We read in the Bible, “No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”
What can that mean? Does this even have an application? I am not a murderer; I’m not even tempted to be one. No one I know carries sinister thoughts of killing. We cringe at the thought of taking the life of an animal. Murder my brother? Surely the Bible missed it this time!
But wait, is there something more practical here the Book is speaking to in my life?
What about the brother I resent, who has that viewpoint that cuts across my grain? Might I have the same attitude a murderer has and not think about it?
Let us look at the verses again.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1Jo 3:14-16).
Isn’t it a given thought that the murderer does not want to become a guilty criminal with a tortured conscience for the rest of his existence? He does not want to spend time in jail; to lose his place in his social world. He simply finds his will contradicted by an opponent with a different agenda or set of values. As disagreement turns to bitterness, friend or stranger turns into an antagonist. The mind set of murder softly creeps into being through the musings of, “Isn’t there some way I can get this person out of my life?”
Granted, some people are more given to anger. In a fit of rage, thought processes turn to physical violence almost instantly. But for most of us, we have been taught to control our anger. So the thought softly creeps into our consciousness. “Isn’t there some way I can remove this person from my life?”
Let us think about Cain for an example. He had intimate knowledge of his victim. This was not random drive by shooting. These were men who spent many hours together, in an earlier time even dreaming of a future together. Cain’s view of Abel takes a negative turn when Abel’s offering is accepted and his is rejected. ‘So,’ he must have brooded, ‘His idea is better than mine. God doesn’t like my idea, my contribution. I wonder if he even likes me?’
As Cain’s strong desire to be accepted on his own terms and with his own offering grew, his appreciation for his brother with his gifts diminished. Cain’s struggle wasn’t all that different than some brethren struggle with after reorganization meeting or after an ordination. “So what is wrong with me? What does he have that I don’t?” and then, “I think we would be better off without that brother. There isn’t room for both of us around here.”
So Cain met his brother in the field and an irreversible tragedy resulted. The attitude left its tracks for God and all that primal world to see.
Love and murder each still leave their tracks. If there is a brother we love, we will seek to strengthen his hand in the work given him by God and the church. We will ponder his suggestions, support him in his weaknesses; extend a helping hand when he falters.
If we secretly wish to be rid of him, this will find its expression too. Our lip will curl in contempt with his old fogy ideas. We will deride the way he expresses himself, the position he takes on the various issues of life. We will feel his influence needs to be balanced or even controlled. When a tide of opposition rises against him, we will rejoice. When we have an opportunity to slander his reputation, we will cut it down just a bit. We would rather have him out of our life all at once, but then on the other hand, if we can just get rid of him one slice at a time, perhaps that is as good. When his work succeeds, it will gall us. When he is commended, part of us dies.
How shall we be rid of this murderous heart? Shall we nurse it silently until it takes us into eternity without eternal life? God forbid! Just as God has made it plain that He longs to save us from our sins, God also longs to see His nature reborn in us as His sons. As we see souls the way He sees them, as we are surprised that He loves us in spite of our unworthiness. As we seek God’s Kingdom more than protecting our own turf, then we will turn from murder to genuine Godly love.