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Being Intentional

Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’
Everyone is subject to the law. We’re not supposed to point at others’ sins when we get caught in our sin. We’re not supposed to think it’s okay for us to lie or steal because we follow leaders who lie or steal.

If the law tells us not to do something, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to do it if you don’t get caught. It means don’t do it. It means to stop yourself if you see that what you’re doing is going to lead into doing it. It means if you get close to doing it, stop and run the other direction.

Exodus 20:13 is a command: “You shall not murder.” If the law says not to murder, then bring life into your world, not death. Commit kindnesses, not crimes. Murder is not accidental, but intentional. Shouldn’t bringing life into your world be intentional as well?

How does one bring more life into the community?

I can’t imagine that a person wakes up in the morning and, for no reason, decides to commit murder. There has to be some kind of development that leads a person to that point. To me, it makes sense that one could take that in the opposite direction and find out what will lead a person to commit acts of kindness.

There are so many ways to think thoughts of life that may develop into ideas of appropriate actions that develop into life-affirming habits. If we consider those among us who need a little more attention, we might come up with a plan to use our own gifts to make someone else feel special.

I wonder how many people (some you may never know about) will see your example and start a life-giving trend in their own circle of friends.

Murderers and Other Disobedients

Isaiah 1:21
How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; Righteousness lodged in it, But now murderers.
The first chapter of Isaiah tells us that the faithful city has become a degenerate city. God longs to bring us back to him and set us back in righteousness, but we must obey him. God started out setting us up in beauty, but our sins have made it ugly.

Last week I mentioned that God’s job is vengeance. We’re supposed to stay away from that and let him do it. In Isaiah 1:24, God again says he will take vengeance on his enemies.

God intends to correct us and get us back on the right track. His will is for us to live in peace and order. But we can’t live in the beauty that God provides if we are disobedient and disrespectful to him. Adam found that out when he was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. We have to carefully watch ourselves and be diligent to obey God. When we allow ourselves to go crazy with selfishness and sin, we end up as unrighteous murderers.

In Isaiah 1:19-20, we read that our obedience brings blessing.
“If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Yes, we have all sinned, but there is hope in God. If we return to him and accept his love, there is hope for us.

Our Response to Evil

Exodus 20:13
You shall not murder.
God is all-knowing. God has all understanding and all wisdom. Yet we sometimes decide that we’re smart enough to pay someone else back for hurting us. We think we can make things right by removing people who make us unhappy. Removing them permanently, that is.

Why do we think, “I could kill him”?

God tells us he will repay, and we can be sure that he will judge his people. We are not to judge each other. We are not to take vengeance. That’s God’s job.

When we focus on doing our own job and let God do his, we will have more peace. Our task is easy. We love because God first loved us. Everything else is in God’s hands.

As we read in Romans 12:17-21, our responsibility is to live in peace. 
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We can get creative with our response to the evil of others. Some people just pray for those who continually get on their nerves. Others find a way to bless them with an opportunity or a product they need. Surprising your enemy with good deeds works amazingly well.

He's Your Brother

Genesis 4:9-10

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”

The first murder in the Bible was one brother against another. Cain rose up in anger at his brother Abel, whose offering was accepted by the Lord while Cain’s was not.

After that, Cain feared for his life, but God marked him. It wasn’t a red light on the forehead that we see in movies today when someone points a gun. It was a mark singling Cain out as one who is protected. His punishment was to live out his years as a fugitive and a vagabond, so God made sure no one took it upon himself to kill Cain. He went on to bear children who would carry his sin through the generations. Cain’s grandson Irad’s great-grandson Lamech (Gen 4:23) killed a man for wounding him. This is not the same Lamech who was Noah’s father. Noah came from the lineage of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve.

Do you think that God has forgotten you? God was there to protect the one who committed the first murder. Certainly God can protect you too.

God sees us and knows us and loves us anyway. No matter what we do, God still reaches out to us. Obviously, he’s not happy about our bad attitudes and bad decisions, but he loves us.

Can you think of a way to thank God today for his persistent love for you? Maybe you’d like to start a journal and record all of the times you’ve seen God’s hand at work in your life.