Are you sure you have killed no one recently?
It sounds like the beginning of a murder mystery where the perpetrator lost their memory.
I mean, what kind of question is that? Of course, you have killed no one! Of course, I have killed no one! We would not be having this virtual conversation if either of us had committed this horrific crime.
It turns out we might have. There is a high probability that we have killed, and more than once. We could be serial killers without even realizing it.
Throughout this year, I have been reading books written by the late, Thrice Blessed His Holiness Pope Shenouda the III. In his series about the ten commandments, His Holiness reflects upon, explains in detail and brings to life the commandments handed to Moses the Prophet thousands of years ago.
I almost skipped reading the chapter about the sixth commandment, “Thou Shall Not Kill,” as I was absolutely confident I had never committed that sin and had no intention of committing it in the future, ever. For the sake of progressing in the book, I was tempted to proceed to the chapter about the seventh commandment; I am glad I did not.
As I found the chapter extremely beneficial and mind-blowingly necessary for our spiritual lives, I summarized the crucial takeaways below. However, I strongly recommend reading the entire book (and series) to grasp these concepts fully. The books are available in PDF format, for free on this site.
How many types of killings have we committed? Let us count the ways!
Killing by intention or by a thought
Didn’t think it counted? Neither did I. However, Pope Shenouda explains how the mere thought of killing is equal to the actual act.
“Imagining that person already killed in front of him which makes him feel happy and satisfied. This is killing by intention and has its spiritual responsibility, exactly like committing adultery by mere thought, or imagining stealing … etc.” P. 26.
Hatred is Killing
There is Biblical evidence to support this statement. Exhibit A, your honor!
“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” 1 John 3:15.
“You have heard that it was said to those [a]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [b]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ [c] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [d] ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [e]hell fire.” Mt. 5:21-22
So, are you sure you have killed no one recently?
Speaking ill of someone is Moral Killing
That comment said in the heat of the moment, while angry with someone, that we soon forget after we reconcile with them, leaves a lasting impression on the one who heard it.
Destroying someone’s reputation is a form of killing. Civil law has provisions regarding this practice. Celebrities often launch lawsuits against newspapers or magazines for publishing inaccurate (read totally fabricated) information about them. They are often awarded significant financial compensation under Libel law. If civil law recognizes the damage by slander, Heavenly law considers it killing.
Annoyance- Teasing-Bullying is Killing
How many times have we read heartbreaking news stories of children taking their own lives because they can no longer stand being bullied?
Pope Shenouda eloquently explains it:
“There is a sort of indirect murder such as that of nerve wrecking and teasing. For instance you may disturb and tease someone to the extent you wreck his nerves, and make him lose control and become very upset. He may thus have bad thoughts which may lead to deep sorrow, pain, vexation, irritation, sickness, high blood pressure or any other disease.” P. 30.
“Look deep, brother, inside yourself how many persons you have teased, humiliated, mocked or made subject to laughter, mockery and fun, and how many persons you upset, or caused to blush while talking with you. You are being accused of violating the Sixth Commandment because of doing all this.” P. 31.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” I should be or else I am a killer.
Refraining from giving help is a type of killing. Poor people are being killed when rich countries refuse to help them. When medicine or medical treatment is denied because the patient can’t pay for it, that is killing. When charity is not practiced, that is killing.
Let us examine what the Bible has to say about this:
“Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”
The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-25)
“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
Let me ask again: Are you sure you have killed no one recently?
We might be killing our children! We handle our children’s spiritual education. We took up this duty at their baptism. We took an oath to raise them in the love and fear of the Lord. We shouldn’t rely on Sunday School, which lasts an hour at most, once a week, and wash our hands of the remaining 168 hours that we spend with them. Failing to read the Bible with our children, falling to pray with them morning and night, before meals, as they leave for school is killing them spiritually. Failing to attend liturgy regularly, failing to partake of the Holy Communion, failing to keep the fasts and attend Vespers is akin to killing them spiritually. Gulp!
Pope Shenouda left no room for any other interpretation.
“So, if your child is not brought up properly, and his soul goes to hell because of your negligence, God will condemn you on Judgement Day and sat to you: ‘He will die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. (Ezek. 3:28)” p. 43
In closing, I was just as shocked, worried, regretful, and remorseful as you might have felt right now. Reading this book was a total wake-up call. I apologize if you found this article heavy to read or if it caused you any distress.
I wish I understood the spirit of this commandment years ago, which is why I shared my realization with you.
But remember: “don’t shoot the messenger.” That would be killing too!
Other articles you might enjoy: My Father who art in heaven.
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