Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Matthew 5:23-24
Verse 19: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death.”
In Deuteronomy 30 Moses presents a choice: God or not God? It is a choice all people must make. Most people in our modern world come across God. They hear of or know of God and faith. Some are drawn in and accept faith and others reject it. And then there are those who live and die without ever hearing about God or Jesus. Some of these folks sense good within and in the world and they live reflecting this spark of the divine within them. Others in this situation reject the good and choose to live for self. All people choose between life and death, between good and evil.
Moses is presenting this choice to the people of God. They clearly know and understand who and what God is. Moses makes it clear that it is a choice: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death.” The choice that Moses lays out is more about the way we choose to live day in and out rather than checking off more of the boxes that represent us keeping each and every law. Faith is not a giant balance scale. It is not a grand race to become “perfect.” Faith is about a heart turned to God. In verses 20 Moses describes the outcome of such a heart: “that you may love the Lord your God, listen to God’s voice, and hold fast to God.” These words ooze covenant love and presence and relationship.
Turning to the Matthew text for today, Jesus connects our relationships with one another into what it means to choose God. In verses 21-37 Jesus uses “But I say…” statements to guide us to look within, to look at what drives our choices, our actions, our inactions. In today’s 2 verses Jesus hones in on the importance of living in right relationship with each other. He places this as a prerequisite to coming before God. He tells us that we cannot be in a place of brokenness or sin with one another and think it okay to come before the Lord in that state. Jesus says, “First go and be reconciled… then come.” Made right with one another then we can come before God. This is a powerful statement. It reveals how much God values community and living in right relationship with one another. Both are revealed in a heart turned to God. May this be our heart.
Prayer: Lord God, where and when I struggle to offer reconciliation, help me. Lead me and guide me past self. Make my heart to better reflect yours, O God. Amen.