The fine line between hate and murder
Exodus 20:13 commands us saying, "You shall not murder."
Many of us think that we're far away from the sin of murder because we could never imagine ourselves taking the life of another person. But Jesus brings the idea of murder to a place much closer to home by declaring that there is little difference between hatred and murder.
Murder goes beyond ethically wrong; it is morally wrong because it destroys the image of God. Genesis 9:6 says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."
The sixth commandment forbids murder. The ethical theology that lies behind this command is the fact that all men and women have been created in the image of God.
Obviously, we all know that murder is wrong. But we feel that we're far from it because not a whole lot of people are serial killers in this world after all.
But Jesus teaches us that it doesn't take the taking of life to destroy God's image in a person.
1 John 3:15 says, "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."
Murder involves more than killing. Murder is more than a physical act of the flesh; it is an attitude of the heart. The Bible teaches that a heart full of hatred, bitterness or remorse can very well be guilty of murder because in our hatred we can sometimes malign people and thus malign the image of God in them, maybe not permanently but harmfully nonetheless.
On the account of the very first murder in human history—when Cain killed Abel—the crime did not start when Cain struck down Abel. It started when his heart started getting filled with anger and hatred. Murder has more to do with the state of the heart than the termination of life. Death is inevitable, but to bring forth death or even to wish it upon others or even ourselves can be very dangerous and downright sinful.
A lot of us have tasted the bitterness of rage, hate, insult, and ill-thinking. We're all guilty of murders in this aspect because we've destroyed the image of God in others. It's so easy to fall under this trap. Someone offends you or does you wrong and suddenly you find yourself declaring things upon them that you wouldn't wish upon yourself.
You've spoken deadly things against others, and you've also been on the receiving end of the same. So much death, but guess what? It doesn't have to be this way. John 14:6 says, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
Being a Christian means more than just going to church, knowing a few verses and appearing nice and holy all the time. It means going against death, hate, sin, and bitterness because in Christ there is no more need for it. When we come to realise just what life-giving power there is in Jesus Christ, the moment someone maligns or mistreats us, we will no longer feel the need to seek retribution.