Young Pilgrim, having indicated to you in a previous editorial that I would again write concerning the Golden Rule and the second table of the Law, we will proceed to study the Sixth Commandment. Our purpose in this editorial is an achievement of a better understanding of murder, its causes and prevention, and how this relates to our lives. In connection with this study, you do well to review for yourself exactly what we believe the Scriptures teach concerning the Sixth Commandment. You can find this summary in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day XL, questions and answers 105-107.
Often we think of murder as an intentional ending of one’s own or another’s life. We would limit the concept of murder to the physical aspect. This is partly why abortion is acceptable to so many today. Many do not view the fetus as an individual being, but rather as a dependent type of organ in the mother’s body. As such, the fetus then becomes something which may be discarded if the patient (mother) does not wish to be bothered by it.
But murder is much more involved than something that is simply physical. Murder involves the nature of man. Murder involves enmity against God and His Law. And God’s Law concerns not only our love of God, but also our love for the neighbor, our fellow man, if you will. So we see that added to the physical aspect is the spiritual.
What are the causes of murder? Hatred against God and neighbor! The entire second table of the Law is encompassed. If we violate the Fifth Commandment and rebel against one in authority (parent, teacher, elder, policeman), we also violate the Sixth Commandment and commit murder.’ Have you ever rebelled in love? Impossible! If we violate the Seventh Commandment and do that which is unclean, we also violate the Sixth Commandment and commit murder. Is it possible to do in love that which is accursed of God? Likewise the Eighth and Ninth and Tenth. Can you in love take to yourself that which belongs to another? Can you in love speak that which is false? Can you in love delight yourself in the violation of God’s commandments?
There is also the desire for revenge which causes the transgression of the Sixth Commandment. The desire for revenge also comes from a selfish attitude. If one becomes offended and seeks to avenge himself, let him know the Scripture: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengence is mine; 1 will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19.
If because of wounded pride there is desire for revenge, it will also manifest itself in envy and hatred. (And so it is with abortion also. The fact is that the mother hates the unwanted child. But then our mothers are not always so pleased about pregnancy either.)
As far as envy is concerned, Young Pilgrim, do you see yourself in the picture? Have you ever been discontent because another person has an advantage over you? Do you have an ill feeling toward another person because of his position in life? Maybe he made the team and you didn’t. Perhaps you are envious of another person’s possessions? Possessions include not only material goods, but also, for example, an IQ!
The question which confronts us is: Which one of us is exempt?
There is still more involved. We have become expert at executing the sneak attack! We do not reveal to the victim our hatred, envy, anger, or the desire of revenge. Oh, no! Behind the victim’s back, we reveal it to others! Often this is accomplished by the spoken word. Do you know what James writes concerning the tongue? “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. . . . ” James 3 :6
Our deeds and actions illustrate our intent of murder also. Sometimes even our “practical jokes” or “teasing” leads to the ridicule and subsequent hurt of our neighbor. Everyone laughs, even the victim, but deep down he is hurt! Isn’t that a type of sneak attack? Such are the causes and means of murder.
We now deal with the prevention of murder.
Who among us is exempt from violating the Sixth Commandment? Are we not all depraved sinners? Do we not believe that total depravity is our lot in life? Yet the Heidelberg Catechism mentions the prevention of murder in Question and Answer 107, which you have just read as I suggested at the beginning of this editorial. (You did read it, didn’t you?
The prevention of murder lies in the Love of Christ which reigns within our hearts. The Love of Christ compels us to Love our neighbor. Our desire is not for revenge against our neighbor, but for obedience to God. And remember the Proverb for you, Young Pilgrim: “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render unto the man according to his work.” Proverbs 24:29. This leaves no room for revenge!
The Love of Christ which reigns within our hearts also manifests itself in various ways.
Consider kindness: Eph. 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Consider peace: Romans 12: 18 – “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
Consider hospitality: I Peter 4:9 – “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”
For your own personal study and development in a sanctified walk, I would encourage you to search out other passages of Holy Scripture that speak of Christian virtues. Discover what the Proverb means in your life. As your sanctified walk in this pilgrim life develops, may you, by God’s grace, reveal to others the Love of Christ in your heart.