Let me be clear and say that I’m glad not very many will escalate the devaluing and meanness that is so common into physical murder. Most of us will just give tit for tat. We’ll just Insult for insult. Most of us will merely reap divorces, estrangement from family and friends, and a background noise of woundedness and shame. But in so doing we will continue to maintain a garden in which violence and murder will continue to bloom.<idle musing>
As Christ’s church we are called to believe this seeming stretch of a connection between insult (which we routinely accept and sometimes proudly practice) and murder (which we roundly condemn and mourn). Further, we are called to model and live a different Way. We are called to bless even those who curse us. We are called to cultivate a fruit different from murder. Rather, we are to cultivate reconciliation, forgiveness, patience, gentleness and love. As we look at this most recent tragedy and rightly ask what we can do to move in the opposite direction, we need to hear and heed the warning of Jesus: murder begins with anger getting control of the tongue.
Amen! I would take it a step further back, though, and say it is the heart that causes the tongue to lash out. As I tell people often, Saul didn't set out to murder the priests at Nob (in I Samuel). He started out a God-fearing ruler, but gradually moved to the point where he could—without flinching—order the massacre of the priests.
That's the way with words. We start out "innocently" enough, but it doesn't stop, it escalates like a water fight. Eventually we're shooting not just words, but bullets. It all starts with the heart. And only Jesus can clean the heart.