Lethal Thoughts

Lethal Thoughts

You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13

The other day, as I went to make a turn at an intersection, I offended another driver. It’s an awkward intersection that I won’t try to explain, but I don’t know how I could have avoided it. Still, this guy was enraged, yelling, pointing, and gesticulating wildly. There was never any danger of accident or injury. There was no reason that I could see to be so upset. But man, he was angry. Honestly, I found myself feeling sorry for him. How miserable must it be to go through life letting other people control your emotions like that? It must be a wretched existence to be constantly angry at the world, believing everyone else is a fool.

Still, I’ve been there. Oddly, it was during my active drug addiction, that I was the most critical of everyone else, spending a lot of time being offended by the stupidity of others. I found that it helped me ignore my own failures if I could focus on the failures of those around me. That kind of thinking defined my faith at the time. I could look at the Ten Commandments and tell myself that I went to church on Sunday, I’d never murdered anyone, and I wasn’t committing adultery. So, I was doing pretty good. My faith was defined by the really bad stuff that I didn’t do. In my self-assessment, I dismissed my drug addiction, focusing instead on the stupidity of everyone else.

In today’s passage, God delivered the sixth commandment to Moses. – You shall not murder. Most of us don’t have to spend a lot of time worrying about breaking this one. Jesus though, later came along and set the bar a little higher. You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder . . . But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment . . . and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22).

We’ve all known those who’re angry at the world, believing everyone else is stupid. This is the exact mindset that Jesus described, saying that this kind of thinking makes someone as guilty in God’s eyes as the murderer. Why? Why is anger such a big deal? I’ve never killed anyone. I just hate stupid people. It’s precisely that kind of thinking though, that is lethal to our faith. We may not kill anyone in our anger, but still, our anger is poisonous to our spiritual lives, which is why Jesus equated it with murder. In our anger, we focus on others, ignoring our own flaws and needs. In our anger, we allow others to control our thoughts and emotions. If we desire to know life, joy, and peace, then daily, we must take our anger to God, asking what he wants us to do with it. We may never kill anyone in our anger, but as we indulge in it, our anger is killing us.

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