History’s First Recorded Murder
Like many of you, I’ve been greatly grieved by the barrage of senseless killings in our nation recently. As a result I felt the need to refresh my memory with the details of the very first killing mentioned in the Bible. The account is in Genesis 4:1-15, within the very first family unit God created. Let us not think for a minute that this “murderous spirit” that is running rampant in the United States (and the world) is something new. It’s far from a twenty-first century thing; in fact, it’s as old as the human race!
The first recorded violent act of murder occurred with Adam and Eve’s first two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. The account tells us that Cain brought an offering to the Lord, but Abel brought his first-fruits to the Lord. (Therein lies a great tithing message!) God was pleased with Abel’s giving, but not with Cain’s. And because of that, Cain became “very angry” (vs. 5). The Lord spoke to Cain about his anger problem, gave him the fix for it, but also issued a warning that if he didn’t deal with his anger, sin was waiting for him at the door. God admonished Cain to get control of his life before sin took control of him (vs. 7). He didn’t heed the warning, allowed anger to get the best of him, and almost immediately thereafter murdered his innocent brother.
God proceeded to have a conversation with Cain regarding the murder. Cain initially lied about it, but that didn’t get very far with God who is all about truth. But, to me, here’s the most amazing part of the story… God had mercy on Cain, a murderer. He announced a curse on his job, revealing that farming would no longer be profitable for him, and that he would become a fugitive and a vagabond (vs. 12). God had taken away his ability to prosper, but spared his life! And not only that, God also made him a promise that anyone seeking to kill him would suffer the wrath of God. “Vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold,” is what verse 15 says. God, in essence, placed Cain under protective custody. Wow, how is it that God is protecting a murderer from being murdered?
Because first and foremost, God is the only One who has the power to give life and take that life away from us. When we murder (apart from self-defense, which is lawful) we take that mantle of authority from God and put it in our own hands. We begin to play God. Secondly, God wills that we ALL come to a place of heartfelt remorse and repentance for our sins. There are no “big sins, little sins” with God. Whether we’ve committed murder or adultery, both will keep us from God’s presence, apart from repentance. God exercises great patience with each of us, so why do we respond with a murderous spirit regarding someone else’s sin? Sin is sin — mine stinks just like yours!
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Murderous Spirit Has Roots
We can see from history’s first recorded murder what the motive was… God said it was anger. Cain never dealt with his angry emotions toward God and his jealousy toward his brother, which in turn led to murder. A murderous spirit has roots, meaning there is always a motive for it, whether it’s revealed or not. Some of the most common roots are rage, suspicion, competition, revenge, cruelty, selfishness, division, wrath, envy, hate, as well as jealousy and anger which was Cain’s downfall.
Emotions run deep and negative ones like mentioned above will eventually destroy us if not conquered. As New Testament Christians, we love to remind people that we live under grace, not under the Law (of Moses). That’s true, but sometimes grace requires more than the law. For example: Under the Law, one of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). But under grace, Jesus Himself said that not only is murder a sin, but anger is also. In fact, He likened anger to murder. He said murder begins with an angry heart (Matt. 5:21-22). Jesus said that whether you commit the outward act of murder, or harbor anger in your heart, you’re in danger of the judgment. Unrepentant anger yields the same judgement as unrepentant murder.
Why Are You Angry?
We are an angry nation. White cops are shooting innocent black men and women. Black men are shooting innocent white cops. Black men are shooting black men. White men are shooting white men. Islamic men are shooting gays and heterosexual men and women. Children are shooting parents. Parents are killing kids. And on, and on, and on. I believe God is standing at the doorway of our hearts, knocking, and asking the same question he posed to Cain. “Why are you angry?” And just like Cain, our unresolved anger is manifesting through murder.
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Race Card
Many, including the Media, would like us to believe our murder problem is racial. That’s what the devil wanted me to think when my baby girl, my only child, was arrested by Federal Agents almost two decades ago. You see, there’s nothing new with the devil. He just keeps recycling the same old lies year after year, decade after decade. My white daughter was used by a group of young black men as a decoy for their massive drug dealing operation. She became their front-runner, the one dealing with the distributors. I mean, after all, no one would ever suspect a little 99-pound white girl of any wrong doing, right? It obviously didn’t work as FBI Agents stormed her apartment in the wee hours of the night with guns drawn.
Do you know what it feels like to get a call from the FBI… telling you your only child was just arrested, only days after her 21st birthday — and that she would most likely be spending the rest of her life in prison? For a split second I became quite angry at the black race. How could they do this to my daughter? Then God began speaking truth, a hard pill to swallow. But truth is truth. The reality was that my daughter was old enough to chart her own course in life. She had a free-will, and she used it to make destructive decisions. The same devil that lied to those black boys was the same devil that enslaved my daughter. It was a sin problem, not a race problem! You see, just like God is no respecter of persons, neither is the devil. His desire is to steal, kill and destroy, no matter what your skin color.
