July 18: “At least I’m not a murder”

As much as it sounds like a terrible oxymoron, I’m a sucker for a “good” murder mystery.  Obviously, murder is anything but “good”.  But, there’s something fascinating about the depths of depravity would lead someone to commit such a horrible act and then try to cover it up.  Plus, I think as human beings we have an innate sense of justice that propels us to see the case solved and closed… or to binge to the end of the season.  
The act of murder is about as heavy and terrible as it gets when it comes to sin… or at least so we think.  I mean who hasn’t had the thought “At least I’m not a murder” when confronted with the reality of our own sin?  It’s just easier to place our sins into a hierarchy of sorts… especially when our own sin seems to be towards the bottom of list. 
I can remember getting in trouble after fighting with my sister as a kid.  My first defense was probably “Yeah, but she…!”  Of course whatever my sister did  to me had to be worse than whatever I did and even justified my actions. 
The problem is that when we elevate the evil of some “big” sins (or the sins of our siblings), we tend to not give proper attention to our own sin.  This is the point Jesus is trying to make in this passage.  Everyone knows that we are commanded not to murder and that those who do are subject to the extreme punishment that they deserve.  In this passage, Jesus is saying that it is not enough to avoid killing people.  We ALSO need to avoid the underlying sinful anger and hatred that we are ALL susceptible to.  It’s sins like this that really reveal the condition of our heart… which is what Jesus is most concerned with.  He wants the way we think about, speak to, and treat others to be as big a deal to us as it is to Him.  He actually commands us to “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  The remainder of our passage today gives us a few ways to apply this truth and challenges us to prioritize reconciliation with those we may have hurt even before we give offering!
So what are your words, thoughts, and actions revealing about your heart today?  Are you leaving a “trail of bodies” by withholding love and grace to others?  Ask God to reveal to you today who you might need to reconcile with.  
Matt Carter
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