Never before in the history of the United States have we seen the depth of division we have experienced in the last few years. People stand on one side of the political spectrum or the other and hurl shameful insults and accusations at one another. Social media exasperates the situation; making it possible for people to make their thoughts known far and wide, often saying things to each other that they would never say to face to face. Friendships have ended and family relationships have been strained to the limit.
By way of the Internet we learn of news and views at break neck speed, often seeing the political reactions as quickly as the events themselves unfold. Social media allows people to share their views about such things on a worldwide stage once reserved for the political elite. And not all of us stating our views do so with the tact and discretion that those trained in political savvy might use, therefore our comments may seem harsher and less judicious, eliciting strong reactions from one another. We often see the words “hate speech” getting thrown around.
Maybe politics or social issues aren’t your thing; but if you’re honest wouldn’t you have to admit to feeling harsh, judgmental, or angry at someone in your sphere of influence, perhaps a coworker or a neighbor? I would hazard to guess all of us have harbored feelings of ill will toward someone for one reason or another. And whether our judgmental attitudes and/or anger is freely expressed across the world wide web, or via other avenues, or just stored up in our hearts, few of us have actually manifested these strong feelings into actual physical violence such as assault or murder. Most of us have the self-control to restrain our feelings from becoming actions, but does that clear us of wrong doing?
Jesus said, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22) These are very strong words from our Savior. Clearly, it is not God’s plan that we treat each other poorly, or foster hatred towards each other. God’s desire and his standard are so much higher.
The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, captured the meaning of Jesus’ words quite well when he wrote, “The law of God is spiritual; it touches the emotions, the thoughts, the desires, as well as the words and actions of men. I have within me what would desire his death, and what is that, after all, but murder in the heart?” You see, it is the internal attitude that the law actually prohibits, so when our attitudes slip into the judgmental, when the words we speak (or type) are harsh or hateful, when we start to call each other names, we become just as guilty as if we had committed murder. That is what God’s law says and that is what Jesus taught.
And with that standard in mind, are we not being disingenuous if we claim we are not guilty of murder? For who among us would claim we have never had hateful, angry, or judgmental feelings towards another? “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8) And this, then, is a perfect example of why we need Jesus Christ in our lives. Because if we have harbored a hateful or judgmental attitude towards another, and we must all admit we have, we are guilty of sin. And the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). So we all need a Savior!
However, while our sin leads to death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). And that gift is available to all of us, no matter how guilty we are. And it is not hard to obtain, either, we simply must recognize and admit our need, then recognize and accept that Jesus is our solution. For “if you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) So if you haven’t already, why not make today the day you accept God’s free gift?
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