You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool! ’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron! ’ will be subject to hellfire. (Matt 5:21-22)
Perhaps it is because I was reading this out of my newest Bible, a Holman Christian Standard I purchased because it has the largest "large print" I have ever seen, that I paid more attention than usual to those verses. I mean, that last line really gets your attention. Then I noticed the footnote on the word "fool" and laughed out loud.
"Literally Raca, an Arab term of abuse similar to 'airhead.' "
Airhead? Do you mean the ancients talked like that too? Of course they did. People have not changed for centuries. But reading that footnote also hit home. When I was driving, one of the more common terms I tended to use about other drivers was, "Idiot." What other term better fits people who swerve in and out of traffic at high speed, tailgate at those same speeds, text while driving, suddenly slow down ten miles an hour whenever they answer their phones as if that will instantly make them safe drivers despite the distraction, sit at a stop sign while you approach on the main road at the posted speed of 55 and then pull out when you are a car length away? Idiots, all of them.
And then, reading that new version and knowing what that footnote said, made me wonder why the Lord connected calling people "airhead," or something similar, with murder. I have pondered this for a few days now and maybe I have it. When you consider someone to be that kind of person, whether you use the word airhead, moron, idiot, or "things like these" (cf Gal 5:21), you really mean they are not worth caring about, not worth your consideration, not worth "the air they breathe or the space they take up," as some would say. And that is exactly the mentality you must have to commit murder. De-humanizing in any manner someone made in the image of God, someone whom Christ also died for, would make it a whole lot easier to simply eradicate them. I may not realize that is what I am doing when I call people these names, but it is, and that is exactly why I should never have done it in the first place.
Even if they don't drive, or talk, or act, or live--or vote--like I want them to.
A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible. (Prov 12:16).