Lenten Day 8: MURDER
MATTHEW 5:21-26, REFS: EXODUS 20:13, GALATIANS 5:21, NUMBERS 35:30
MURDER by definition is unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. This goes to say that murder cannot occur unless two people are involved with each other at a level of relationship and the presence of a guiding law for relationships.
THE SCRIPTURAL CONCEPT OF MURDER
In the Old Testament to kill meant to take another person’s life violently. Unlawful killing(murder) was to take another person’s life without the permit of the elders of the land who were the custodians of the law and the prophets. The law and the prophets is the description of the Old Testament Scriptures. That is what dictated how the children of God lived their lives.
Now in the New Testament, Jesus Christ enshrined a new description of the term murder. In Matthew 5:21-26 he outlined the process of murder and their consequences. He redefined murder as anger against your brother without a cause, anger induced profanity at your brother, and anger induced demeaning of your brother. All these will get the same punishment as sin.
John the Beloved helped clear this critical truth in his epistle 1John 3:15 by saying that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. This is the description of the state of mind that a person would be in to do the things Jesus warned against in Matthew 5:21-26.
So as far as the New Testament is concerned, he who hates his brother has murdered him. Even though his brother still physically lives on.
THE PROCESS AND CAUSES OF MURDER
When two or more people interact, a certain level of relationship is established. When there is no clear understanding the guiding law for relationships, no clear understanding of each person’s attitude, motive for the relationship and faulty communication, disagreement becomes inevitable. But in human existence, because we are all different and perceive things differently here on earth, misunderstandings occur.
Having a misunderstanding is not a sin neither does it qualify one for hell. It is the way the misunderstanding is managed that produces the unsavory emotions and state of hearts towards one another.
When brethren do not follow the Scriptural pattern for handling misunderstandings, it degenerates to ill feelings,unforgiveness, dislike and then hatred. It is completely alien to the kingdom of God. For a Believer to hate his fellow man, that Believer must have shut down the inner gentle voice of warning of the Holy Ghost. Regardless of what any man does to a Believer, the Holy Spirit cannot hate mankind. This is because God has already loved mankind to the point of sending His Beloved Son to die for the sins of mankind.
So for the Believer to hate, he must have stopped reading his Bible, stopped his quiet time with the Holy Ghost, stopped prayer for the brethren and all available to him by association, and slowed down on his attendance of church services with brethren.
Firstly, any man who is not in Christ cannot fully control the emotion of anger and its eventual deterioration to hatred. This is because hatred is as much a work of the flesh as is anger as we see in Galatians 5;2. This is clearly outlined in Romans 8:7. The carnal man or man without Christ cannot obey the instructions of God. So, if men must deal with hatred, they must get born again. This gives them the capacity to deal with anger or outright hatred.
When people gather in meetings especially in the church setting, the code of conduct ought to be clearly defined. For believers, our code of conduct is the Bible. This means that the Word of God must consistently be taught in order to open the eyes of men so they can keep away from hatred.
The Word of God should be the instrument with which misunderstandings are handled so as to maintain relationships.
If this is not done, misunderstanding can spiral out of order breeding hatred. Hatred is a work of the flesh. It means that brethren have not been able to learn the Word of God to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. (Romans 8:13.)
Prayer for people trying to sort out their misunderstanding is another way of handling hatred. When brethren pray for themselves, even those having misunderstanding will be reconciled back and not descend to hatred.
Accurate discipleship helps in handling. When a brother is under a discipler who he respects and can defer to, that becomes a rallying point for settlements and uprooting of anger, bitterness or even hatred through wise counsel of the discipler.
Finally, what overturns the power of hatred is the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that sheds the Love of God abroad our hearts. When by the help of the Holy Spirit, love is divinely shed abroad the heart of a Believer, hatred becomes an impossibility. And if it ever was there, it is immediately uprooted by the power of love. For love covers a multitude of sin.