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This Lord’s Day evening, we will finish the Westminster Larger Catechism’s attention to the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13).
In my recent studies, there were a few quotes that I thought would be very helpful to meditate on as it relates to where the Larger Catechism focused our attention last week through the Scriptures, our heart: “sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares.” This is where the outward aspects leading to murder come from. This is where the blood boils. And it is forbidden to let it bubble against our brethren. It is murder.
Such a heart issue, if not dealt with Biblically, may often come across in what is sometimes referred to as “passive-aggressive behavior”, defined by Merriam Webster as “being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)”. This behavior is just as murderous, if not more so, to our hearts.
Thomas Watson writes:
We must not injure another in his soul. This is the greatest murder of all, because there is more of God’s image in the soul than in the body. Though the soul cannot be annihilated, it is said to be murdered when it is deprived of its happiness, and is for ever in torment. How many are soul murderers!
How can passive aggressive behavior be said to be so deadly? For a number of reasons. As it has been said, “If looks could kill”; do they not often kill the souls of others? If we care to honestly look, we will see this is the case. As well, the subtle dismissal of indirect avoidance hurts. Moreover, such behavior is murderous, because it is deceitful.
Jesus says in John 8:44 that the Devil … was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
We tend to justify such actions to ourselves as meek and mild, but may the words of Thomas Ridgeley check our consciences and our motives,
…the honour of God is the only motive which excites holy zeal; but pride or evil surmise is generally the occasion of sinful anger … true zeal for God is attended with many other graces; and sinful anger with many sins–Further, holy zeal for God inclines us to express anger against his enemies with sorrow and reluctance, being grieved for their sin, and at the same time desiring their reformation and salvation; but sinful anger meditates on revenge, is restless til it has accomplished it, and is pleased with having opportunities of executing it … Sinful anger … designs or wishes evil to others, to promote our own interest and advantage.”
Remember, beloved, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15) The Lord Jesus warns us … whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22)
And, as Thomas Watson (citing Psalm 55:23) also put it, “Vengeance as a bloodhound pursues the murderer.”
Thou shalt not kill, beloved. From our hearts to others’, even through certain glances, or lack thereof. We’re all guilty of this behavior which bubbles over from our hearts. But Jesus Christ is the Lord of all, and of all of us. May we please Him from our hearts, and seek His cleansing there this Lord’s Day in worship together. That we would love one another more truly reflecting how Jesus loved and loves each one of us.