Thoughts on Matthew 5:21-32
It all begins in the heart, for bad or good. Murder, adultery are the fruit of a bad seed. Uproot the seed and the fruit will not appear. Easier said than done. Living in the country has taught me how expedient it is to whack off the top of the weed rather than dig out the root. Expedient, yes, efficient, no. We had a poison ivy expert come and give a quote on removing the poison ivy and other invasive weeds on our property. He said it is a long, slow, labor intensive process. It takes years to rid a parcel of land of poison ivy. Roundup shrivels the leaves, but it doesn’t kill the plant.
Jesus says poisonous, death-dealing fruit such as murder and adultery need to be plucked out, not just suppressed.
In my little parochial world I do not have much worry about committing adultery or murder, but what fruit do the seeds of lust or anger bear in my life? Let’s pause and let you examine me, Holy Spirit.
The word that comes to my mind as I sit quietly with the question is pettiness. Ouch. Dictionary.com defines petty as “behavior characterized by an undue concern for trivial matters, especially in a small-minded, spiteful way.” How am I petty? Irritated that Jack doesn’t load the dishwasher the way I think it should be loaded. Frustration with B’s disregard for my time schedule. (he says he’ll be here in 25 minutes and shows up an hour later.) Pettiness raises her head because I don’t have anyplace I have to be, so it really doesn’t matter if he shows up at noon or one o’clock!
I know I can’t not feel the emotional reactions I have to these situations. Feelings are feelings, they are amoral. But what they can lead to is definitely a moral issue. Lord, pluck out the anger that produces such pettiness in my life. Heal the wounded place that demands my way, my time, me, me, me. Plant your great love within my heart. When I notice pettiness emerging I will bring my soul and the source of my pettiness into your presence. In your light small-minded, spiteful thoughts diminish. It’s a long, slow, labor intensive process, but you are on the job. Thank you and amen.