We’ve all done this. Heading to a party, or a family gathering, or a dinner out with friends and then it happens.
You get in a fight in the car on your way there. Over who knows what, but you’re arguing and you realize in just 3 minutes you’re going to have to walk inside to the party or whatever and pretend like you’re not angry with your spouse, or your significant other, or your sister, or whoever you were just yelling at.
You try to engage and act normal at the party but there’s unresolved conflict and it’s seeping out into how you act toward others. It’s so hard to even be present and enjoy yourself because there’s unresolved conflict in your heart.
You can’t just leave the anger and unresolved conflict in the car. It follows you into the party and keeps you from truly enjoying your time with others.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t even sleep well when there’s unresolved conflict in my life. I wish I never had to engage in conflict with loved ones, but we know it’s only a matter of time before most relationships face them.
Jesus starts his upside down teaching in these verses by telling us over and over in this chapter “you have heard it said . . . but I tell you . . .” and he starts with anger and unresolved conflict. He shows us again that sin is more deeply rooted than we realize by focusing not on the action with our hands, but the action within our heart.
Anger, insulting your brother or calling him a fool, makes us liable to judgment. Anger within our hearts doesn’t just affect my horizontal relationships with others; it affects my vertical relationship with God.
So much so that Jesus says anger and unresolved conflict will distract us from true worship. God cares so much about our reconciliation with others, that He actually tells us if we aren’t reconciled one to another, we need to leave the altar and go be reconciled. Anger in our hearts leads to death with our words and separation in our relationship, both with one another and with God.
Being a peacemaker means stepping into the conflict and actively engaging reconciliation. Reconciling one to another because we have been reconciled to God.
Taking Jesus at His word, we need to seek peace and repent of anger in our hearts and “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)
- What are some of the things Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-26 are a result of anger in our hearts?
- How do you handle conflict? What are some ways you can pursue peacemaking?
- Is there someone you are angry with? Do you need to reconcile? If so write out a first step in reconciling with that person.