Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Fifth Commandment

You shall not murder.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

With this commandment God instructs us how it is that we are to begin to bring honor to our father and mother. We start with the most basic of tasks: attending to the physical needs of others.
Often when we ask a neighbor if they believe themselves to be a good person they will respond, “Yeah, I think so. After all, I never killed anybody.” Murder is at the peak of our list of horrible sins because it is, humanly speaking, the worst. To put an end to another human life is despicable. Even soldiers in battle take another life only in great need. And often they suffer trauma for years and perhaps the rest of their lives because killing affects us in such a negative way.
And so most of us can happily say that we are “good” because we have never killed anyone. We might even be able to say that we have never physically harmed another person in any way. We console ourselves into believing that it is enough to refrain from physical violence. We are not hurting anyone, so we can do as we please, right?
No, that is not correct. We may not be hurting anyone, but are we helping anyone? The good Samaritan did not beat up the Jewish man on the side of the road. He could have passed by on the other side just as the Levite and priest had done. Rather he determined to help this poor man in his deplorable condition.
As Christians we know that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has paid the debt that we owe for all sins. But this is no reason to stay home and take an eternal vacation. This fact should compel us work even harder for the sake of those who need help. And physical needs are quite pressing in this day and age.
We who live in the United States of America have been blessed with a great many gifts. Those in other parts of the world are not as blessed. There are many different ways to help those in need through donations to charity, volunteer hours with a shelter, or participating in a service project or mission trip. We can also look out for the needs of people in our own back yard.
Let us find comfort, not in our lack of murder. Let us find true comfort in the forgiveness of our sins found only in Jesus. And let us be compelled to help our neighbor in every physical need.

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