“Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13, NKJV)
Of all the commandments, the commandment to not take a human life is one of the easiest commandments to dismiss. “You shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13, NKJV) is a more correct and a better translation than “You shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13, KJV). The number of murderers in most societies is quite small. Yet from time to time, murder does take place on occasion. We see systematic brutal slaughters in nationalistic or religious fanaticism and pointless or senseless murder at times in our own culture and cringe, but generally it becomes somewhat easy to dismiss this commandment because it might apply to others in other places but never seems very near to us.
Yet Jesus … takes this commandment from the realm of a general non-applying rule and thrusts it like a burning ember into the lives of all human beings. Thus the commandment that most lends itself to being easily dismissed becomes a cautionary truth about anger which should sear the tendencies of rationalization and non-application in all of His followers (Matthew 5:21-26).
Although most people do not carry out plans for the taking of a life, Jesus identifies the source of all fiery and burning deeds of murder lies in the tinder of anger that leads to the beginnings of any such action. In the Kingdom of God, judgment from Christ comes to those who are unrelenting in their anger, sentencing follows on those who attach contempt to their verdict and severe and lasting condemnation to those who in anger would curse another person.
Jesus desires his followers to understand in deep ways the danger of anger and need for forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption. We can see our need for these actions for our salvation but their application is needed in our daily walk and in every relationship we have in the world around us that we may save ourselves from our own destruction.
Jesus later identifies all sin as coming from the heart (Matthew 15:19) and any strong and unreleased anger in our hearts will bring about many of these sins including the taking of any life. Thus the commandment to not murder is not a commandment without appropriateness in our lives but one of daily application to listen to the Spirit of God to release and even crucify our dangerous contempt and anger so the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) may grow in our lives.
Suggested Reading … Matthew 5 and Galatians 5