The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9
Did you happen to see the news last night? Someone got killed. Oh…pick any location, the news is the same; someone got killed. Recently people were killed in the Middle East and in Russia through terrorist attacks. In Afghanistan it’s because of armed conflict. In Sudan the reason is the outset of civil war. People are being killed in large numbers. Here at home, people are killed on the streets, in schools, and even in their homes.
Believe it or not, we have all killed someone at some point in our lives. Killing doesn’t always end up with someone dying…at least not in the physical sense. Killing takes on many forms other than causing a person to cease his/her existence among the living.
What does it mean to kill? Sounds like a simple question with an obvious answer, but questions concerning biblical teaching are seldom completely satisfied with obvious answers. According to Luther’s Small Catechism, the fifth commandment means that we are to fear, love and trust in God so that we do not cause harm to anyone in any way, but rather we are to help and support our neighbor with all physical needs. If we do anything to cause harm to our neighbor, we are in effect killing a part of that person.
Bombs, bullets, and other weapons are not the only means by which humans kill humans. We kill each other in mind, body and spirit. Attacking a person’s character or reputation is a form of killing self-esteem. Making fun of a person’s physical characteristics or appearances kills confidence. These are just a couple of ways that we cause harm to others; through our careless remarks and actions, we make them less that what they were. In so many ways we do harm to our neighbors without even realizing it.
In light of the fifth commandment, we as members of God’s church need to be ever mindful of our neighbor’s needs. We should pray to God that we find ways to support one another, living the call of Jesus each day.
“Come you that are blessed by the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me (Matt. 25:34-36).
Loving God, give us the mind and the will to care for and protect the lives of our neighbors, building them up in faith and love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.