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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

There’s More to Murder Than You Think

It’s common for people to see conflicting commandments in the Bible. In Exodus 20:13, the commandment is emphatic: “You shall not murder.” Pretty straightforward, right?

But one chapter later, we are instructed: “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death.” - Exodus 21:12. So, what is it? If we are forbidden to murder, how is it that God requires taking a life? The answer is intent. Was the act of killing malicious and intentional? Or was it accidental?

Life is precious. We are made in the image of God. Unfortunately, as a result of sin, we do not always behave as God desires. If our world were sinless, we wouldn’t need a commandment that most people view as appropriate. “You shall not murder” is one command we hope most people understand.

However, violent crimes are on the rise. In some of our cities, it is unsafe to walk in some neighborhoods after dark. What should be understood is not.

Even though crime statistics are on the incline, I do not believe my neighbors are waiting to kill me. But is murder the only intent behind this commandment? Here’s what Jesus says:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. - Matthew 5:21–22 (ESV)

The Pharisees taught that murder consists of taking someone’s life. Jesus’ words extend the meaning beyond the act to the intent (the internal attitude that prompts the evil action). He helps us see that even dominating another by name-calling is murderous.

While we probably don’t lose sleep over wanting to “kill” someone, it may be good to re-evaluate any anger that encourages insults.


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