Step back a few verses to Deut. 30:11. “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” God simply commanded us to choose prosperity or destruction; life or death.
If everything had a label, ‘Life’ or ‘Death’, it would be simpler. In the day-to-day living though, we too often miss the labels that are there, or we fail to understand them. Jesus gave us some clarification. Do not murder, but more, do not be angry. What am I supposed to do when someone hits me, steals my car, fires me from my job, has sex with my spouse? Anger is the preferred response, yet that is the way of death.
Why death? Anger breaks the connection with God. God is life. When we lose, God we die. That is the story of the first sin. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, separating themselves from God. When God called out, “Where are you,” He knew where they were and why. God was commenting on their disconnect, their sense of loss. They could no longer feel God, even though He could feel them.
Jesus goes on through adultery, divorce, breaking oaths, and one beyond today’s reading, an eye for an eye. He summed it all up with, “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Anything that causes a division, a separation, with another person, causes a division or separation from God. God is in both of us. God wants us close to Him. Therefore, I must choose life; kindness, politeness, friendliness, even in the face of hostility. It will not always win them over, but anger never does.
Be righteous and do good.