Lenten Devotional: February 16th
You shall not murder.
Well this should be a fun devotional...
Did you notice that the verse for today is "You shall not murder" rather than "You shall not kill" but killing in an unlawful manner? If you think about it, this makes sense because there is a whole lot of violence in the Bible that God seems okay with. (I might have to debate that sometime, because I'm not sure God really is okay with it.) Much like our penal code the Bible seems to offer loopholes for war, self-defense, the defense of another, or your property.
So don't murder. Killing = okay; murder = bad. Frankly, this is not a helpful distinction for me.
I've never killed anyone, nor have I been tempted too, despite what I said to my sister during our teenage years. It's never even come close to encroaching on my worldview. I hear folks bring up this commandment in discussions about everything from abortion to euthanasia to veganism, but those are still issues outside my perspective.
So today I am pondering quality of life, and how I can refrain from harming others. Should simply "not murder" be the base on which I judge my actions? I'm bigger than that. I'm in no danger of harming another person physically, but my decisions absolutely have the power to hurt others. I am a powerful person.
- I have the power to support or withdraw my support from companies that practice unethical labor practices, here and abroad.
- I have the power to purchase or reject products that are marketed by exploiting women.
- I have the power to participate in my country's justice system and sit on a jury to decide innocence or guilt (even though it may take up a whole day of my precious time).
- I can respond to racist, sexist, or other harmful stereotypes, comments, and jokes and renounce them as an appropriate venue of humor.
- I have the power to engage in friendly discourse rather than hateful diatribes on issues of disagreement.
- I can give my time, talents, and resources to help those who are less fortunate than I am.
- I can welcome the stranger.
- I have the power to be an example of Christ's love to each person I encounter.
- I am a beloved child of God who is heard and appreciated by her creator.
You are all of these things, too. You have these powers today as we walk this road of preparation. As we remember the events that led up to Christ's redeeming sacrifice of his life, let's ask ourselves and each other: what are we doing with our power?
Step 1: Do not murder.
Step 2: Better the world.
What are you going to do? What CAN you do? What is God calling you to do? May God be with us as we set out to improve quality of life and recognize the sanctity of life in those we meet.
"In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit,
we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks
and to live holy and joyful lives,
even as we watch for God's new heaven and new earth,
praying, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
– A Brief Statement of Faith
Rev. Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church