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Summary: A look at the 6th commandment, "You shall not murder," with the practical implications of what it means to maintain healthy relationships in a healthy society through respect for all human life.

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Respect Life (Exodus 20:13)

An attorney was speaking to a woman who had just lost her husband. He said to her, “Your husband did not leave a will, so we need to know the last words he ever said to you.”

She replied, “I don’t want to tell you.”

The attorney said, “Look, he did not leave a will. We need to know the last words he ever said to you.”

But the woman refused to tell him. “I don’t want to tell you,” she said. “It was something between the two of us.”

The attorney pleaded, “Just one more time, I beg you; please tell me the last words your husband ever said to you?”

Finally the woman relented. “Okay, I’ll tell you,” she said. “The last thing he ever said to me was, ‘You don’t scare me. You couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with that old gun.’” (R. Larry Moyer, “Right Smack in the Middle of Sin,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 148, www.PreachingToday.com)

Oh my! I hope none of us ever get to the point in any of our relationships where we consider murder. But as you and I know, relationships can go bad, and if we don’t actually kill someone, we can kill the relationship itself through our actions and attitudes.

I think of the third-grade Sunday school teacher, who was giving a Bible lesson on the 5th commandment: “honor thy father and thy mother.” In the course of the discussion, she asked her class, “Now, does anyone know a commandment for brothers and sisters?”

One sharp girl raised her hand and said, “Thou shalt not kill!” (Jack Seberry, Grand Rapids, Michigan, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader, www.PreachingToday.com)

It’s the 6th of the 10 commandments, and this morning I want us to explore what it means practically for the maintenance of strong, healthy relationships in a strong, healthy society.

If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 20, Exodus 20, where God Himself gave us this commandment. Exodus 20, and verse 13: “You shall not murder.” Four words in the English, and

only two in the original Hebrew. This is one of the shortest verses in the entire Hebrew Bible, but it’s a verse packed with huge implications.

Foundationally, it calls us to RESPECT ALL HUMAN LIFE, TO HIGHLY VALUE ALL PEOPLE, TO REGARD ALL HUMAN BEINGS WITH UTMOST ESTEEM as image-bearers of God Himself. This includes the poor, the unborn, the elderly and the infirmed. Whether or not they are able to contribute to society, whether or not they have a so-called “quality of life,” we are to consider ALL human life sacred, because every one of us has been created in the image of God.

Turn with me to Genesis 9, Genesis 9, where God speaks to Noah after the great flood. Genesis 9, starting at vs.1 (read to vs.3)

God makes it clear that all animals are fair game for food. Just as He gave us plants to eat, He also gives us venison, steak, chicken, and fish. The 6th commandment is not a prohibition against hunting animals for food, because animal life is NOT sacred. But human life is another matter altogether.

Genesis 9:4 (read to vs.6)

People bear the image of God, so they deserve to be treated differently than animals. In fact, human life is SO sacred in God’s eyes, that those who deliberately take a human life forfeit their own life.


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