Sometimes it is hard to be human. We can be so full of ourselves it is only a matter of time before we have tension with others. People at work, people in the neighborhood, people at church, people in our homes. No matter where you look, if you are around other people, you are going to run into fights and quarrels (James 4).
How do you handle this tension with others? Some of us are turtles who like to pull our heads in and be safe. Others are owls who want to fix problems. Still others are sharks who attack and control. Are you one of these? A mix?
This 5th command calls us to not murder each other. If you are like me, you sit there and think, “This does not apply to me, I’ve never murdered anyone nor will I ever murder anyone. Next command please.”
That may be well and good but murder might not be defined as you think. We might have broken this command without realizing it.
Read: Deuteronomy 5:6-7, 16-21; Matthew 5:21-24
6 “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
7 “You must not have any other god but me.
16 “Honor your father and mother, as the LORD your God commanded you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
17 “You must not murder.
18 “You must not commit adultery.
19 “You must not steal.
20 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
21 “You must not covet your neighbor’s wife. You must not covet your neighbor’s house or land, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
When God's people entered the promised land they were to operate differently than the nations. They were given a set of commands that would dictate how society should function.
The "horitontal commands" that deal with how we relate to others are important to understand correctly. Really they are about treating others the way we want to be treated.
Today, the comand we are looking at is related to murder as we said. Murder is not the same as killing. There is a distinct difference. Some struggle to understand the difference and reach wrong opinions about capital punishment and the right of governments to execute convicted felons.
The word for murder used here in Deuteronomy is not in doubt. The word makes clear that this refers to pre-meditated and intentional murder. It speaks of someone that takes time to plot and plan the death of another. They were not to do this. Justice had a process and it needed to be followed. They were not to take things into their own hands.
In the NT Jesus takes it further. He addresses murder in the heart. He said that we can be guity of this command by being angry or harboring hatred toward someone. That is a game changer.
Tension leads to anger, anger can make us guilty of "murder". Kind of sounds like Yoda from Star Wars! When we are angry with someone and that anger is allowed to fester we have gone too far. We need to take that to God.
God wants our lives marked by grace and forgiveness. We are commanded to release people when they hurt us. We are to be reconciled with others. We are supposed to take reconciliation so seriously that we make things right with others when they have a problem with us (Matthew 5:23). That includes us turtles!
Can you come to grips with this command? Can you confess that you are guilty of murder as defined by Jesus? It is a hard place to get to. We like to think we are OK.
How are you managing tension with others?
Is there anyone that is angry with you? Anyone that does not like you for whatever reason? Are you willing to go and work it out with them?
Is there anyone that you are angry with? God wants you to forgive them. Will you trust him with that? Will you be reconciled with them?
DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.