to you hear somebody say something like,
“I swear to God.” or
“I swear on my children’s lives,” or
“I swear by the universe,” or
“I swear on my grandmother’s grave,”
Swearing, oath taking has been around since the beginning of language. Swearing is an effort to give more importance to what we say. It adds “umph” to our words and emphasizes our sincerity and honesty.
In a weird twist on vow taking. Swearing oaths is often a way we mask lies. The more one swears something is true, the more suspicious they become.
Interestingly, we have added phrases along the way that have in actuality become synonymous with “I swear.” We hear “believe me,” “mark my word,” “I’m telling you the truth,” “honest to goodness,” used in the same way as “I swear” is used.
Swearing, oath taking plays a significant role in the Hebrew Bible. People are always swearing by somebody or by something. There is this unusual tradition during the time of the patriarchs when people would swear something to each other by grabbing them by the thigh and saying their vow.
The Torah commends Israelites to swear a solemn pledge before God and people.
But, swearing falsely (lying) is considered a sin against God according to the Scriptural text and is dealt with harshly.
Swearing became a way of life for Jewish culture (just as swearing is a way of life for almost every other culture).
Jesus addresses the issue of swearing in the S.O.M.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”
People swear by all sorts of things, Jesus says, God, nature, buildings, cities, people. And all swearing does is set you up for failure. Because,
1) If you swear every time you say something, people will not take your vows seriously.
2) Vows are often used to shield lies. The Shakespearean adage, “methinks you protest too much” is applied to vow taking. The bigger the swear, the less credible it sounds.
3) Simple truth- sometimes the vows we make we cannot keep even if if we are completely sincere when we make them. And so we fail in our vow.
The better way, says Jesus, is let your yes be yes and your no be no. No need for extra vows or oaths. Let your “Yes” stand.
And Jesus goes further in his teaching by telling us that our words without action mean nothing. In one parable, Jesus reminds us that saying yes and then acting no is unacceptable.
Jesus reminds us that our fruit is seen in the doing, not just the saying.
Don’t swear by anything.
Let your yes be yes.
And, please oh please, Act out that yes!
The crowds on Palm Sunday, swinging their branches, laying their coats on the ground, singing hallelujah to the annoyance of the religious elite were acting yes.
They would not be stopped in their exuberant yes to the coming King and the Kingdom of love and grace!
Jesus told the detractors, “even if this crowd is quiet, the rocks themselves would be singing and dancing and cheering yes!”
We act out yes
when we worship sincerely
when we serve unselfishly
when we forgive completely
when we accept and include
when we stand with the bullied
when we wok for justice
when we show mercy
when we express grace
when we refuse to be silent
when we will not give up
when we affirm the worth and dignity of every person
We act “yes” when we follow Jesus to the cross.
Pastor Steve Mechem
Matthew 5:27-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
So, Jesus is hanging out in metro Jerusalem. After spending the early morning hours over at the Mount of Olives praying, he comes back across the Kidron Valley and enters the temple area. He sits down and begins to teach. A crowd gathers around him immediately.
As he’s teaching, a group of religious leaders break into his circle dragging a woman with them. She is terrified. More than likely, she is in someway disrobed, perhaps completely naked to shame her. The men who have forced her here let go of the woman in front of Jesus and in front of those who have come to hear him teach.
The crowd is taken aback, Jesus looks compassionately at the woman. Then, I am quite certain, with frustration and anger in his eyes, he looks at the men who brought her.
They were using this woman as a prop to trick Jesus. They say, loudly enough that everyone in the crowd can hear, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery. She was having sex with someone who was not her husband, and we caught her!”
Just an aside - how creepy are these guys as they look about through people’s windows hoping to catch a woman in the throes of passion.
Back to their words, “The Law says we should stone her to death for her actions. Jesus, What do you think we should do?”
They think they have Jesus trapped. Agree with the Law and all of a sudden, the “would be Messiah” appears to lack the compassion and grace that marks his ministry. Refute the Law, and all of a sudden, the “would be Messiah” loses his credibility as the One who comes in the name of the One who gave the Law in the first place.
