Read His Words Before Ours!
Be honest, sister.
Have you ever tried to earn God’s favor?
I’ll be the first to admit I have!
Entrapped in a multi- year-long season of legalism, I believed the Ten Commandments, as well as God’s instruction to the church in the New Testament, were provided as means for pleasing God with our behavior . . . to earn His favor. I subconsciously viewed my obedience as a means to control God. If I obeyed His commands, then surely God would love and protect me and no harm would come my way . . . right?
My limited perspective was nearsighted and false. As I have grown in my understanding of the Word, I’ve learned the commands of God reflect His character. They reveal His nature, His righteousness, His love, His goodness, and His desire for us to be holy, as He is holy. As we live in obedience to Him out of a heart of gratitude for His glorious gospel, we are transformed into His image and reflect Him to the watching world.
In our series on the Ten Commandments, we’ve reached God’s commandment, “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Most everyone agrees murder is wrong, but have you ever pondered why? What makes murder so grievous? Today, we’ll unpack why murder is such an affront to the heart and nature of God.
Our conversation starts at the beginning of time, in the garden of Eden. As God created mankind, He proclaimed,
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
We see the result of this proclamation in the very next verse:
“So God created man in his own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27)
This is precisely why murder so terrible; when someone murders a fellow human being, they are snuffing out the life of an image-bearer of God Himself.
The sacred nature of human life is further illustrated in this Levitical law:
“When men get in a fight and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman’s husband demands from him, and he must pay according to judicial assessment. If there is an injury, then you must give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.” (Exodus 21:22-25)
This law clearly illustrates the importance God places on a human life,
even the smallest and most vulnerable!
For believers living after Jesus’ death and resurrection, who live everyday with the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, this commandment takes on new meaning and a higher level of accountability. As Jesus teaches in Matthew 5, our abstention from murder should extend to unrighteous anger, insults, and denigrating or slanderous speech.
In fact, Scripture explains, such treatment of a fellow image-bearer reveals a heart of hatred. Hatred of another human, even our enemies, stands in direct opposition to the example set by Jesus’ sacrificial death.
Instead, Jesus calls us to love our enemies and offers us a living demonstration: even in the midst of His agony on the cross, He didn’t spew judgement or hatred. His heart of mercy triumphed over the pain of injustice His body suffered as He interceded for His tormentors.
“Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
God’s command to preserve life, working in concert with the other passages we’ve discussed, creates a beautiful picture of the Father’s fierce heart of love for His children. The command truly comes alive and we see, for perhaps the first time, just how highly God esteems us as His creations. We bear the image, the breath, and the Spirit of Almighty God. Therefore, rather than taking a life, we are called to willingly lay down our own lives, in gratitude and love for the One who gave Himself to rescue us.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!