Reconciliation - Solution for Murder
“Reconciliation: The Answer for Murder”
How important for the Bible student to understand the context of a passage. If you don’t believe this, consider the case of the young, over-confident preacher who announced to his congregation one Sunday: “I’m going to let the Lord direct where I should preach from today.” So he flipped through the Bible, suddenly stopped, and put his finger down on a verse. “This is the verse I will preach from today: ‘Judas threw the pieces of silver down in the Temple and went and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5). He said, “And the other text is….” He flipped through the Bible, suddenly stopped, plunged his finger down on a verse which read from John 13:27—“Whatever you do, do quickly.” So, the premise of his sermon should have been: “Go out and hang yourself—and do it quickly!”
My text is Matthew 5:23-26. But the context is so important. Right above this text, Jesus has been teaching about murder and anger. He talks about the ACT of Murder as covered by Old Testament Law, especially in Numbers 35. The basis for “evidence” in a murder case is covered. The point of the Old Testament law was to protect the priceless gift of life. Murder defiles the land. But then, Jesus went into the Christian coverage of the ATTITUDE of Murder. Jesus taught that the sin of murder is preceded by the sin of anger. Do you remember the saying, “If looks could kill”—well, the looks that can kill begin in the heart.
Anger may be the besetting sin of Christians! We have multitudes of angry people in society—even in the Church! People working closely together—misunderstandings can arise—these turn into resentments—resentments turn into anger and hatred. People who feel their rights have been threatened will lash out through angry and dangerous conduct.
So, what is the SOLUTION for Murder? How can we reduce the staggering times precious lives are snuffed out by senseless killings? America has more prisons (4,500+) and more prisoners (2,220,300) than any country in the world. I believe if you were to visit the prisons of America, you would find thousands of angry people! On “Murderers’ Row,” you would encounter a group of people who literally smolder in their hearts toward other people. If followed, Jesus’ words would reduce our prison population unbelievably—RECONCILIATION!
Note the shocking, sudden transition 0f verse 22 into verse 23! Jesus has been talking about how anger can send a person into the judgment and hell fire, and then He says, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar….” From hell fire and murder to the House of God into a WORSHIP SCENE! Jesus pictures a man approaching the altar with his sacrifice. He tries to merge his mind and heart with God—to think about God and God’s goodness and greatness. Suddenly, a thought flashes through the mind of the worshiper of an unresolved conflict: “Your brother has something against you…” God has spoken to a man’s heart and has revealed an instance that is blocking fellowship between Him and the worshiper.
The first step in reducing the murder population is RECONCILIATION to God. When a man is born physically, he is born under control of the “works of the flesh” that includes hatred, wrath, strife, and murders. A person will not be peaceable until he has the Prince of Peace in his heart. Then those “works of the flesh” can be turned into the “Fruit of the Spirit” which include love, peace, and gentleness (Gal. 5). So we enter the Sanctuary and have a personal experience with almighty God and He reveals our fault of anger. God will not accept our worship and we cannot enjoy His presence—as long as we have anger in our hearts. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, He will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18
Note God’s priorities: He wants “us” before He wants “ours.” In other words, our relationship and fellowship with God comes first. Our offerings and our gifts are not accepted unless our hearts are right. So, the first step to reduce the population of murderers is to lead them to the altar where God can speak to them, humble them, and show the error of their ways. We should RECONCILE with people, not kill them!
The next scene is that of a COURTROOM SCENE (VV.25-26). Disagreements can happen and are often settled in court. The Bible teaches that the Christian should try to avoid going to court at all costs. 1 Corinthians 6 says we should not put our lives into the hands of the courts which are unsaved and unwise. But, rather, we should endeavor to settle out of court, to RECONCILE! Once we are convinced something is wrong between us and someone, we should be RECONCILED to that person. The order is “Vertical” (to God) and then “Horizontal”(toward man). “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7).
There are several features of the RECONCILIATION that Jesus teaches:
- 1. Initiative. In settling disagreements, the initiative should always be taken by the Christian. It should be automatic that the Christian makes the first move to RECONCILE. The Christian should be Christlike: he has the new nature, he has a cleansed conscience, and the Spirit speaks to him. It ought to be a given that God’s child acts like Jesus—leave your gift and go to the injured person. Whoever is the most spiritual will begin the RECONCILIATION.
- 2. Intimacy. Do you know what happens most times at church when there are disagreements? One tells people and the other one tells people,,,they gather their sides,,,the church is all upset and divided. Biblically, that is not to happen. Note v. 24: “be reconciled to your brother.” Settling conflict is a family affair, a personal and intimate happening. Remember, we are “family” at church! Settling conflict through RECONCILIATION should be a time of admission, confession, and reconciliation.
- 3. Immediacy. Verse 25 presents a situation where someone is being taken to court over a grievance. We are commanded to settle BEFORE REACHING COURT, if at all possible. The Bible says “agree QUICKLY,” because if the issue reaches the court, there will be no mercy (v.26). The principle here is: do not let misunderstanding fester and develop into anger and murder! If you were bitten by a poisonous snake, you would not “lollygag” around while the poison killed you. The three most important words in marriage next to “I love you” are “I am sorry.”
Hebrews 12:14 says for us to “pursue peace with all men, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble and by this many become defiled.” If we do not pursue RECONCILIATION quickly, the situation will become enflamed and hardened and more trouble will come.
- · How many churches could have been spared the humiliation before the world of a split or division---if only someone would have said, “I’m sorry.” Reconcile!
- · How many marriages could have been saved and divorces avoided if there had been a spirit of RECONCILIATION? Pride and unforgiveness have kep spouses from humbling themselves.
- · How many murders could have been prevented if one of the enflamed parties had offered an immediate offer of RECONCILIATION? In the Hopkinsville, Kentucky, area, around the first of August, 2016, a man (65 years of age) stabbed to death his two sisters (ages 62 and 69). His sisters! Facts later showed their mother had died and there was an argument over the inheritance. Stabbed his SISTERS!! Are you telling me, there could not have been RECONCILIATION!! There has been many a fight around a casket.
Illustration: Jim Elliott and the Auca Indians….Jim’s wife, Elizabeth, carrying on the RECONCILIATION.
Illustration: the “Christ the Redeemer” statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro. How the athletes from 200 countries have been looked over by Christ. That 92’ armstand seems to say, “Come to Me. RECONCILE!”