What I Saw – January 4, 2020

I sat down in my prayer spot during halftime of the Patriots-Titans wild card game to do my evening prayers/devotions. I needed a word from God and asked for a word from God. When I opened the Moravian app, I found this:

This was quite a disappointment. I believed I needed an encouragement from the Lord, and instead I got a command. Not only so, but I got a command that I wasn’t likely to violate. I’ve never killed anyone in cold blood or otherwise. I’ve never come close to killing anyone. I’m fairly sure I’ve never even thought of killing anyone. Was this a word from God? Sure. But it definitely wasn’t the word from God I wanted. It didn’t even seem like the word from God I needed.

But I didn’t give up. I have learned that hearing from God (and further understanding what He is saying) sometimes takes effort, and despite my emotion-depleted state, I was willing to make that effort. I wondered why God would say this to me, wondered if not in a critical way but a genuine one. When I added in the accompanying New Testament verse, a teaching of Jesus, I suddenly knew. No, I never have killed anyone and probably never will kill anyone. But I also have not loved and prayed for and done good to and blessed my enemies, either. I haven’t violated the one command, but I have violated the others. And, like it or not, that is a kind of murder. Jesus famously states this in the Sermon on the Mount.

And if I were honest, I would admit that I was being tempted to commit this kind of murder. There are some people in my orbit who are close to becoming enemies (they may not be full-fledged enemies yet, but they are guilty of enemy-like behavior). And though I was only barely aware of it, I was beginning to entertain thoughts of treating them like enemies: of giving them the cold shoulder, of recruiting allied against them, if conspiring against them in some way. I certainly wasn’t thinking of praying for it doing good to them. I was, in short, developing a heart of murder; to put it in other words, I was beginning to think like the evil one and so would soon be using the weapons of the evil one, soon be behaving like the evil one. And now God was calling me on it. I believe this was a timely, intentional word from God telling me not to develop this heart of spiritual murder, tempting though it was and reasonable though it seemed.

The truth here is that there is more to God’s commandments (of which “Thou shalt not murder” is one of the greatest) than the letter of those commandments. There is a spirit of way or heart to them. I have always kept the letter. Now God is inviting me to the harder but far more glorious spirit/way/heart. And it is diffe, but it is also wonderful.

That’s what I saw on January 4, 2020.

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