There are three reasons Chase, age 11, would never murder anyone: 1) “It is wrong to take a gift of God”; 2) “If you think about it, I don’t believe you would want someone to kill you”; and 3) “You don’t want to go ZZZZ! in the electric chair.”
Yes, life is a gift of God. In the creation account of Genesis, God breathed into Adam the “breath of life, and man became a living being.”
God not only gave us physical life but created us “through his own image,” says John, 11. Actually, that’s “in his image,” John. This is the key to understanding why murder is so terrible.
The Bible doesn’t explain what constitutes the image of God. Though scholarly debate has raged through the centuries, certain facts concerning God’s image in us are indisputable, says theologian Millard J. Erickson.
First, every person is created in the image of God, so there’s innate dignity to being human. Second, God’s image in people has been tarnished — but not lost — as a result of sin. Third, there’s no indication God’s image is more present in one person than in another.
When religious leaders asked Jesus whether they should pay taxes to Caesar, he asked them whose image and inscription were on a Roman coin. “Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus said. Jesus’ logic implies that because people bear the image of God, their lives belong to God. And it could not be right for man to arbitrarily destroy what belongs to God.
“We should not kill because it’s against the Lord’s laws,” says Adam, 8. “You might not get caught, but in God’s eyes, you’re caught.”
The first murderer, Cain, thought he had committed the perfect crime. He killed his brother, Abel, and buried him when no one was looking, or so he thought. When God asked Cain the whereabouts of his brother, he replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
God judged Cain by placing a curse on him. Later, under God’s laws given to Israel, intentional murderers were executed.
Cain murdered his brother for the same reason people murder today: anger. The Bible says Cain became “very angry” when God rejected his offering and accepted Abel’s.
“God tells us not to murder because you’re supposed to love your enemies,” says Brandon, 10. That’s it — replace anger with love, and there’s no motivation to murder.
In Jesus’ kingdom, the world is turned upside down. If someone slaps you, offer the other cheek. If people curse you as they cut in front of you on the freeway, bless them. If they spitefully use you, pray for them.
“But what about my rights?” you ask. Listen to Matthew, age 11: “Because God has created everyone, their judgment is in his hands, not ours.”
God is capable of judging evil, and believe it or not, he actually loves those who are causing you grief. Have you considered that God wants to demonstrate his love through you?
“Our tormentors, no doubt, count on our resistance and anger to support their continuation of the evil that is in them,” writes author Dallas Willard. “If we respond as Jesus indicates, the force of their own actions pulls them off their stance and forces them to question what kind of people they are.”
Remember, “God made all of us and loves us,” says Meg, 11.
Point to ponder: Respect the image of God in all people.
Scripture to remember: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Question to consider: Have you allowed God to transform your heart so that you love your enemies?
The Kids Talk About God website contains free, online content for children and families. See the Kid TV Interviews. Print free lessons from the “Kids Color Me Bible” and make your own book. Let a 12-year-old boy take you on a missionary safari through the Mission Explorers Kenya for Kids documentary with curriculum. Print Scripture verses illustrated by child artists. Receive a complimentary, weekly e-mail subscription to our Devotional Bible Lessons.
Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
Copyright 2006 Carey Kinsolving