One of the great things about a blog is that you and I can have a conversation about things that I have written that may not have made sense to you or you wanted to know more about. I received a comment about my recent post about parenting through the Libyan massacre that reads: “This is what I’m confused about: (are still learning by the grace of God to stop being serial killers.) It implies they are still serial killers. Please explain!” I am happy to explain how Nicole and I are still learning to stop being serial killers.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matthew 5:20-22, ESV
Christ taught us in 5:21-22 that while some people believe only the actual physical act of murder is sin, in reality, murder is the just the final act of the sin of hatred in one’s heart. For example, the Columbine High School shooters went on a murderous rampage and explained the reason for their serial killing in their journals: they were angry at school mates for picking on them and not befriending them, and thus harbored hatred towards them. Murder was just the final act of their sin of hatred.
Christ taught us in Matthew 5:20-22 that to hate someone and yet not murder them does not make you good, that is merely half-hearted righteousness. You are still in the family of sin that includes murder: unrighteous anger, hatred, resentment. On the other hand, whole-hearted righteousness is to seek, through Christ, deliverance from the hatred altogether. This is what Christ was saying in the prior verse: Matthew 5:20. The righteousness of the Pharisees was half-hearted because though they would never murder someone, they were happy to be hateful–see 5:43. And Christ had strong words in 5:20 for those willing to hate, even if they don’t actually murder, “you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Whoa!
Sadly, I have harbored grudges; I’ve been resentful; I’ve been unwilling to forgive many people in my life. I have hated. I’ve had to work through that with the Lord. I don’t want to be righteous in the court of man (innocent of murder) if I’m guilty in the court in which I most want to be innocent: before my Lord. Thankfully, He Himself is the way for me to become innocent before Him–see Matthew 5:17. Christ didn’t come to do away with God’s standards, Christ came to finally make them possible! Christ forgives me for my hatred in the first place, and then as I work by faith to submit to His command to love and by faith in Him seek to obey it, I actually get delivered from hatred and resentfulness until I’m not harboring a grudge in my heart toward anybody. To remain free of resentment is an ongoing effort of submitting to Christ in my life about this issue. To this day, my flesh wants to allow resentment into my heart when someone is hateful toward me and I have to work through the biblical process of forgiveness.
So, I’m a redeemed and recovering serial killer, by God’s grace. Another thing I’ve found as I’ve worked through the sin of hate and resentment in my own life: I find it much easier to love people the world or Christians find difficult to love. I don’t judge or condemn those who have committed abortion because what they did in the body, I know I’ve done in my heart. I don’t hate those who murder or ISIS, because what they are doing in the body, I’ve done in my heart in the past. I do believe people should be brought to justice according to the courts in order that society can live safely together under God, but I don’t consider myself better than those who are guilty of sin in human courts. I pray criminals according to earthly laws are brought to justice in human courts; but I, more so, pray for all the guilty before God to be brought to justice in Christ’s death and to live free in Him.