As a teacher at heart, I love to reinforce the truths that I have taught so that it moves from short-term memory to long-term. So you are probably noticing that I always go back in review. And as I said last week, the first 4 commandments deal specifically with our relationship with God – the first 4 are to put our focus on God so that we might fulfill the last 6, which puts our focus on others.
The next commandment to be added to the list is straight to the point: You shall not murder. Yet this one is often misquoted, as “You shall not kill.”
I say it is misquoted due to the fact that God would be guilty of breaking His own will countless times by having the Israelites kill everything and everyone while entering the promised land.
Deuteronomy 7: 1-6 tells us that God used destruction and killing to bring about a nation that was to remember Him and act according to His will. He knew that if the Israelites were to spare any of the tribes and kingdoms they were conquering, they would fall into the pagan practices of those cultures. So He had them destroy everything, especially the people, so there would be nothing left to influence them to break His will.
So it is clear that killing is not a sin, but murder is.
But JD, this seems so cut and dry, “You shall not murder.” What else could God give you to say about this command? Message done, right?:) Sorry!
I asked the same question of God, and the clear answer was: “JD, you need to get to the heart of where murder, or the thought of murder, is derived.”
And murder starts out as anger.
Jesus said in Matthew 5: 21-22 that murder starts in the heart and mind. It just doesn’t happen. It starts in the hearts and minds of those who harbor ill feelings.
So He calls His Church to deal with these feelings. And kf not, these feeling become something that control me.
In fact Jesus continues in Matthew 5: 23-25 that if we have conflict with anyone we are to seek reconciliation before ever trying to worship God. Though He was not saying that the offended or offending party will accept our offering of peace, we will have at least done everything in our power to make things right. And this act will not harden our hearts, but rather soften them.
Jesus was telling us that to avoid revenge – to avoid murder – try to make it right. Because if you don’t try to make it right, you are susceptible to Satan’s ploys to destroy you. Just ask Cain.
God said in the very beginning to Cain in Genesis 4: 1-12, “Okay, I can see that you’re jealous of your brother Abel. And now you’re angry with him because I accepted his offering, but yours I did not. And you knew that the offering I seek is a blood sacrifice – a sacrifice of the heart. And since you have harbored these feelings of resentment and anger within your heart for a long time, you have now become bitter and you are about to do something you will regret for the rest of your life. Please, don’t let these feelings master you. Instead, you master them.”
And that is what Jesus taught us – how to master ill feelings toward someone else. He said if you want to master these feelings you must learn to:
- seek humility – to say “God, help me do this because I can’t do this in my own power.”
- seek reconciliation – to say “I’m wrong to have hurt you, or It’s okay.”
- seek forgiveness – to say “We’re good. No ill feelings. Let’s move on”
You shall not murder! Easier said than done because murder is the end result of ill feelings that have not been dealt with over time. And as Yoda said in Star Wars, “Anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.”
Maybe Cain should have listened to Yoda. Better yet, he should have listened to God who spoke those words in the first place. And we should listen as well.