Morning Meditation: Taking the High Road

Yesterday following in-person worship, that is a question I was asked.

“So, now you are telling me that I commit murder? What a GREAT way to start my week!”

We all laughed, but based on the scripture we’d just read, it was also true.

Most likely none of us want to commit murder. If we were to share bucket list items for our lives, murder is not on any of our Top 10 lists.

When I’m working on Sunday’s messages, I don’t write a manuscript.  Probably because I learned “how” to preach long before I had formal instruction on preaching, my method is a little sketchy. I have the “Andrea system” which includes some standard questions that are always addressed,

“What do people need to know?”

“Why do they need to know it?”

“How will it make a difference in their lives?”

“What action can they take after hearing it so that their lives are transformed?”

I remember the key historical data I want to share. The scriptural context and cultural facts. Then I know the points that need to be addressed and what order those need to go in. That’s where I stop. I don’t think through every phrase, every example/illustration. And sometimes that gets me into trouble.

Yesterday, we read a passage from Matthew 5 about Jesus and his thoughts on murder.

He actually lays out an entirely different meaning for that word.

As I was talking through that point in the message, I realized that I was elaborating A LOT about the many different ways we could commit murder. And . . . I seemed to be going into a lot of detail.

“We can shoot people with a gun. Or we can stab them with a knife” (and I made large stabbing motions).

As I realized I was making stabbing motions in the air, I thought, “Oh my! I am QUITE fascinated with this whole committing murder thing. I should move on from the ways we can murder people before people think I have some deep-rooted anger that needs to be dealt with.” (I’ve watched way too many Criminal Minds episodes).

Interestingly enough, however, the way that Jesus talks to us about committing murder is not one we ever think about in our lives today. And we should.

He said, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.”

We murder each other with our words, with our anger.

That’s pretty harsh.

And true.

Words stick.

Once uttered, we can NEVER take them back. We can say “Oh, I didn’t mean it . . .” but once they are out in the universe, they are facts.

Jesus was quite clear.  “You are angry with someone? You are committing murder.”

Like I said at the beginning of this article . . . none of us consciously want to murder someone. But we are doing it all the time when we harbor anger.

Who do you need to talk to today so that you can let go of your anger? That is the high road – having that conversation. And it’s only in that conversation that we find peace!