Have you ever got up in the morning and pondered,
“Who am I going to murder today with my tongue?” Of course not. But oh how often we slay fellow humans because we did not begin the day with pre-meditated love. To be sure, if our hearts are not set on love, they will nestle down into a justified bunker where we launch murderous words like grenades over a wall.
After reading Exodus 2:11-14 and Matthew 5:21-26, I come up with this:
7 Steps to Murder Someone without Pulling the Trigger?
1. See or Perceive an Injustice. (like Moses did)
2. Feel indignation and anger. (like Moses did)
(So far, you have not murdered. But here comes the cocking of the trigger in the heart and on the tongue. Anger can either go godly at this point or ungodly, depending on what one believes about the future justice of God, the humility of the heart, and the slowness to anger that tempers words and attitudes)
3. Believe that you are innocent of what you judge. (like Moses did)
4. Believe that you have a unique right to engage any wrong that you see or perceive. (like Moses did)
5. Don’t Look Up at the one who sees and hears everything. Forget that Christ is Judge of all. (like Moses did not)
6. Feel that your life, or the life of someone important to you, is more valuable than the life of others. (like Moses valued the life of his kindred over the life of the Egyptian. If Moses were consistent, he would not have verbally engaged his Hebrew brothers, he would have murdered the one who was guilty of picking the fight)
7. Use speech that communicates that someone’s life is worthless. (Moses used his hands but Jesus saw the emotion that caused the hands to murder – that’s why the emotion itself is just as wrong as the act).
In his opening sermon, Jesus aims at the heart. The real intention of the Law was the pre-murderous emotions and dispositions that lie behind the act of murder. Sinful anger can be white-hot rage or cool and passive contempt. The kind of anger that Jesus is talking about here is the kind that ends up screaming at the referee who makes a judgment call that is harmful to our team and then with contempt we call him a name and treat his existence as a human as worthless or good for nothing. Then, when the same ref makes a bad call that actually turns good for our team, we celebrate his stupidity that adds to our score. God sees that kind of double-minded wickedness.
Still again, sinful anger can be silent, passive, and smug in its contempt towards others, seeing others as worthless rubbish because of wealth, education, race, gender, or anything that you use to feel superior over others.
We become offended at minor snubs, and minor acts of disrespect. We rage at people who cut us off in traffic and then hurl words that imply worthlessness. Anger and contempt are interior states of the heart that can lead to murder. John says, Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15). Behind murder lies the judgment, the conviction that someone who has failed us or wronged us deserves to die. (oops! I just convicted myself, for I have wronged God and deserve to die. Will I now extend the same mercy that I want?)
Sinful anger, that emotion gone wild and apart from God’s restraining grace would have led to physical murder, often pivots on the hearts belief about justice. It is not sinful to be angry over real sin. We’re commanded to be angry over falsehood and anything that is contrary to godliness (Psalm 4:4, 5; Eph. 5:25-27). But godly anger becomes murderous sinful anger when we feel justified to use words or actions that convey contempt and hatred because we refuse to wait for God’s justice upon the transgressor.
But see what God has done for us as the apostle Peter preaches the gospel:
Acts 2:22-24, 36-41
A. God executes his son in our place
B. And men murdered Jesus Christ
B`So that Murderers (Moses, Paul, you, and me)
A` May not be executed
Now that’s good news indeed!
Thanks for the reminder that anger has many faces and that all are equally sinful.
You’re welcome Jill. These were some remnant notes from this past Sunday’s sermon on “You shall not Murder”.