Prepare to Listen. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 5:21-26
21You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; 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. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come 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. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Six times in chapter 5 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said… but I say unto you.” Each one highlights what he meant by a righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees (5:20). Jesus “takes the commands of the law and shows how they provide a blueprint for a way of being fully, genuinely, gloriously human.” He begins with the 6th commandment, “you shall not murder” (Ex 20:13), and adds to it. Murder includes anger (that harms another) and insults (calling people derogatory names). We’ve all sinned, committed murder.
So, what do we do now? Two things, says Jesus. Be reconciled and make friends with the enemy (our accuser). Reconciliation is so urgent that Jesus insisted it take precedence over worship. Leave the worship service, meet your enemy, the one you’re angry with or are insulting, and make friends. Then go back and worship with the community. “The point is that you must live, day by day, in such a way that when you come to worship there is no anger between you and your neighbour, your sister, your brother. Impossible? Jesus implies that it isn’t, now that he is here to show the way.”
It’s a necessary way to live because if we don’t reconcile and make friends, we’ll never get out of the prison it puts us into until we’ve ‘paid the last penny,’ Jesus warns. We don’t have to live as prisoners. Reconcile and make friends.
Why do you think Jesus insisted that reconciliation take precedence over worship?
Respond in Prayer
Making friends with some people is easy, Lord. But there are some who make it hard. Give me the grace and courage to be quick to reconcile and make friends with an enemy. Amen.
Live Obediently. Make friends with you enemy.
 Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone Part 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2004, p. 43.
 Ibid, p. 44.
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Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.