"You shall not murder." Exodus 20:13
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment...But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Matthew 5:21-22
This last Sunday I lead the youth in a discussion about the sixth commandment, 'You shall not murder.' It seems simple enough in theory. Most people look at such a command and think, 'I'm doing pretty good, haven't killed anyone recently', and most of the time when confronted with news stories about brutal murders or the issue of abortion, my sense of righteous anger and justice are excited. How could anyone do x, y, z? I wonder. It's so inhuman!
But then, I'm confronted with the words of Christ in Matthew. He doesn't let me off the hook. In fact, He digs deeper into the heart and reveals to me just how wickedly sinful I am. He says that if I am angry with someone, if I call them a name, then I am a murderer in the eyes of God. Wow! Hold the phone! A murderer? Sweet and innocent Courtney? (For the record, if you're thinking this you clearly don't know me as well as you think you do.) The answer to this question of course is a resounding yes.
The fact is, at the heart of my anger and my name calling is a heart that is not valuing human life! And is that not what murder is? Devaluing life? Talk about convicting.
One of the pastor's wives furthered my conviction when she mentioned gossip as a topic heavily addressed in the bible. I didn't realize this right away, but later on that day I considered the fact that gossip, like hate, is just one more way of devaluating human life! Gossip has, at its heart, the same sinful attitude as murder. We cannot escape it. It puts us first, others second, and maybe God third. It say, "I am infinitely superior to everyone around me, and I place value on what I will place value." This leaves absolutely no room for us to think well of ourselves, and that's the point! That was Jesus' point. He did not come to the world to raise our self-esteem, He came to the world to give us a new nature, to satisfy the wrath that we deserved, and to grant us a right relationship with God.
It is this kind of grace that knocks the wind out of me and leaves me speechless. I pray it does you too.