Read: Genesis 9:1-29

Whoever sheds human blood,
     by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
     has God made mankind. Genesis 9:6

Wow – what a dramatic story we read in the previous chapter and today, we read about God’s covenant with Noah. In the calm after the storm the Lord speaks to Noah of promises and blessings, but also gives him a grave warning. In our focus verse God warns Noah, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”

“In the image of God has God made mankind.” Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Every person on this vast planet is made in the image of our Lord. Our next door neighbor was made in the image of God. Country music star Brad Paisley was made in the image of God. The politician we love to complain about was made in the image of God. Michael Jordan, Mother Teresa, perpetrators of heinous crimes, you, me – we’re all made in the image of God. People of every tribe, tongue and nation – all made in the image of God. It really is a beautiful picture!

But with this incredible picture comes the dire warning, “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.” Now, most of us never have and never will actually kill someone. So how does this apply to us other than make us say, “Yeah, those bad guys are going to get their just rewards!”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the command “you shall not murder” and takes it up a notch. In Matthew 5:21-22 He says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Whoa, back it up here. Are we saying that anger, hatred, calling someone an “idiot” is the same as murder? Um, well, it does appear so. Hey, this is Jesus talking, not me.

A commentary I read said, “But Jesus presses beyond behavior specifically punished by law to the kind of heart that generates such behavior. Anger that would generate murder if unimpeded is the spiritual equivalent of murder (1 Jn 3:15). God has never merely wanted people to obey rules; he wants them to be holy as he is, to value what he values.”

I stink at this. It’s so easy to say something hateful to the TV about a politician, for example, and think that it’s ok – it’s not hurting anyone. But my statements really say more about me than about the person I’m sounding off about. This person that was made in God’s image. God is offended by it. And my heart is blackened by it. Yuck.

So though I will never purposefully take the life of another, I will be held accountable for “the kind of heart that generates such behavior.” It really is a heart issue, and I think I need to give God free reign to work on my heart. How about you?

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for committing murder in my heart. Please take my heart and wash it clean so I can live a life – outwardly and inwardly – that brings you honor and glory and puts a smile on your face. Thank you for loving me and holding me to a higher standard that makes me a better person. I love you! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

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