Tuesday, March 20, 2018
“You shall not murder.”
This commandment lacks nuance. Maybe we would gladly skip over it, looking for more refined instruction that does not fall in the “Captain Obvious” camp.
Not so quick. The story of family begins with Adam and Eve dishonoring the wishes of their heavenly Father, breaking the 5th commandment. Then on the heals of their turning from God, something He says brings
death, their eldest son Cain, in a fit of jealous rage, kills his little brother Abel. The first murder of the Bible follows the heals of a mom and dad disobeying God.
It would seem a family would be alarmed by such violence and put a stop to the relational destruction. How could they let it happen again? But Scripture says the story gets worse. Moses murders a man to ‘right a perceived wrong.’ Pharaoh murders the babies of Israelites to ensure they don’t outnumber and overtake his government. King David murders Uriah to cover his adultery. Herod Antipas murders John the Baptist to silence his voice against his incestuous behavior. Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, is murdered by the Romans and Israelites because he threatens their governing power and their religious status quo. And James proclaims “you desire but do not have, so you kill.”
There is a theme that James summarizes: we kill as a means of control. We so desperately want our way, control of our life and circumstances, that we will mortally wound another human being to fulfill our pleasures (James 4:3).
Jesus says, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). The choice is to kill – with a look, a manipulative word, cutting sarcasm or force – to get what we want, OR surrender our desires, our “rights,” in the moment, to the eternal love of God. The former has left a trail of sin, suffering, brokenness and blood. The latter provides freedom. Jesus’ way leaves a legacy of love. Today, will you “kill” your neighbor or choose love?
Father, history is full of demanding violence and death. Today, fill me afresh with Your Spirit of love and peace. Give me the grace that I may surrender to your love and trust you to provide more abundantly than I could ever ask or demand to be satisfied by in this world.