Friday, August 12, 2022
By Molly Carr - Journey Church Family Ministries Assistant
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
Murder. A very strong word that most are not born with the knowledge of. For me, it’s a word that has defined my life, my family, and the lens of which I view the world. How? My grandmother’s life was taken when my mother was only nine years old. Because of this trauma, I grew up in a world where my family was controlled by fear, anger, and paranoia. Then when I was nine years old, I started writing letters to the court about why the man who took my grandmother’s life shouldn’t be released from prison.
In these verses, Christ is equating anger to murder, and I can attest to the fact that the consequences are almost identical in our hearts. Anger is a prison…one that cripples the heart and the mind. I’ve watched my family put up walls around themselves, and walls around those walls, and barbed wire around those walls, and anything else to keep out danger. The presence of anger in the heart is a poison that destroys. How can Christ abide in a diseased heart or the darkest trenches of the mind?
The good news is that He does. In fact, 1 Peter 3:18-19 tells us, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. Jesus was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison”. He wants to bring you to Him in order to put to death the things of the “flesh” – anger, fear, paranoia, and anything else not of Christ. Do not allow the enemy to keep you in a prison of anger or fear any longer.
How incredible it is that Christ looks at us in the prisons we’ve created for ourselves and doesn’t condemn us to death for our sins? He sees us in our prisons and says “Child, you are already free!” (John 8:36). He already suffered once and for all so that we can live free to forgive, free to reconcile, and free to choose faith in Him over fear of what we cannot control.
One of the most freeing steps I took was to give myself permission to not be angry with the reality that I have lived life without my grandmother. Sure, I’m sad for my mom and for all of the things she didn’t get to experience with her mom the way I have…but I’m not angry. And because of this, I pray that Christ continues to restore the hearts and minds of others who have endured life in a prison of anger for too long. Instead, my hope is that they may experience the peace he freely offers.
“Lord, please reveal to me where I’m harboring anger in my heart. Bring to light the relationships I need to reconcile and the people I need to forgive. Invade the walls I’ve built up because of my anger or fear. Show me where I let anger and fear control my heart and mind so that I may invite you in to cast out all that is not of you. Amen”
Daily Prayer Initiatives
- Jesus to change more lives as we double the square footage of our Castle Pines location.
- Momentum as we launch our Highlands Ranch location.
- Someone you can invite to Journey on Friend Day (Sunday, September 11)
- One bold prayer you sense God is personally inviting you to pray during the 21 Days.
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.