The Heart Matters

Gospel Message & Recording

It is a natural tendency to think we are less of a sinner than others, particularly if we are comparing ourselves to murderers, the sexually deviant, or other sins we consider “extreme” and on a category of their own. However, much we indulge in this type of thinking to sooth our conscious, we are challenged by the words of Christ.

In the gospel reading today, Jesus says that ‘if you think murders must receive judgment, then the one who is angry is also subject to judgment.’ Of course, I paraphrased the words of Christ. Nevertheless, the point is clear: if you think you are any less of a sinner than a murder, think twice, you are no different.

Practically speaking, we all know (and so did Christ) that there is a major difference between literally murdering (killing) someone and being angry. The two have starkly different consequences. Even though this is the case, Christ was attempting to demonstrate that “sin is sin.” 

First and foremost, the Pharisees and the spiritual elites of Jewish society thought that because they had kept the commandments, did all the prayers, went to the temple, they were “good people.” They had a feeling that they were not like other sinners such as murders, adulterers, or anything of that nature. During this religious snootiness, Jesus was that crusader attempting to level the playing field by showing even if you are angry with your brother (or sister) you have already committed murder. This was a sort of “slap in the face” toward the religious elites and brought to the forefront the words of the Prophet David, “no not one is born righteous” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Secondly, Jesus was teaching that it matters what’s in our “heart.” The heart in the Bible represents our real intentions. It’s sort of like the “real you.” This is where our feelings and emotions reside. In many cases, our actions, which we display at work, church or even at home, might not be who we really are. Outwardly we might show holy and innocent exterior, but in our heart, we are jealous, lustful, prideful, angry and greedy. Jesus is saying that this matters. Simply put, sin is not only what you do but also how you feel and the emotions that we allow to live in our heart. Jesus warns us of this for another reason. What is in our heart will eventually manifest itself. You can’t fake being nice for too long. Eventually, that anger will turn into hate, hate into violence, and violence into death. Take for example marriage. Physical abuse doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, the actual physical act itself might be one or two occurrences. However, anger, unresolved, which permeates in the heart for a long time, turn into physical abuse. This is why Jesus equates murder and anger as one and the same.

If you think for one moment you are a good person, or if you compare yourself to others and find yourself feeling as though you are a good Christian, you are the person that Jesus is talking to today in the Gospel reading. Repent. Submit to Christ and realize that you are a great sinner and that you are not too far from being a murder or adulterer. In fact, realize you are the murderer and adulterer.

Discussion Questions

  1. Simply put, sin is not only what you do but also how you feel and the emotions that we allow to live in our heart. Comment.
     
  2. Do feel that how you act and how you feel in your heart are contradictory?
     
  3. Do you struggle with your feelings or emotions, for example, anger, lust, jealousy? If so what can you do to control your feelings or emotion so that it does not manifest into actions?