“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
We are on the sixth commandment today. The import of this commandment is deeper than it appears. There are different forms of murder. Some are literal, others are not.
Life is a gift from God (Psalm 127:3). Taking it upon oneself to end a life, whether one’s own life (suicide) or that of another (including life in the womb) constitute a sin against God. These are literal forms of murder. Jesus however explained it more deeply as follows:
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. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22)
The Greek word for angry here means to become enraged or exasperated. It connotes an unhealthy degree of anger. It implies a loss of control over one’s emotions. This leads to conceived harm. Jesus means here that being so angry at someone to the point of being inclined to hurt them can be placed on the same scale as murder.
Furthermore, Jesus says when you call someone an insulting name such as “Raca” (which means a worthless fellow), you’re no different from a murderer. Defamation, character assassination, slander, can all be found in this category. Destroying a person’s sense of dignity is the same as destroying the person.
If you study this carefully, you will realize that the lack of appreciation for the worth of people coupled with unbridled anger is what leads to literal murder. If we should heed Jesus’ warning and work on both our anger management and our value of people, we shall hardly fall guilty to the sixth commandment.
The next time you get angry or offended by anyone, remember, “You shall not murder!”