Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 2 of “Fan or Follower – Value Life” (LISTEN HERE).
Matthew 15:18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Hands only do what the heart drives them to do.
Motivational speakers don’t speak to hands, they speak to influence the heart so that the hands can be more productive or skillful at their tasks.
The heart is a powerful part of our body. We think of it as just the “pump” of our blood throughout our bodies. We think of it as a physical organ, vital to the sustenance of life. However, the heart is also an emotional and electronic impulse center, perhaps at times more powerful than the brain. Our mind provides rational thought, our heart provides emotional feelings. Jesus targets the heart, because our heart can move us to irrational things. Advertisers know this as “every decision is an emotional decision.” You can spend way more on a car, furniture or home because it “feels” right.
The point? The heart is a powerful motivator for good or evil. What drives our heart, drives our actions and really our lives.
So Jesus goes after the heart, because he too knows that the heart leads to the actions of the hands.
Murder is an action of the hands. Anger is an emotion of the heart. While the mind may override anger and prevent physical murder, Jesus condemns anger that desires the demise of someone as equally damning as murder itself.
Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
A great case study is the first murder in the world recorded in Genesis 4.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
The Lord warned Cain about his anger, resentment and hatred toward his brother Abel. The issue wasn’t the offering Cain brought, the issue was his heart was angry and bitter. From the anger of his heart came the murder in the field.
One of our professors at Seminary said, “Never underestimate the power of the sinful nature. It can lead you to do things you never think you will do.” When our sinful nature controls our heart and Satan gets a foothold of anger lurking within, it certainly has potential to lead to murder, but just as bad is a strong desire for the demise of another person, even if that person is never murdered.
1 John 3: 14b-15 Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.·
Hatred in the heart leaves no room for love in the heart. Hatred devalues another person and their life, wishing it to be gone. This is the mission of “Team Death.”
The danger of hatred is why Jesus gives such strong warning against it and why multiple encouragements are given such as Ephesians 4:31-32:
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
With the Lord’s blessing, the Spirit of God drives out hatred and anger and we see people with eyes of compassion and forgiveness, valuing their life rather than wishing for the end of it.
Apply: Where is sin crouching at your door? Take time today to repent of it and allow the love and forgiveness of the Lord to replace any anger or hatred which lurks within.
Prayer: Lord thank you for your love and grace which chose to love us even when you had every right to be angry and hate us. As we bask in your grace, lead us to have your heart of love instead of a heart of hatred. AMEN.