Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The killing effect

Pride rises up, making self the main focus - blocking our ability, or even our desire, to see how our behavior impacts the other person. Lies get told because pride cannot accept that truth could produce a positive outcome for one's own self. In time, relationships become brittle and break under the pressure of both. Today, we consider the issue of hands that murder the innocent. Most of us would say, "That doesn't apply to me, so you can skip that part", but let's take a look for just a moment anyway. You may be surprised to find that our English language has nine different definitions for murder - including the ones we commonly think of as the ending of a life either intentionally or accidentally.  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. 

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)

Destruction is inherent in this word "murder" - meaning we take steps (either intentionally or without much intent) to reduce another 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 or reputation 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. Remember, pride gets the eyes off others and onto self, lies come next, and then we find ourselves using those lies to actually "murder" the reputation of others. God is after the outcome - but to get at the outcome, he has to help us see the progression!

Extinguishing one's point of view or vantage point is another part of 'murder' - the purpose being to wipe out of existence so as to no longer have something 'count'. It is as though it 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 effect of extinguishing that dream can be quite easy for the one who is looking for affirmation and assistance. It is kin to the idea of smothering another - suppressing or concealing, enveloping another's thoughts or opinions in such a way that their freedom is suppressed. 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.

Maybe these are 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. A word in the mouth of a fool can 'murder' the one who it is directed toward!

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. Just sayin!

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