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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 70

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From the Word: 6 Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of oppression, to set the oppressed free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to distribute your bread to the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you do not ignore your own relative? (Isaiah 58:6–7)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism 

The Fifth Commandment

You shall not kill.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God so that we do our neighbors no bodily harm nor cause them any suffering, but help and befriend them in every need.

Pulling It Together

The faith is not about religious practice alone; it is not even just about God. Our devotion to God is most keenly observed, not in our worship and service, as much as God cherishes these acts, but in the love of our neighbor. The greatest commandment joins the love of God and the love of neighbor, as if into a single command (Matt 22:37–40). The two tablets, one about our relationship with God and the other about our relationships with our neighbors, is one Decalogue, one set of rules, one word. Any one commandment cannot be broken without breaking the others. In particular, one may not break any of the second tablet without breaking the first.

We are commanded to love our neighbor, to care for him as though our friend. We are to love him as if he were ourselves (Matt 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8), even though he be an enemy (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). This sounds difficult, perhaps impossible. Indeed, as far as it depends upon you, I am sure that both tablets are not possible. However, the silver lining to the commandments is that they do not depend upon you. What is impossible for you, is more than possible for God—even through you (Mark 10:27; 14:36; Luke 1:37; 18:27).

Prayer: Open my heart to my neighbor, Lord, so that you are glorified by both of us. Amen.

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