Briefing: Have you ever arrested a murderer before? Have you ever arrested someone for minor theft? In your experience, what is the difference between these two law breakers?
Dispatch (Assignment): What definition does your agency or jurisdiction use for murder? What is the required culpable mental state? Read Matthew 5:21-30.
On the Street: When I was still in training, I arrested my first murderer. There was nothing glamorous about it. It did not meet the expectations set by watching too many cop shows and movies. She was a drug addict that killed the owner of a bar. It never made the news. I didn’t get any awards or recognition, just a lot of paperwork. The reason I bring this up is, although I may not have gotten any awards, I made sure all of my friends and family knew about it. Some years later I found my notes from that day. It seems that I made another arrest that day. At the beginning of my shift, I arrested a shoplifter. It was so uneventful that I have no recollection of it today.
Do you believe that murder is a sin, the same as theft is a sin? Do you believe that lying is a sin? Do you believe that sin is sin no matter what “degree” or “class” it is? I have a hard time wrapping my brain around this because I was trained to classify sin into misdemeanors and felonies. Then, we break them down into smaller penalty classes so each sin is judged according to its severity.
When I read this passage, I get the feeling that Jesus is telling me, “sin is sin”. The sin of anger that I committed today because someone cut me off in traffic is just as black and white as the murderer I arrested over twenty years ago. Sin is black and white, you either commit sin or you don’t. This is a sobering thought. It really puts into perspective just how much I need God’s grace and mercy and the importance of His forgiveness.
Highlights from this Read: In verse twenty-one, we see the phrase, “Do not murder”. I’m sure you recognize this from the Ten Commandments. Growing up, I was taught that the commandment was do not kill. The true translation is murder. As a LEO, this is very important for our line of work.
Verses twenty-three through twenty-four paint a clear picture for us. They tell us to never leave our anger unattended. We must face it and fix it. See more on this topic in the Investigational Resources.
For verses twenty-five and twenty-six, there is a great illustration found in Matthew 18:21-35.
Investigational Resources: For more on dealing with anger, see Ephesians 4:26 and Matthew 18:21-35. The study on Matthew 19:1-12 is much more in-depth on divorce. Also, see Luke 12:58-59.
Officer Safety Principle: As LEOs, we sometimes get into the habit of seeing everyone else’s sin as worse than ours. We sometimes see the worst that society has to offer and the worst in humanity. Stay humble and accept how much you need God’s grace and mercy. Pray for it.
from The Gospel of Matthew Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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