Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Lent 2021 - Second Table of the Law (Belt)

Week 2 – Second Table of the Law

February 22 – Pastor Belt

The Fourth Commandment: Honor your Father and Mother.

            There is enough work to do in this commandment that it would take all our lives.  The work that is given to children is the most God pleasing work in all the universe.  Why honor, love, listen, obey and cherish your parents?  They were the instrument that God used to give you life.  Your life is why we honor our parents.  Even if parents are weird, harsh, negligent.  Even if parents are abusive this horrible situation does not negate the commandment to honor them.  We are not called to love those who only love us as Christ puts it.  Family is the most basic building block of all society and where love most easily shown or destroyed.  If you hurt family, it is only natural to continue to hurt others in society as well.

            Parents should also see the implications that while they are called by God to stand in for him and raise children, that they therefore know who God is in both mercy and grace.  They should provide all things for their children and suffer the loss of all things in order for their children to walk before the Lord in faith and with their neighbor in love.

The Fifth Commandment: You shall not murder.  

            This commandment covers much more than not physically killing a neighbor.  Jesus himself puts it this way.  “If you even say to your brother, ‘you fool!’ you are guilty of hellfire.  We can murder our neighbor in our heart when we wish them ill, when we hope that they are paid back for what they have done.  We murder not just with our hands but with our thoughts and words as well.

            But this commandment also implies that we should help our neighbor.  “When you enemy is hungry, feed him.  When he is thirsty give him something to drink.”  When we care for people and tend to their physical needs of daily bread, we are also fulfilling the commandment.
The Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.

            A hard commandment to hear in a culture of sexual promiscuity and lewd speech and talk.  God loves marriage.  He loves family.  He loves our bodies.  Because of that he knows that the center piece of his creation is the place where the most pain and hurt can come with sin.

            Our bodies are not something that we can do what we want.  But we are called to honor God’s gift of marriage.  For men to not see women as property to be used but as fellow participants in God’s gift to life.  For women to not degrade their bodies but to see them as places where God continues his creative power in life.  The goal here is faithfulness to God’s design for marriage whether you are single or married.

 The Seventh Commandment: You shall not steal.

            This commandment, as Luther points out, finds its home especially in the workplace.  Employers steal from their employees when they do not pay them a fair wage for their work or withhold payment until a later time.  Employees steal from their employers when they do not do good work or perhaps steal company time by vanishing into the restroom or being lazy.  All these are forms of stealing, beyond what we are used to thinking of such as theft, robbery, or intellectual dishonesty.

            This commandment also implores us to help protect people’s possessions and income.  Watching our neighbors’ property, calling out others when they try to steal, guarding and looking after other people’s stuff, returning what we see lost is all ways on how we also keep this commandment.

The Eighth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

            In the second commandment we were told that we should honor the name of God.  In this commandment we are told to honor the name of our neighbor.  Our name and reputation is a gift from God.  When we lie, gossip, besmirch, use degrading language we are taking away our neighbors’ reputation.

            This commandment calls on us to speak up for those we know and don’t know.  When people are talking about someone who is not there our job is to stand up for them as if we were them.  “Love your neighbor as yourself” after all.  When someone does something that looks suspect, we give them the benefit of the doubt.  After all when we do things that don’t turn out how we thought we implore people to see our intentions.  Grant others that too.

            Ultimately, this commandment is perhaps best explained by the old translation of the catechism, “put the best construction on everything.

The Ninth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbors house.

            The last two commandments you get two for the price of one.  There are actually more than 10 commandments and how you break them up depends on who you ask.

            Coveting is our last commandment.  Coveting is similar to stealing, but it is something one does with their heart and being.  Coveting is not just wanting to take something or someone, it is wanting the person who currently has it to not have it.  Neighbor has a cool house?  How can I cheat them out of it and get it myself.  King Ahab does this in the Old Testament.  King Abab wants Naboth’s vineyard, is sad when Naboth says no to selling it, Jezebel, his wife, kills Naboth, Ahab cheers up and buys the land.  King Ahab pays dearly for it later on.

            It doesn’t matter if the coveting looks good on paper and is legal in the eyes of the world.  If the heart has done it with ill intent, coveting has taken place.

The Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, His ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

            This last commandment is similar to the previous one, but it makes sure you understand.  It is not just property that we should not covet, but that which is also associated with our neighbor.

            Workers, family, animals, livestock, land, any thing that God is given to another.  Instead our job is to encourage and support these fellow creatures in their calling.  If your neighbor’s wife is thinking of leaving, you remind her of her God given duty in marriage to stay.  If your neighbor’s worker is thinking of calling it quits, instead of vying for their position, you tell them to keep at it.  Fellow Christian thinking of going to a church that seems to have it all and wants to go to another church, your job is to remind them that Christ has called them here.  There is a lot of work to do here, and God grant us the strength to do it.

            These commandments are no joke.  God wants them done and wants them done perfectly and designed us for that.  He doesn’t want good enough, he wants them done without fail.  Fail and there will be punishments. Sin hurts you, hurts your neighbor, and hurts God’s good creation.  Succeed and there will be blessing.

            This tells us the law does 3 things.  First, it curbs bad behavior and evil.  Murderers and thieves think twice before sinning because of the consequences.

Second, the law reveals our sin.  This is the primary use.  The law wants you to be perfect.  But the problem is you have not been.  God’s law condemns you for it.  The problem is not God’s good law.  The problem is us.  Unbelievers are people who don’t see this.  Believers do see their sin because the Holy Spirit shows us.  When we see this, we fall on Christ for his mercy and grace.  Knowing he has been perfect for us and will change us by his love.

Third, the law is the guide for how we now live.  You are restored and forgiven in Christ.  Awesome.  Now what?  Well, here is God’s will for you.   God’s law is what God wants you to do.  God’s law is how we show love, all 10 commandments.  Work at it.  One day, the blessing is that you will automatically do this because your sinful flesh will be destroyed when Christ returns.  Until then, conform yourself to God’s truth.

February 23
Read Mark 3

February 24
Read Commandments 4-10 and the Close of the Commandments in the Catechism and the following readings. Attend Divine Service

Deuteronomy 5:6-21
Psalm 38
Galatians 6:1-10
Luke 10:25-37