“Thou shalt not kill.”Exodus 20:13
In December 1997, I was living in Chicago and visited Phoenix to be the best man at my friend’s wedding. I flew in a week early to spend time with family and friends. It was my cousin’s birthday and he and my other cousin picked me up from the airport. It was good to see them, and we celebrated his birthday that night. There were some friends I wanted to get together with while I was in town, and I was excited for my friend’s wedding. I looked forward to the week ahead, but little did I know that things would change quite dramatically the following day.
The next morning, I called a friend as we had plans to meet and catch up on each other’s lives. I called his house and his sister, whom I had previously dated, answered the phone. Our relationship did not end well, and I was not pleased to be speaking to her. I told her that I just wanted to speak to her brother and not her, and she said something that shocked me. Her voice was somber and she told me that my friend, her brother, had been killed the night before. I was floored when she told me, and I wanted it to not be true, but the sound of her voice led me to believe she was telling the truth. I did not know what to say, and my heart broke as I heard the news. I tried to make sense of the whole thing, but it is impossible to make sense of such a horrendous act.
I cried after I got off the phone, and I was shocked and numb and did not know what to say or think. My friend was only 19 years old, and he had his whole life in front of him. I had just spoken to him on the phone days earlier, and we had plans to get together. My emotions were like a roller coaster and my sadness turned into anger. There were so many questions that I wanted answered, and I did not understand how this could happen. There was a little article that ran in the paper the following day and it listed the offender who had murdered my friend. The newspaper stated, “David Martin was murdered without provocation.” I read the perpetrator’s name, and I welled up with anger towards this person.
Eventually, I moved back to Arizona. I attended the trial as much as I could years later, and the perpetrator was sentenced to life in prison. I caught glances of him during the trial, and he seemed not to care and was even arrogant during the trial. I was glad to see him get life, and I felt a sense of satisfaction as he was led away in cuffs. I thought of myself as righteous, and overlooked the wickedness of my own heart. I had never taken someone else’s life, but I certainly was not guiltless before God. Matthew 5:21-24 states, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (vain, empty, or worthless), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” God’s standard of murder is when we hate someone or get angry with them without a cause.
Have you ever held this position of anger towards someone? Have you ever said the word “hate” when speaking to or about someone else, even if it was only in your own heart? Do you see murder only as God sees it? Murder is a wicked sin, and it is not our right to take the life of another without cause. All mankind is made in the image of God and all life is precious to God, even though we may not think so. I have looked at others and wished them to be dead, and per God’s standards, I am guilty of murder. My thoughts and words have been wicked to others, and I stand here guilty of this heinous crime. May we be careful of how we view others, and may we see others as God sees them. Are you guilty of murder per God’s standard? May we confess our wickedness before almighty God, and may we see sin as God sees sin. God loved the world and commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Love does not allow hate, and may we show love to a world who stands guilty before God.