“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
- Matthew 5:21-30
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a neighbor. It could have been fictional, but I had another neighbor when we first moved here, living in a different house.
I have no idea if some of his stories were true. He bragged about everything, but I only caught him red-handed a few times.
He claimed to be part of the Greatest generation, a World War II veteran. On a technicality, he was. He joined the Navy. He went through basic training and was assigned to a destroyer leaving San Francisco, and long before the ship ever reached Hawaii for refueling, the atomic bombs were dropped. They travelled as fast as they could, and barely made it into Japanese waters a month later for the signing of the surrender, ending the war officially, although the war had been over for more than a month. Yet, to hear him talk of his exploits, he had the Medal of Honor and a few Navy crosses.
I let him talk, but I refused to bow down to him, which he craved people to do.
He would meet women in the town and kiss them passionately, far beyond a polite kiss, hand going everywhere. My wife confronted him in the grocery store that he was married to a saintly woman who did not need that kind of treatment. The old man said that the woman had been an old girlfriend, and there was nothing wrong with it.
He claimed that he had one of his sons splice into the cable system so that he could have free cable. I never got confirmation of that one, but during those years, the cable reception was choppy, which is what they say happens when someone splices into the cable illegally.
I saw him go out after dark and place one garbage bag in each neighbor’s garbage can. No limits were exceeded, and no additional fees assessed for too much trash, but he never paid for trash collection, about $600+ each year. He told me that he “fought” for this country, and he was “entitled.”
I caught him on numerous occasions coming onto my back porch and using my gas can to fill his lawnmower. When I told him that he was stealing gas, he said that my can was not locked away, thus it was public property.
He had a neighbor cut down a tree of his. Only problem was that it was on our property by a few feet.
But the final straw was when my wife was watching television and she heard a familiar sound. We had an extension ladder that had a distinctive rattle when being set against the side of the house. She went outside to see this neighbor and a friend using the ladder to fix a problem on his house. My wife claimed he stole the ladder. He said that I had let him borrow it any time he needed it. She knew that to be a lie, but she told him that where we came from, if you borrowed without asking, it was theft. The friend quickly put the ladder back and left. The old man got in my face when I got home for me to have a long talk with my uppity wife. We had the talk, but I agreed with everything she had said and done.
The blissful result was that he refused to say a word to us ever again until my wife apologized, which she was not going to do. Ah, blissful silence. He died a few years later, about six months after his wife passed away. We kept talking to her – when her husband was out philandering.
But when you look at what the neighbor did versus the Scripture above, Jesus is saying that there is no such thing as a victimless crime. Stealing cable disrupts the system and lowers the quality for everyone. Putting your trash into other people’s trash cans is … kind of trashy. I was a victim of the gasoline theft, but only about $30 each year. His constant string of lies hurt my ears. And I am sure his wife knew that he kissed other women and placed his hands in inappropriate places.
I may get angry, but I have never clinched my fists, ready for a fight. I am sure people see that I am not pleased, but I would rather change the subject than to even argue. I have often ranted on my blog site, but my raised voice on occasion is the only clear sign that I am upset. I confess that I have thought of calling a few drivers on the highway a “fool,” but I have never rolled down my window to do so.
As for lust, is lust even a victimless crime? If you objectify the opposite sex for sexual purposes, even in your mind, it will be very hard to deal with that person of your lust, or any other person of the opposite sex, in a polite, proper manner, one soul toward another.
And lying, not telling the truth, can be very harmful, even the “little white lies.” People try to excuse the little white lies, because they are trying to dodge the greater sin that may not be sufficiently hidden from view.
And the biggest victim in victimless crimes is the harm that we do to the love relationship that we have with our Savior, Jesus Christ, who said the words in the Scripture above, as part of the Sermon on the Mount. When our attitude and behavior are to stretch the limits as far as we can, we are not making any attempt whatsoever at being more like Jesus. Thus, those little acts of taking advantage of situations and people add up to a distancing from God.
Victimless? You may be correct. We may get what we deserve, and God may say, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”
It is not the refraining from victimless crimes that is important. It is our attitude toward God and the relationship that we have with Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.