“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
The first five commandments given to us have an accompanying explanation; for example, the command to honor ones’ father and mother is followed by “that your days may be long.” In sharp contrast, the last five are brief and to the point, beginning with the phrase, “Thou shalt not…” Furthermore, these are the instructions that define how we are to interact with our fellowman.
The first one on the second tablet — “You shall not murder” –- has relation to the very first instruction on the first tablet. Those who truly believe in the one and only God would not murder someone that was created in His image. God alone gives life and He alone has the authority to require it. So whether it is the murder of an adult or of an unborn child, it is forbidden. I should mention that murder is distinguished from killing, because there are situations where taking another’s life may be justified. Defending your life or the lives of your loved ones, defending your nation in a time of war, or an accidental killing are not considered to be murder. In fact, Scripture makes allowance for situations such as these but doesn’t allow the one who murders to escape from justice.
Hopefully, most of us will never have to face this situation including those scenarios where killing is justified. No one who follows the Messiah with their whole heart wants to take someone’s life in any circumstance. Unfortunately, there are many of His followers who don’t realize that, with hurtful and reckless words, we can be just as destructive. We know that “life and death” are in the power of the tongue. Moreover, the Scripture likens harmful and bitter words to arrows and the sword, capable of piercing someone and crushing their spirit (Psalm 64:3, Proverbs 12:18, 15:4).
If it is not lawful to destroy the body of one made in the image of God, why would we think it is appropriate use words to injure someone who is infused with the breath and spirit of the Almighty. Our words should always produce praise, encouragement, healing and life because these things are profitable and in concert with the heart of our God. Let us be determined not to injure our fellowman with murderous words.
Blessings and Shalom,