I am a Murderer
Today’s readings: Genesis 8:1 – 10:32, Matthew 4:12-25, Psalms 4:1-8, and Proverbs 1:20-23
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ [Syriac/ancient Jewish term meaning “worthless”] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. [Matthew 5:21-22]
A few months ago, while working on an unrelated project from this blog, I stumbled across this video. It was pretty convicting, really, thinking about some of the people in my life whom I’ve either wronged or been hurt by. I’m not very good at forgiveness, really; in truth, I have the capacity in me to hold grudges as well as anyone I know, in some cases against people whom I’ve never even directly met, but rather heard stories of how they’ve wounded loved ones or, in a couple cases, how they have, for whatever reason, abused me.
It’s quite silly to begrudge someone you’ve never even met, really.
I should probably work on that.
Gary Ridgway has confessed to killing 48 women in the state of Washington between 1982 and 1998. In the video above, you’re watching the sentencing of a cold-blooded murderer facing the families of women whom he murdered, usually prostitutes and runaways and usually by strangulation behind after the completion of intercourse. Only a plea bargain kept him from receiving the eye-for-an-eye treatment discussed in the Old Testament; as part of working with the prosecution and local law enforcement, he gave great detail of how he’d killed all his victims in the King County [Seattle] area of Washington, giving whereabouts and detailed accounts of where he’d transported several bodies outside of the region to throw law enforcement officers off the scent.
It’s isn’t unnatural to despise men like Gary Ridgway. I do not possess the strength of character or faith to stand before the world in the fashion Robert Rule, the large man in the video above, did.
The thing about grudges is that they’re often as useless and petty as the acts [or perceived acts] committed against the individual holding the grudge in the first place. Further, we often forget that, while we begrudge others, we have no hesitation in desiring for those whom we’ve hurt to drop their resentment, to forgive and move forward.
Here’s the thing about forgiveness – when one releases a resentment against another individual, it frees not only them, but yourself, as well. I believe firmly that, if Jesus’s words come from God above, He does so not only because it is what God desires for us, that we move beyond the judgments and transgressions we hold for others in our heart, but also that we experience what Mr. Rule felt, a sense of a burden relieved.
Forgiveness isn’t easy for a lot of reasons. Sometimes the wounds inflicted are too deep. Sometimes there are mutual circumstances involved where both parties are in a place they cannot cede compassion toward the other party.
Sometimes it just feels easier to hate.
An honest question for my Christian friends:
Do you struggle with this? With whom do you need to seek reconciliation? What’s keeping you from doing so, and how can you break down those barriers?