Today as we continue our series on the “Ten
Commandments,” it should be noted that nothing about them is “out of
date” – in fact there is a startling relevance for today in all of them.
As you study history or if you listen to or watch the
daily news, you’ll see that the terrible sin of murder has always been
widespread. One of the first four people on earth murdered one of the
other three (Genesis 4:8) and the practice continues to this day.
Approximately one million murders are committed in the world each year.
It’s important to note, by the way, that the King
James Version of God’s Word is a beautiful translation that has led many
to Christ. It is absolutely a good book and the sheer beauty of it makes
it a wonderful resource for memorization. Yet, certain passages contain
problems and today’s Scripture is one of them. In the King James, it
was translated, “Thou shalt not kill.” But
the original meaning is actually, “You shall not
Decades ago, I was in a traffic accident in which a
young woman was killed. Though I was not charged with a crime in
relation to her death, I still think of that moment to this day. I
definitely would go back in time and drive down some other road instead
of that one, and I would stop driving for life if it would change what
happened. The reason I share this today is because of the Sixth
Commandment. What happened to that young woman, to her family and yes,
to me, is terrible, but it is not a direct violation of today’s Scripture
because it was not a premeditated act. It was an accident in which
someone tragically died.
The difference, for someone who has killed another
human being, is about intent. “Murder,” as
it is used in today’s Scripture, is something that is planned. But an
accident feels much the same because someone, something you care about has
been taken from you.
Now let’s assume that someone does something bad to you
which upsets you a lot. It’s at that point you have choices. First you
could try to find some way to exact some sort of revenge on the person who
hurt you or your loved one. It’s a very common theme of movies and
books. Harm is done to the “good guy” in such a story and as he recovers
from his injuries, he rides off, walks away or whatever, and while he
(or she) is recovering, they plan the destruction of those who hurt him
or her. And the audience feels satisfaction in the revenge that is
You can also try to forget all about it. "Put
it out of your mind... get busy with other activities and try to live a
normal life!" It's impossible because you have been hit by pain and loss that feels
like part of you has been destroyed forever. One of the most
terrible things said to a widow or widower or the parent who has lost a
child, is: “Get over it!” This usually
occurs a few months or years after the loss. There is no way you
can ever “get over it” because such loss is
like the amputation of your legs. If someone said, “Oh
get up and walk!” it would be horrible because you CAN’T walk!
And “get over it!” is very much the same.
It's best to forgive the one who hurt you. That’s the
course Scripture encourages us to take. Jesus spoke words on the subject
that are often incredible to hear because of their beauty, simplicity
and eternal truth. And note that when someone deliberately harms you,
they have acted as your enemy.
Jesus said to us: “Love
your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”
(Matthew 5:44). That statement is beautiful to hear, but impossible for
us to do. When someone does us harm, especially when they do something
to our spouse or child, something deep in our emotions, something
primeval in its intensity; emotions too strong to resist – take over. I
was standing, stunned, in the crowd, after that accident decades ago.
Someone near me said in relation to the young woman’s death, “I
hope they hang the guy who did this!” I was shocked anew – he was
talking about me! His response is a common response to loss.
An INJUSTICE has occurred, and even though what has
been done cannot be undone, some kind of PAYMENT is wanted for what has
happened! But here is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, giving us something
absolutely incredible that is utterly beyond us: “If
you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive
you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your
Father forgive your trespasses”
(Matthew 6:14-15). For God to forgive us, we must become willing to
Just as all of us have done things that cause
resentment in others, similar feelings have been generated inside of us
that literally tear us apart. We have been hurt and can’t let it
go. I could cite several examples from my life, but one of them is
especially interesting. Someone did something to me that I could not
forgive. I wanted to forgive, but I couldn't. I continued to feel
resentment because of what they did. Those are actually normal human
feelings. But what’s different is that I was participating in a church
service at a retreat in which we as pastors were encouraging those in
attendance to come forward and confess sin. I went forward, too, and
confessed that I needed to forgive, but could not do it.
The surprise is that the Lord reached into my heart,
into the depths of my being, and He, the Great
Surgeon, reached inside me and removed my lack of
forgiveness. I went back to my seat, expecting the resentment to
come back, but it didn't. I confess I expected my former anger to
come back in a few days. It did not, and has not, ever since. The Lord
healed me of unforgiveness. It is the Lord in us who can and will
forgive what we think of as the unforgiveable.
We need to see what injuries, revenge and forgiveness
are all about. First of all, God, who invented feelings, knows exactly
what you feel. As David prayed in Psalm 139:1, “O
Lord, You have searched me and known me.” The Lord knew
everything about David and He utterly knows you and me. He knows our
thoughts, our words, He sees what we do and He knows what is happening
to each one. Our lives are a series of events that we label “good” and
“bad,” interwoven with the lives of others in ways we usually don’t see
and we likely don’t understand.
The "murder" in this world is even more widespread because of the subtlety of it. If you are an angry, unforgiving
person, it will change who you are and how you treat other people. Jesus
said, “You have heard that it was said to those of
old, ‘You shall not murder’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the
judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother
without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment… and whoever says to
his brother, ‘Raca!’ (empty head!)
in danger… (and)
whoever says, ‘You fool!’
shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:21-22). We are judged
on more than our actions. We are under the judgment of Almighty God
because of angry thoughts. They lead to action. But
there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Scripture says, "The
Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
To trust in Him is to find forgiveness.
Dear Lord, we come to You with our anger, our
unforgivness and our negative thoughts. We trust in You, Lord, that You
can do in us what we cannot ourselves do. We confess our sin and give
our hearts and lives to You. Help us to forgive. In Jesus Name. Amen.