The Value of a Life
Father God, You envelope me in Your love, eroding my fears. May I be transported by wonder and filled with praise.
Read Exodus 21:12-27
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
God requires us to act properly towards each other. This is in the very nature of biblical Christianity. Micah 6:8 reminds us of this: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The second section deals with personal injury, whether caused by a human being or by an animal. The law distinguishes between murder and manslaughter and offers sanctuary against vengeance while the due process of law is undertaken. In law, as in life, motive matters. But life is sacred, and to take a life deliberately is a capital offense. For a nomadic people, prison is not a viable option. The reason that the death penalty was demanded was not to exact revenge, but to recognize that all human life matters to God.
The law takes a severe view of kidnap and cursing. The latter is not just bad manners or foul speech but, as in many African societies today, can mean far more. Words have a deeper impact than we are often willing to concede, for good or ill. Injury affects a person’s health, physically and mentally, and also their capacity to provide for themselves and their family. So due and appropriate compensation needs to be agreed upon and guidelines are given to achieve this. Temporary injury is treated differently from permanent damage. This first mention of an eye for an eye and so on, is not to encourage vengeance but to limit compensation. In the words of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado it is important “to make the punishment fit the crime.” Some crimes have alternative punishments whereby a cash sum may substitute for more severe action. Case studies are given that are illustrative, not exhaustive, of the general principles that should be applied. Motive, circumstance and injury should all be weighed up in determining punishment. The object is to set up a system that protects the vulnerable and is also open to scrutiny and deemed to be fair. The whole system is constructed to avoid seeing any human being as expendable or to trivialize life.
Have you hurt anyone in the past? Then show kindness as a means of restitution now, anonymously if necessary.
Lord, show me where I have hurt someone by what I have said and done. Grant me Your forgiveness, and show me how I can best sort out the matter.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.