Exodus 20:13. You shall not murder.
I once attended an exhibition of photographs put together by news journalists. There was a sequence of enlarged prints depicting a man astride another man with a knife held high above his head. The photographs depicted the man plunging the knife into his victim’s heart while a horrified but intimidated crowd looked on. The murderer’s face was an inhuman contortion of rage, irrationality and blood-lust. That stark picture has etched itself on my mind as a tragic example of the indescribable anarchy that often rules human hearts and minds. It’s no wonder our Lord once said:
‘You are of your father the devil, your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks out of his own character for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44)
The apostle John restates this fact in 1 John 3:15.
‘Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.’
We must find a way of living peaceably with each other. This is one of the great challenges of life. But if Christians do not set the pace for peace – who will? The world persists in the vain hope that conferences, treaties and accords will bring peace. They refuse to take into account the great dynamic of human sinfulness. But we of all people should not be fooled. We are Christians and we have God’s Word. We must seek to understand it and apply its teaching to our lives.
As we consider this great commandment let us ask God to give us wisdom, insight and the determination to live, as far as possible, at peace with all men. That is surely one of life’s great challenges.
As we consider this command over the next few days let us ask God to give us the insight to see how terrible sin is. Every blow struck by one human being against another is a blow against someone created in the image of God. We must be sure we ourselves never get caught up in violence. We should be careful that our attitudes are not hardened by the extreme violence portrayed in the entertainment media. Instead let us serve, love and protect others and display the gentleness and love of Christ.
O God, we are horrified at the violence we see around us. Help us to guard our own hearts against hardness in this regard and restore to us the gentleness of Christ. Amen