“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13
The commandment against murder is one that most people feel they have kept but this is far from the truth. Believe it or not, in the biblical sense, we have all committed murder at some point in our lives. Killing doesn’t always end up with someone dying, at least not in the physical sense. Killing takes on many other forms. So, what does this commandment mean?
According to Luther’s Small Catechism, the fifth commandment means that we are to fear, love and trust in God so that we do not cause harm to anyone in any way, but rather we are to help and support our neighbor with all physical needs. If we intentionally do anything to cause harm to our neighbor, we are in effect committing murder.
Bombs, bullets, and other weapons are not the only means by which humans kill other humans. We often use words to kill our neighbor in mind, body and spirit. Bullying or attacking a person’s character or reputation are forms of killing self-esteem. Making fun of a person’s physical characteristics or appearances kills confidence. Such behavior, as seen played out in our society, have serious consequences.
In light of the fifth commandment, we Christians must strive to find ways to love, defend and protect our neighbor. For as the apostle Paul writes; “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10
Prayer: Loving God, give us the will to care for and protect the lives of our neighbors, building them up in faith and love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.