God would not allow me to pray for a pardon. He said, “She did the crime and she will do the time!” The years that followed were some of the toughest of my life. During one particular visit, I witnessed three generations of beautiful black women all incarcerated for drugs… a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. One of the saddest sights I’ve ever seen. That generational curse needs to be broken. But as long as our adversary can keep us focused on skin color we’re not praying against the real threat. We have a common enemy, and it isn’t the black man, and it isn’t the white man. His name is Satan. If we believe otherwise, we are greatly deceived. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The same spiritual entity that causes division and divorce in households and church splits is the same devil that causes division between the races.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Spiritual War Is Not A Race War
I don’t downplay the fact that our country is in crisis. But every time we call it a race war instead of a spiritual war we minimize the truth. We’re attempting to put a Band-aid on the symptoms without dealing with the root. I guarantee that the same white cops killing innocent black men in public are the same cops beating their wives in private. Prosecution is a good start, but it’s not enough. For the most part, prison doesn’t change people. I know, because I’ve talked to a multitude of repeat offenders. They’re released from incarceration carrying the same stinkin’ thinkin’ that got them there. There’s no rehabilitation. There was none for my daughter, and there is none for the countless black men and women who dwell in those cells. It becomes a place for the angry mind to become very angry, just like Cain. And an angry heart can eventually lead to murder.
Winning this war requires a divinely inspired strategy — a supernatural idea so powerful that no force can resist it. It may even seem strange to the mind of men. Consider this: living in love and unity with someone who doesn’t look like you. There’s a strange concept! What if tomorrow you made a conscience decision to bless someone whose skin tone is different from yours?
Today in the grocery store a dark-skinned older woman in a wheelchair accidentally knocked down a display. It was a multi-tiered unit that must have held hundreds of containers of deodorant. They went flying everywhere. Hubby and I were the only other people in that aisle, and we could have walked the opposite way, pretending not to see. Or we could have helped her young granddaughter who was frozen with fear pick them up. Yeah, that random act of kindness delayed us a few minutes, and I’m not even sure they spoke English, but that’s how you build bridges.
The time is always right to do what is right.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Work That Irritation And Make It Beautiful Instead
Most things aren’t worth being angry over. But I am certainly irritated with the amount of bloodshed being spilled on my America. It has to stop, but it will require a shifting in our mindset. I’m annoyed with divisive hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter, when according to God, ALL lives matter! The more irritated I’ve become the more time I’ve spent asking God how I can effect change within my sphere of influence. I’m an advocate against any form of social injustice. But I don’t want to just “run at the mouth” and contribute to the problem. I want to be part of the solution, and I challenge you to get involved as well. Roundtable discussions with the intellectual minds of our day are wonderful but while the Academics are stimulating their cerebrum there are some very practical things we could be doing.
Have you ever heard the true story of the Pearl and the Oyster? Basically, a pearl only happens when sand gets inside the oyster and irritates it. It is only by facing the irritants of life and creatively overcoming hardships that we, like pearls, can grow. If the resurgence of racial tension in America is an irritant for you, as it is for me, do something about it. Initiate change. Make it happen. Work that irritation and make it beautiful instead! Here are a few practical things to get you started…
- Invite someone (co-worker, neighbor, retail clerk, etc.) of a different race to your home for coffee
- Invite someone to church that doesn’t look like the rest of your segregated congregation
- White people: go out of your way to visit the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC
- Black people: don’t assume all white people are racist, discriminatory, and born with a silver spoon in their mouth
- Look for daily opportunities to serve someone with a different color skin (open a door, let them jump ahead of you in the check-out line, initiate a random conversation, etc.)
- And, most importantly, pray that God would reveal any hidden or deep-seated prejudices in your heart
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Human Race — It’s A Beautiful Thing!
I am a blessed woman. I’ve spent nearly 15 years in one of the largest multicultural churches in Central Florida, wherein 80+ nations were represented with a wide variety of skin color. I’ve preached to all-black congregations. I’ve prayed at Hispanic weddings and delivered the Eulogy at Hispanic funerals. My current Pastor is African-American with one of the strongest anointings to teach that I’ve ever heard. Some of my best friends are not Caucasian. To me, it’s like heaven on earth. The cry of my heart is for unity within all races — and I know it’s the desire of the God who created all humanity!
If you and I were exactly alike… God wouldn’t need one of us!
~ Glenda Motsavage
© 2016 Glenda Motsavage and Sozo Ministries International Inc.