Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10 Rules for a Better Life (#6)

"You shall not murder." Exodus 20:13

Many people come to the sixth commandment and go, "Ah-ha! I know I've kept this one! I can honestly say that I've never killed another person in my life." But before you start patting yourself on the back, remember what Jesus had to say about this topic:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment." Matthew 5:21-22

Was Jesus changing the rules on us? No. Just a few verses before this, Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17) Jesus is simply giving us a deeper understanding of what the original commandment was supposed to mean in the first place.

Do ever remember your parents telling you to apologize to your brother or sister? You might have blurted out a quick "Sorry," but you and everyone else knew you didn't mean it. Or maybe you were supposed to do a chore like sweep the floor. So you took the broom and swept it across the floor, but didn't leave it very clean when you were done.

Sometimes we obey God the same way we "obey" our parents, teachers, etc. We take the instructions they give us and we look for loopholes. Whether it's because we're lazy or we just want our own way, we look at God's law and try to find ways to get away with as much as we can without "technically" breaking the rules.

Therefore, some people think, "As long as I'm not killing somebody I can treat others however I want." Then Jesus comes along to tell us, "That's not what I meant and you know it!" Jesus came to show us that God isn't just concerned about our actions and the appearance we give on the outside. He also judges our thoughts, attitudes, and the other areas of our lives that nobody else sees.

In the end, obeying God's law comes down to trust. Do you trust that what God wants (and knows) what is good for your life? If not then I don't know why you're still reading. But if you say you trust God with your life, then stop looking at God's laws trying to find ways to keep some control over your life. Instead, search God's Word for ways you can put your life in His hands.

As Jesus continues to teach in Matthew chapter 5, He gives us some practical advice. He basically says that calling people names and treating them with contempt is as offensive to God as murder. He also tells us that if we leave things unresolved with another person that it will negatively affect our relationship with Him. It's difficult to have open, honest communication with God when you feel like strangling one of His children.So if you're like me you probably haven't killed anybody, but you still need to rethink how you view the sixth commandment. I've never taken anyone's life, but I've lashed out in anger (physically and verbally), I've held a grudge, I've sought to get revenge, and I'm sure much more. All of these things violate the sixth commandment because this is not how God wants me to treat others. Even the things I've wanted to do or say but never went through with still hurt God because He knows my heart.

I'm not going to pretend that following God's law or Jesus' teaching (basically the same thing) is easy. So don't pretend to follow God through your actions when your heart is not in it. It would be better if you would just admit to yourself that you don't trust God and go from there than to continue fooling yourself and everyone else into thinking you do. Just remember that God is never fooled. He knows the state of your heart even if you don't.

If you aren't sure about the condition of your heart, bring it before God. He can fix any attitude and show you how to match your thoughts and desires with the kind of life you want to live.

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