Murder vs. Slander – Who Is Most Righteous?

This past Sunday, Dr. Tiller (a controversial abortion doctor) was gunned down in an act of cold blooded murder. He was undoubtedly guilty of killing many babies who were nestled in their mother’s womb awaiting birth. Although the Christian world should condemn the actions of Tiller, the Christian community should likewise condemn the action of Tiller’s murderer. Both are wrong. However, as it comes to the issue of murder, while we consider the actions of Tiller to be unjust and wicked acts of murder, do we as Christians condemn Tiller and others like him while condoning our own slanderous tongue?How often do we hear a message preached and think of someone who should have been present to hear it? How often do we compare ourselves to other people as if they are the measuring stick in eternity? We are all guilty of this type of thing at some level. If we were honest with ourselves, we often hear of specific crimes and sins being committed, and we size up our spiritual condition by comparing ourselves to that person. Even if we say, “God, thank you that I am not like that person.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provided a point to his hearers that is extremely convicting. As we consider the words of Christ in Matthew 5:21-26 – we need to ask ourselves this question: Who is more guilty before God and deserving of Hell, the murderer or the unjust angry slanderer?First, we see clearly that the murderer is guilty before God. That is obvious from the Law of God (Thou shalt not kill) and is written on the heart of sinful man – that we should not take the life of another human being. To commit murder is a hard sin. However, when it comes to something like anger – it is extremely easy to commit. To be angry at someone and lose your temper is almost a daily event. As Christ points out, the anger usually builds from unjust anger to slander and then to the height of slander – calling someone a fool (a Godless person).Jesus is providing two clear points. First, He wants everyone to know that the heart of the murderer is unjust anger. Nobody would commit murder if they were not full of unjust anger. However, as the passage of Scripture continues, it is clear that the most convicting point of His message is that the one who is guilty of unjust anger is just as deserving of Hell fire as a person who commits murder. In other words, to be a person who slanders another person’s name and character is to be guilty before God and deserving of Hell fire – just like the murderer. Jesus points out that it should be reconciled immediately to avoid the consequences of the sin.The clear application of this text to us today is that we should avoid measuring ourselves against other people. We must realize that we will be measured by God’s Word and nothing less. We must also realize that moral upright citizens who have never murdered or robbed a bank often have an elevated opinion of themselves. Slanderers are guilty before God just as murderers.The caution that we should heed in this text is also extremely clear:1. Unjust anger and slander can pervert our worship toward God. Jesus paints a vivid picture of Old Testament worship. Christ says that if you are bringing your offering before God (most likely a sacrifice in the Old Testament setting – possibly on the day of Atonement) and you realize that there is a problem between you and another individual, you should leave the offering and go seek reconciliation. After reconciliation takes place – then you should return and offer the gift to God.In our present day setting, we should be mindful of our praise, prayer, money, and other worship offerings that we bring each week before God. If we are not right with someone – we need to reconcile things before we continue worship. If we avoid reconciliation – we will bring perverted worship before God.2. Unjust anger and slander hinder relationships. Relationships are important and should be protected. If problems stand between two individuals – reconciliation should be pursued in order to mend the fences and reclaim unity that only the Spirit of God can provide. If reconciliation is not sought, the consequences both temporal (here in this life) and before God (on the day of judgment) must be received.Therefore, even if we have been wronged – we must seek reconciliation and forgive others just as God (through Christ) has forgiven us.For the glory of God!Pastor Josh Buice