Jesus will put these misogynistic thugs in their place and bring hope to this abused and shamed woman with his response. I would encourage you give it a read. John 8: 1 - 11. Its great stuff.
But the part of the story that interests me today is what is missing, or more precisely, who is missing from this event. These religious men brought this woman, caught in the very act of sex, to Jesus. Doesn’t that mean that they also caught the man in the very act of sex? Why did they just bring the woman to Jesus? Where is the adulterous man?
I have an idea. Its not in the story as told by John. I wonder if when the man and woman are caught having sex by what can only be described as the sex police, and the woman is dragged off as bait in a trap to trip up Jesus, the adulterous man is left there in that place, and after a few minutes he puts on his pants (or robe) and follows the mob as they go to Jesus. I see this man merging into the crowd, watching as Jesus responds to the woman and the religious thugs.
Perhaps he even shouts out “stone her,” and picks up a rock. I would like to think that when Jesus suggests that the person without sin throw the first stone, that he looks straight into the face of the man caught in adultery.
But back to the question, why was the woman brought before Jesus and the man was not?
The simple answer. In a male dominated, misogynistic culture, where women are considered inferior, second class citizens, where wealthy men as allowed multiple wives and numerous concubines or mistresses, where a bride is purchased for a cow and a couple of goats, where women are instructed to walk ten feet behind their husbands, what else could you expect?
The system is rigged to favor men. They have power, they make the rules, they run the culture.
Throughout history, women generally have paid for men’s wandering libidos. Sure, a man might be scolded or reprimanded for sexual activity outside of marriage, but a woman is shamed, ridiculed, devastated, and oh, by the way, can be legally stoned to death.
It is number 7 on the big list. On a Ten Commandments plaque, you will find “Thou shall not commit adultery” is number seven.
While the commandment and the consequences for breaking the commandment are the same for both men and women in the biblical text, real life works differently. The unwritten rules for men and women and sexual activity are very different.
It is fair to say that over time, the idea of adultery came to be understood primarily as a woman’s violation of the command and a woman’s point of shame. After all, men were allowed multiple wives and even a mistress or two. Thus, only the woman caught in adultery is dragged before Jesus.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares,“You have heard that it was said, Don’t commit adultery.”
The men in the crowd nod and wink. Because they think the emphasis of this command is directed toward the women in the crowd. But Jesus does not let the command rest there. He continues, “But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.”
Jesus is specifically talking to the men in the crowd at this point. This is not a generic, unisex statement. It is a sentence aimed squarely at the men. The verb used for the looker is masculine third person plural. And so the translation, “every man who looks” is right on. And the lookies are guna- the funny Greek word for woman. Jesus is saying to men- when you objectify a woman, when you think of her only as a sexual object, when you leer and ogle and be gross, you are as guilty as the adulterer! A shock wave ripples through the crowd.
Does Jesus assume only men have the problem of wandering eyes. Probably not, but he does know in a society where men set the rules and that men are the ones who have created the sex loopholes themselves.
Jesus continues to speak, “And if your right eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body go into Gehenna.”
Yikes. Chop off what? For why? These hyperbolic words of Jesus are not meant to be interpreted literally (but who knows how many people have damaged themselves physically throughout history because they took these words seriously.)
And these words are meant to be serious, just not to be understood literally.
Bottom line- The day of loopholes that give you the advantage over others is over, Jesus is saying. Don’t expect others to act in one way if you are not able to act that way yourself. It is a constant complaint Jesus has toward the religious elite of his day. Hypocrisy!
At the core of this passage in the Sermon on the Mount, it seems to me, is the idea of respect. One responsibility in all our dealings, with men or with women or with children or with folks with different pigmentation or folks from other countries or folks who practice a different religion is respect.
We don’t objectify.
We don’t prejudge.
We don't rank.
We don’t diminish.
We don't speak malice.
We don't make inappropriate or demeaning remarks.
We don’t stereotype.
We respect every person we encounter and treat them the way we want to be treated.
Pretty simple, huh.
Rev. Jerry Keeney
Matthew 5:21-26 (New Revised Standard Version)
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Pastor Steve Mechem
Matthew 5: 17-20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.