The Ten Commandments: #6
We are now halfway through the ten commandments given to Moses by the Lord on Mt. Sinai. The sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not murder.” The first thing that we should note is that according to our legal system and according to the Scriptures there is a difference between just killing and murder. Murder for our purposes is the unlawful taking of life, the unlawful shedding of blood.
Murder is a great sin in the eyes of God because when we decide to murder we are destroying a man or woman or child who was created in God’s image and likeness. He takes the destruction of lives much more seriously than the destruction of monuments, buildings or even empires.
As a few of you might now, I have some experience with murderers. I worked on death row for some time. I met plenty of men who had been convicted of cold-blooded murder. This means that they had time to rethink matters but chose instead to deliberately put themselves in a situation that would end badly. Some of these men were very bad men with a long history of violent crimes. Others were kind and gentle and found themselves in situations that they could not handle emotionally. They chose their path and found their punishment. Sometimes they also found redemption through the grace of God.
One of the points for us to keep in mind is that these murders don’t happen by accident. They are the result of a series of bad decisions. But often they are also the result of a long habitual turning away from God. This starts when we refuse to forgive others and harbor thoughts of resentment and bitterness towards others. As the Lord Jesus says
“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” (Matthew 5:21).
According to the Lord, you have to get control of yourself and your thoughts. They will make you or break you eventually. We all fall short but the Lord Jesus wants us to aim for perfection, and this begins in our hearts.
Now obviously most of you are not hateful people. You would never murder. But what if I threw you a curve ball? We often don’t know our real character until we are pressed out of our comfort zones. What if you were informed that your teenage daughter was pregnant? Imagine how you might feel as a parent. Imagine the shock, imagine the sense of shame that you might feel as a parent. Imagine trying to reconcile the reality of life for your daughter as a young mother, with the life that you had planned for your daughter. All of the sudden many of us would be thinking of the convenient way of “dealing” with this. All of the sudden, all options would be left on the table.
God is not interested in how good you are when things are going your way. The Lord is interested in what you will do with His teaching when your back is up against the wall.
Will you still trust and love God as you claim that you do? Or would you betray God and choose the wrong path? Part of studying the ten commandments is understanding that God expects certain behavior of us. God expects to be number one in any and all decisions. Not just some of the decisions. Teenage pregnancy might be inconvenient. It would certainly be a complete life changer. How would we react to this? Would I honor God through my decision making process or honor my own will and desires? Would I be my own ruler, or let Jesus Christ be my king?
These are the types of situations that we are likely to face and as a society sadly, we’ve made murder a routine and convenient alternative to taking responsibility and honoring God given life. When did it become okay to sacrifice children to get what we want out of life? Child sacrifice was a routine aspect of many forms of pagan worship. How did it make its way into a somewhat Christian society?
God is love and this love created each of us as equal to one another. Our circumstances shouldn’t make one life more important than another. God loves each and every human. Each one is created in His image. Each one is worthy of dignity. That is not only true when it comes to taking life, but it’s true when it comes to living and dealing with people on a daily basis. The way that we treat others says so much about our relationship with God.
This commandment is a wonderful reminder that life is so precious and it is a gift from God. May we choose the Lord and embrace life in all our ways! And glory be to God forever AMEN.