Everyone knows the sixth commandment: “Thou shalt not murder!” (Exodus 20:13). Murder is against the law. It’s a big sin! On the scale of one-to-ten, it’s an eleven.
(Excuse this interruption... While murder is illegal in our country, sixty-two million babies have been aborted, murdered legally since Row V. Wade in 1973. Sixty-two million! That’s more than double the current population of Texas, or almost one-out-of-five people living in the United States of America today. That’s too many. Just sayin’.)
Jesus took the sixth commandment and greatly enlarged its boundaries. The Master taught that while murder is a transgression of the law, hatred for a brother or sister is just as sinful. “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, ‘Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire” (Matthew 5:21–23).
Jesus said that if we harbor hatred for a brother, if we’re angry with a brother, or if we insult a brother calling them nasty names, we’re guilty. Jesus used an Aramaic word, “rhaka.” That sentence could be translated something like: “If you call your brother ‘camel spit!’ you are subject to eternal punishment.” Don’t do that.
A religious leader tried again (unsuccessfully) to paint Jesus into a theological corner. “ ‘Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands’ ” (Matthew 22:36–40).
Jesus answered the religious leader by quoting from the “Shema.” Shema in Hebrew means listen or hear, the first word of the Hebrew’s confession of faith. “Listen, Israel: The Lordour God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5). As He continued, Jesus quoted from the Levitical Law. “Do not harbor hatred against your brother... Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:17–18).
Anxiety, arrogance, and anger are sins. We may think that they are little sins, but that isn’t true. Sin is sin! Furthermore, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
If you’re dying day-after-day on death row, waiting for the needle or the gas chamber, guilty of first-degree murder, Jesus loves you. If you’ve “legally” caused the death of an unborn baby, Jesus loves you. If you’ve hated a brother or sister, Jesus loves you. In fact, there isn’t a sin in your past or in your future that can cause Jesus to love you any less.
“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV). Jesus took our sin and shame to the cross, cancelling our well-deserved “condemnation” (Romans 8:1), and granting us “peace with God” (Romans 5:1).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.