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Friday, September 10, 2010

Seven things God has strong opinions about - Part III

Here are six things God hates,
    and one more that he loathes with a passion:
      eyes that are arrogant,
      a tongue that lies,
      hands that murder the innocent,
      a heart that hatches evil plots,
      feet that race down a wicked track,
      a mouth that lies under oath,
      a troublemaker in the family.
(Proverbs 6:16-19)

In continuing our examination of this passage, we come to the issue of hands that murder the innocent.  Most of us would say, "that is not me, so you can skip that part", but let's take a look for just a moment anyway.  I was surprised to find that our English language has 9 different definitions for murder - including the ones we commonly think of as the ending of a life either intentionally or accidentally, and a terrible presentation of something causing us to say that someone "murdered" it.

What caused me to think more about this term was the synonyms associated with murder.  They are very descriptive of other ways we actually can "murder" an individual without actually taking their physical life.  One of the ideas conveyed in the definition of murder was the idea of being able to engage in a deplorable activity without incurring harm or punishment - we call this "getting away with murder".  What I have found is that most of us are "getting away with murder" as it applies to our behavior toward others.

Let's look at a couple of the synonyms:
  1. Destroy - to reduce to a state of uselessness.  Do we ever find ourselves engaged in behavior that actually reduces another's value or worth, either in their eyes or the eyes of others?  If so, we are probably engaged in a form of "murder" - the murdering of their character is just as significant as the taking of their physical life.  As a matter of fact, character is much harder to get back once it has been maligned or discounted as worthless, so the person attacked in such a manner actually has to "live with" the effects of this murderous action.
  2. Extinguish - to wipe out of existence.  This carries the idea of making the existence of that individual so insignificant that it is as though they never existed.  Most of us don't go around trying to make others look bad - thank goodness, huh?  Yet, we engage in actions or share words that can have the effect of extinguishing the hopes, dreams, or visions of others.  Most of the time we are not doing this intentionally, but for a fragile dream to be compromised by careless words, the affect of extinguishing that dream can be quite easy.  
  3. Smother - to be suppressed or concealed, enveloped in such a way that freedom is suppressed.  I wasn't very far along in my learning of the laws of science when I was first introduced to the concept that a fire needs fuel in order to burn.  It also needs oxygen.  If you have tons of wood and kindling, but you lack the oxygen, the fire is unable to burn.  There are times when we become "murderers" of another person's actions simply because we "cover over" them by our own.  Let me illustrate:  Say an individual is just learning to read and interpret the scripture on their own. You may have been studying for years.  They bring out an idea from a passage that God specifically showed them, but you jump on it with the idea that the passage really says....  You get the idea.  We can smother another's growth and development, almost "murdering" them where they stand.
Okay, so three pretty simple synonyms, but some interesting ways to look at how we can do more than take a person's physical life as a means of murdering them.  I think God is concerned with our attitudes toward others.  I believe he is interested in us learning what activities we engage in that don't build up the faith of another, or perhaps even impede their growth all together.  In exposing these actions, attitudes, and tendencies to us, he is also giving us the ability to "lay down our weapons" that end in murderous results.  

Don't get me wrong - God hates murder!  We cannot take a human life in acts of hatred or anger and have God dancing in heaven.  Yet, I think God is just as concerned with what actions we allow to occur with the use of our tongue!  The tongue is a powerful weapon and too often it is used without thinking.  A gun in the hand of a marksman is a tool to provide food for the family.  A word in the hand of a skilled orator or teacher can provide food for thought and growth.   

I just wanted to present a little food for thought this morning.  I really want God to begin to show us (me first) if we have murderous tendencies in our attitudes, behaviors, or words.  If so, then we need to allow him to help us (me first) change in those areas so that we are not destroying, extinguishing, or smothering others by those words or attitudes.