(This message may be used as an individual sermon or as part of the series.)

Matthew 5:21-25 – KEEPING THINGS RIGHT


One of the most difficult tasks we face as Christians is the practice of being right with people at work, people at home, people in school and our brothers and sisters in church. It is likely that there is at least one person in your life that you are currently at odds with or he is at odds with you. It is very possible that you are holding a grudge against someone who did something to hurt you or someone you love. 

Why is it hard to get along well with all people all the time?

It is simply because we are human and have our faults.

It is simply because they are human and have their faults. Romans 12:18 

So how do we keep things right between us and others?

The Lord Jesus answers this question in Matthew 5:21-26.


The greatest cause of problems between us is anger.

That doesn’t mean you always blow your top.

It is possible to be annoyed, provoked, or mad because you’re hurt, upset by another’s actions without them ever knowing about it.  You don’t have to yell, scream or holler in order to be angry. 

When I am angry at someone, things are not right between us. When someone is angry at me things are not right between us. We can not sense the love of God when there is a division caused by anger in the brotherhood of Christ.

Vs. 21 – Jesus gives us the statement of the Old Testament Law, as taught by the leaders of His day. 

The only requirement, as seen by the religious leaders of the day, was not to murder (They were not talking about accidental or unintentional killing.). 

As long as nobody was murdered, a person was allowed to be as angry as he or she cared to be. 

Vs. 22 – In this verse Jesus shows us how guilty we are!

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment

How often have we been angry without cause? 

Jesus is telling us that the anger that leads some people to become murderers is wrong!  And many have wished in their hearts that they could murder someone, or that a certain person would experience harm. We can become murderers in our hearts when we are angry for the wrong reasons. 

There were times when Jesus became angry.

Jesus knew how to be angry at sin, and not to have a personal vendetta against the sinner.

Much of our anger is caused because we feel wronged, hurt or offended! 

Jesus continues saying, and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council:   

The word Raca means “empty”.

It is the equivalent today of calling someone, “birdbrain, numbskull, or idiot”.

When we say these phrases, especially in anger we are actually ridiculing someone who was made in the likeness of God. 

John MacArthur said, “To slander a creature made in God’s image is to slander God Himself and is equivalent to murdering that person.” John MacArthur, Kingdom Living Here and Now ( Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1980), p. 295 

And if this isn’t bad enough already, Jesus concludes this verse by saying, but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 

The word translated fool, according to MacArthur, “means ‘stupid’ or ‘dull’ and is the term from we get moron. It was sometimes used in secular Greek literature for an obstinate, godless person…To call someone you fool was to accuse them of being both stupid and godless.” ibid    

Most of us here are Christians.

Probably you are already a believer.

And yet, you can think of times when you have been angry without cause. And you can think of people you still hold a grudge against. Psalm 66:18 


Matthew 5:23 – Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 

The altar was in the Temple.

The altar was where, as a part of worship, sacrifices were made for sin.

The altar here is probably symbolic for worship. 

So you try to worship God by coming to church.

And you try to worship God by singing hymns and songs of praise and adoration.

And you try to worship God in your prayers.

And you try to worship God in your giving.

And you try to worship God in your personal devotions.

But, as you try to worship God, it comes to your mind that you are angry with someone – confess it as sin.

Or, as you try to worship God, it comes up in your mind that someone has something against you.  You have made someone angry. Perhaps you didn’t even mean to or do it intentionally, but you know that someone has something against you. What do you do? Matthew 5:24 

Someone has something against you!

Stop the worship!

Go, make it right!

Confess sin, if necessary.

Ask for forgiveness.

If the person forgives you, all is well. You can worship

If the person doesn’t forgive you and you have tried to reconcile with that person to the best of your ability, come and worship. You’ve tried! It’s out of your hands! 


Vs. 25 – Jesus uses the illustration of being in debt to someone. Your opponent is taking you to court.

If thrown in jail in those days, you didn’t get out until you paid up. It was a debtor’s prison type deal. 

The only way you could get out was if someone could raise the money to get you out.

So, if you could come to terms with your creditor, and make agreement on the way to court for a plan to pay the man back, you were certainly better off.     

How does this relate to us today?

It is far more pleasant to agree with a person than to argue with him. It is far more pleasant to come to compromise, if doctrine is not involved than to have a hassle. 

And especially, if you are the one to blame, the debtor, you should be the one who is trying to straighten things out.