Crabtree Acres


Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.”

This commandment is very short and to the point, but just exactly is what God saying to us here? Some versions of the Bible say, “Thou shalt not kill.” There is a difference between these two words in the minds of people today. Some people take this to mean that we should not kill anyone or anything, including insects and animals; including animals that God allowed us to eat after the flood. Other people use this as a reason to condemn God, because God commanded the children of Israel to kill all the people who were living in the Land of Promise when they went in to conquer the land. They use that as an excuse to say that God broke His own commandment and sinned, so He cannot be a perfect God. God had a good reason for destroying the people who were living in the Promise Land. They were idol worshipers and hated God and His people. God’s people were really babies in their faith and needed a clean slate in which to learn God’s ways.

What is the difference between “murder” and “killing”? The difference in the two words is in the source of where the action starts. Murder always begins in the heart of an angry person. Killing can be caused by many different things – hunger, self-defense, sanitation, defense of a nation’s people from harm are just a few of the reasons we might kill. In Genesis 9:6 God Himself started something we call “capital punishment” today.

Where did the first murder begin? Genesis 4 tells us that Cain’s pride caused him to become jealous of his brother Abel. Jealousy in Cain’s heart led to anger, anger led to hate, and hate led to murder. God warned Cain that his anger was a “sin crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” We must take control of our emotions when sin is crouching at the door and master it with the help of God’s Holy Spirit. We can choose to give in to jealousy, anger and hate or we can master it with God’s power. We choose for ourselves which it will be.

There are ways that we can murder without literally killing another person’s body. There are three parts to us as humans – body, soul and spirit. Jesus said that when we hate someone we have already killed them in our hearts. God looks at our hearts and sees either love for our enemies or hate. He warns us that we are murderers if we do not master the hate we feel inside.

What are other ways that we can murder?

We can kill a person’s soul (mind, will, emotions). We can take a person’s joy and turn it to sadness by our actions. Think of a child who is so happy to bring beautiful flowers to their mother and the mother says “Those are just weeds; throw them away.” Or a teenage boy who has succeeded in making the winning score for his team, but his father says, “I can’t believe you were able to do that; it was just luck.” We can discourage someone from succeeding in some area by killing his will to try. I remember when we were in our senior year of high school we were given tests to see what our areas of skill were. One of my classmates had worked hard in school for nearly twelve years and wanted to be an attorney. The person giving the test told him that he would never be a lawyer so he should try something else instead. This classmate became discouraged, but he didn’t give up. He had to work very hard in college and take the bar exam more than once, but he retired as an attorney just a few years ago. Someone less determined would have probably given up and not even tried after being discouraged so much by someone who didn’t even know us as people. I personally had wanted to be a teacher from the time I was very small. My family did not have the money to send me to college and I knew that if I want to teach I had to go to college on scholarships. My father had gone through 10 grades in school and no one in my extended family had gone to college before so the entire dream seemed impossible. I worked hard and was told that I was to be the valedictorian of my senior class, but one teacher decided that another girl would have a better chance of going to college, so she should become valedictorian. She talked the administration into not counting conduct grades as part of the criteria for awards. With the conduct grades counted as they had been since time began, I would have been the valedictorian; without them counting I was about ½ point behind. That decision on the part of the teacher cost me a full scholarship through my Dad’s company. I worked my way through the local college in Campbellsville the first year and then got a scholarship the next three years to finish at Western with a Math and English degree and a teacher’s certificate. We can kill people’s will to succeed by judging them based on family income, lack of education in the other members of the family and all sorts of reasons that keep people “in their place”.

The spirit of a person is the dwelling place of God. When we hurt another person so much that they cannot relate to God in their hearts we have killed their spirit. Criticism is one of the ways we can beat a person down until they have no hope or faith that God can change them or their situation. When we constantly laugh at another person or constantly tell them they are no good or not capable of doing things they want to do, we kill their spirit. They lose faith in themselves and in God to help them change.

When we hate another person so much that we wish they were not around, we have murdered them in our hearts. The murder of abortion does not begin at the time the child is aborted; it begins with the desire to get rid of an inconvenience to the mother or father. The parents do not want to be bothered with a child that will tie them down, embarrass them or cause them to have to change their lifestyle. For the unmarried this child is a living witness to their sin; for the married it is something in the way. It was a shock to me to find out that many married people are now choosing to have abortions. Really, abortion is a denial of God’s creative authority in the lives of people. We have come to a place in society when evolution tells us that life is cheap and we are not any more important than any other animal. Just as we feel free to get rid of animals in our lives, we now feel free to rid ourselves of babies. The worse thing is that people value animal life more than children now. We are fined for killing snakes, red-tailed hawks, and other animals, but now the proposal is being made that a mother can abort a child up to two months after it is born. When will it stop? Unless God is Lord in our lives there is no stopping it. In pagan nations like India and China, children can be laid out on the street to die at any age without consequences. We do not always see the consequences until later. Two of the sons of Jacob killed an entire nation of people because their sister Diana had been violated by a man who loved her and wanted to make her his wife. Jacob’s sons had made an agreement with the nation that if they would be circumcised and become Jews, the young man could have Diana as his wife. Then they went out and killed all the men of that nation. We may think that should be a good reason to kill, but later when Jacob (Israel) was giving blessings to his sons Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49) he cursed their anger and cruelty and said that their tribes would be scattered into the other tribes of Israel. We may not see the consequences of our criticism or ridicule until later when we see these things repeated in our children to our grandchildren, or see it in the way our employees treat others in the office. God tells us to think on things that are lovely, things that are of good reputation, things that give hope and things that lift up.

Many times the cause of anger is simply hanging on to “our rights” to something. Jesus had every right to be a king here on earth and be served by all of us, but he humbled Himself and took the form of a servant. He came to die for us and willingly gave His life that we might live. He did not become angry on the cross and curse us; he forgave us. The way we can obey this command in the way Jesus wants us to is to love our enemies, do good to those who hurt us and forgive those who persecute us. That changes the entire focus of the “Thou shall not murder” to a “Thou shall …”. The only way we are capable of forgiving and loving our enemies is to see the mercy of God in our own lives and be thankful. This gives us compassion in our hearts for those who do not know Christ.

II Timothy 2: 24-26 describes a bond-servant in this way: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Other Scriptures to read:

Titus 3:1-11 (We were once exactly like our enemies, but God saved us by His mercy, not because of anything good we have done to deserve it.)

Romans 1

Philippians 2:3-8 (We should regard others as more important than ourselves)

Luke 9:23 (Deny our cross daily and follow Him)

Ephesians 4:26, 31-32

Psalm 37:1-8

Colossians 3:1-17