THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF SACRIFICE IN SEEKING RECONCILIATION
In Matthew 5: 21–24 the Lord immediately establishes the arena of judgement in which he alone will sit to examine. In contrast with the act, the Lord considers the mind and spoken word as if it were the deed already performed. The Lord had said in verse 17 that he had come to “fulfil the law”. Its fulfilment, he states in another place, rested in one’s undiminished love of God who “loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins”. The disciple, in thankful response under trial, makes plain the Father’s character by “loving one another” as the Father loved us, who “while we were enemies were reconciled to God by the death of his son”. This knowledge strengthens one’s faith so that under trial we are able to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:37, 38; 1 John 4:10, 11; Romans 5:10; 1 Peter 2:20–24).
Anger is primarily the displacement of the love of God from our minds, a wilful disregard of what God has done for us in Christ. If anyone has reason to be angry because of one’s rights being violated, it is Yahweh. If anyone has the right to call transgressors “thou empty and worthless one”, it is Yahweh. If anyone has the right to say “thou fool”, it is Yahweh. The apostle Paul reminds us, “You that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works yet now has he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:21–22).
If we through God’s grace have been so constituted, how can we manifest a mind that is of the world, the angry, abhorring, vengeful mind of the children of disobedience? From where then does adultery of the mind arise; from the mind of God or from the spirit of this world? From where does an angry, unforgiving, intolerant, unmerciful, irreconcilable spirit arise? Is it from friendship with God or friendship with the world? James states, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust and have not: you kill and desire to have… You fight and war….” By so doing the minds of these brethren were joined with the world and James calls them, “adulterers and adulteresses”! “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?”(James 4:1–4). Paul adds, “that all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice: And be kind one to another tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
The Lord has called us to do this because Yahweh has first reconciled and forgiven. We can love because Yahweh first loved us. The gift we therefore bring to the altar of Christ (Matthew 5:23–24) is that which God has already first given to us by way of example, as set forth in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. If that gift which by our acknowledgement is provided by God, then it can only be received by God if we are reconciled towards those who have “something against us”. The Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in seeing his disciples upholding their rights; this is not the example he left us to follow, but rather have we done all in our power to heal, forgive and be reconciled? There may be in our brother’s or sister’s mind an enmity that we know of, that has caused them to have “something against us” and it may stand in the way of their salvation. It does not matter therefore whether our actions in causing this enmity were right or wrong, because “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life”—that is, his resurrected life in which we are commanded to walk in newness of life, following his example (Romans 5:10; Romans 6:4: 1Peter 2:20–24).