The Sixth Commandment
“Thou shalt not kill”
Question: What does “kill” mean?
Answer: To kill is to take away someone’s life. Sometimes it simply means to “stop
something.” But, usually, we think of it as “murder,” which is taking away someone’s
life on purpose.
When the Hebrews were given this commandment by Moses, they believed it only meant that they were not to kill their fellow Hebrews. They were still permitted by society to kill their enemies in war, to slay animals for food and clothing, and to punish those who
murdered others unlawfully. However, over the centuries, “Thou shalt not kill” has taken
on a broader meaning for many. The respect for human life for all peoples, and a dislike
for the unnecessary killing of animals, has grown. People have tried harder to promote “peace on earth.”
Not only are people questioning our legal and moral rights to kill others in certain situations, we have learned through the life and teachings of Jesus that our angry or hateful thoughts and motives can be just as bad as an actual murder. Jesus taught:
“Ye have heard it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall
be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5)
Practice: Is there someone you know who often does something that makes you really mad? Are you angry enough to hit them? Rather than striking out, can you think of a better way to bring peace to the situation? Learning to control our anger like this is a good first step in practicing the Sixth Commandment.
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(Excerpted from “First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments”
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