The goal of rabbis of Jesus' day was to motivate people to obey God's word and to stay far from sin. One technique that they used in their teaching was to point out that seemingly small sins can lead toward much greater sins.1 We see this in Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount when he first describes how in the Scripture, murder requires judgment, but then he says that even anger and insults put you in danger of judgment. A rabbinic source actually derives this same point by linking together several verses in Leviticus:
It is fascinating how the commentary here pulls together several commands from Leviticus and points out the progression between them. It draws a slope of sin that is a natural progression:
Both Jesus and the rabbis are pointing out that the time to confront a sin is when it is still minor, so that you can forgive and your relationship can be repaired. If you just internalize your anger, it will eventually lead to contempt, hatred and thoughts of revenge. After that it is a short step between insults, fighting, breaking up relationships, and even destroying life.
We all should examine our feelings toward others and consider if we harbor grudges toward people around us. The time to confront and forgive is now - before we slip any further down the slope. Like Cain, sin is crouching at the door of our hearts. We need to keep ourselves from this terrible incline that can eventually lead to death.
©2006 Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
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