You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)
In and of itself, this is just a great thing. We can always claim (hopefully), “Well, at least I didn’t kill anyone!” No matter how bad things may get in our lives, we always grasp at something… and most would grasp at this one. It’s such an assurance that we can be complete jerks in so many other ways, but at least we have the wonderful assurance we didn’t murder anyone! (It’s the small things in life, really.)
The command is there to keep people from killing without proper authority. (Even better in the good ol’ USA where we have CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.)
In the Law, there were even provisions for what could be deemed accidental killings. All well and good.
Then… God had to expand on what that meant in the full view of biblical justice. (American justice is simple: do something wrong, pay the price.) Justice in Israel was more holistic. God doesn’t want just the end result nullified… he wants the root of murder pulled out.
And it happens in “flyover” territory… Leviticus. You know, that book you avoid every year when you try to read the Bible through in a year.
16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.'” (Lev. 19:16-18)
You might have been under the impression Jesus brought in that extra stuff. (Matt. 5:21-22) He is only emphasizing what was already there. But, nevertheless, he wrecks the 10 commandments for us. We want to think about the minimum we can get away with in our lives (“Well, I didn’t kill anyone”) when the Law… and Jesus… tell us, “Love your neighbor.”
This is where redemption is needed. This isn’t just about gun laws or fewer gun laws. This isn’t about the Second Amendment. This is so much more core… and we just can’t get there anymore. It’s how we treat each other. It’s the respect we need to have for humanity. But we are so divided these day, all we have is hate, disdain, fear, contempt for other people and other views.
This is NOT the way of the Kingdom. Our call is live life better. To live in abundance through the power of the Spirit and see something great happen around us.
Don’t look to what you can do minimally. Look to what brings abundance and blessing to those around you.