“You have heard that it was said…, ‘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 5:21-22a
Among the closest friends I have made here in prison is a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder. After 15 years of appealing to higher courts, he was finally exonerated and released in May of 2015. His case was overturned on what is legally termed actual innocence: he did not do and could not have done what the state alleged in his trial.
You and I probably have in common with my friend the fact that we haven’t caused anyone’s death. So are we actually innocent of violating God’s sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13)? Jesus says that by simply harboring anger towards somebody or by verbally insulting a person, I am as guilty as Cain, who killed his brother Abel. That doesn’t leave many exemptions, does it?
Besides ordering us to do no harm, this commandment also means that we are to show love from the heart to everyone, all the time (Matthew 5:43-48). Oh, how I have disobeyed this law! But here is grace: Christ took our place, the innocent for the guilty, “to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)