“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
(1John 3:15 ESV)
When we think about the Fifth Commandment, our thoughts naturally turn to the taking of life. We think of all of the physical ways in which we might take the life of another. We think of the ways in which we might fail to save the life of another.
We might also consider and debate the many questions that tie in with this command: Is the death penalty a violation of this command? Is war a violation of this command? Is it sinful for us to use lethal force to defend ourselves, our family, and even our home?
All of these are important topics. And they do directly relate to the command prohibiting murder. However, there’s a way we violate this command each and every day of our lives that we often overlook.
According to the apostle John, we commit murder by simply hating our brother. This really hits home because we all have people that we detest. We can’t stand them and, quite frankly, we want nothing to do with them. We feel no love for them, nor do we want to demonstrate love for them.
John expands on this truth, which convicts us further. He tells us that whoever does not abide in love abides in death. He tells us that, if we see someone in need and we close our heart against him, God’s love does not abide in us.
Most of us are willing to help others who are in desperate circumstances. But it’s also common for us to be quite selfish. We’re often unwilling to help fearing that we might not have enough down the road.
He goes on to point us to Jesus as the perfect expression of love. He tells us that Jesus laid down his life for us. And, in the same way, we’re to lay down our life for our brother.
We must, therefore, confess the lack of love we possess for others. We must confess our unwillingness to help those in need, and our hatred for others. We must seek his forgiveness, knowing that this makes us guilty of murder. And we must ask him to work in our heart, we must seek his strength, that we might selflessly love and serve one another as he's called us.