Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Do we Grieve or do we Gloat at the Violence in our World?

Meditation for the week of June 17, 2012

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.  (1 John 3:15)

Recently I was in a Starbucks coffee shop.  They were playing Johnny Cash’s “25 minutes to Go.”  It is gruesome song about a man about to be hanged.  The lyrics say something about the whole town waiting to hear the man yell.  The sheriff also wanted to see him die.  I suppose the song was designed as a protest against capital punishment; but even if we believe in capital punishment, how can any person be happy when another person loses his life at the hand of another human being?  I write as one who has never been in war and has never had to defend his family during a home invasion or who has never seen his family suffer violence.  I know what the normal reaction of a father and husband would be in those cases, but somehow it still seems to me that if retribution is demanded by the state,  people should be grieving and not gloating.  Life is precious because it is God given.  Taking life should never be something that would make a person happy.  Taking life with with malice and premeditation is so evil that John says that a person who can do this does not have eternal life dwelling in him.  In other words, that person is not a Biblical Christian. That person is a murderer.   A murderer in this case is one who commits murder and is never sorry for it because we know murderers can be forgiven and saved.  Paul breathed out slaughter or murder against Christians, and yet he was saved and changed on the Damascus road in Acts 9.  But after he met the Lord and trusted Him as His Savior, he would never again have been considered a murderer.

Murder is the first recorded sin after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Cain, an unbeliever, murdered Abel who was a believer.  John says hating or detesting your brother is the equivalent of murder although I don’t think anyone would be judged for murder in a court of law until they had actually carried out the act.  Hatred is something that has to be dealt with by God alone since only He knows the heart of a person.  Unfortunately, hate in the heart often causes those who do hate others to commit violence and murder.

Those who do commit murder as defined by the Bible actually take life in an intentional premeditated way because of hatred. Provision was made for manslaughter in the old testament which was killing that was accidental and not premeditated.  Murder required stoning in the old testament while a person who was guilty of manslaughter could be spared by going to a city of refuge.

This song that I listened to bothered me because people were happy that they were going to watch the criminal die. The hatred for the criminal in a case like that might be considered just by the world, but it is wrong.  And since hatred and murder are the same in John’s eyes, how many of us as Christians find ourselves detesting other people and falling under John’s classification of a murderer?  People we detest may be people who have hurt us, they may be people with whom we strongly disagree or they may be people that are “not like us” and that we are prejudiced against.

As Christians we need to ask ourselves, “ Do we really love others or would our actions and conversations indicate bitterness and hatred?”  It is love to stand against and rebuke sin in a believer’s life.  It is love to point out to the unbeliever in Christ the need for repentance and forgiveness of ALL sins (not just certain sins) through faith in the death of the Lord Jesus.  It is hate to bear grudges and to want to “get even”.  Racial slurs have no place in a Christian’s vocabulary since normally we don’t use hate slang with regard to people we love.
I would hope that I am never put in the position of having to defend my family by taking another’s life.  Christian are to be in the saving business.  We are not in the killing business.  But where taking life is legal and where society considers it to be necessary, Christians should never gloat over the death of a guilty person.  In stead we should cry.    In addition, since hatred is murder according to John, Christians simply cannot hate or detest others. Our actions and conversation should reflect that. 

The Bible says that the Lord He was hated without a cause (John 15:25).  Hatred caused the Jews to murder the Lord using the legal system of the day.  We certainly don’t want to be like those who crucified our Lord.

A Christian should grieve over violence and murder.  We should never find it satisfying or entertaining in any way.

Bruce Collins

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