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Don't Go Green

Posted by Pastor Christopher Hull on

Pray God He would your neighbor bless as you yourself wish success. Have mercy Lord! This is the closing for  Luther's verse on the 9th and 10th commandments in his hymn, These Are the Holy Ten Commands. What is the 9th Commandment? You shall not covet your neighbor's house. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, or get it in a way that only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it. What is the 10th commandment? You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor's wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.  Luther clarified what it means to covet further in the Large Catechism saying, "We are commanded not to desire harm to our neighbor, nor become accessory to it, nor give occasion for it; we are willingly to leave him what is his, and promote and protect whatever may be profitable and serviceable to him, as we wish that he would do to us. Thus these commandments are directed especially against envy and miserable covetousness, God's purpose being to destroy all the roots and causes of our injuries to our neighbors" (Large Catechism I.309-310). 

Now, you may not want your neighbor's house, wife, workers, or animals, but there's something that you envy about your neighbor. You envy their patience, their fitness, their intelligence, their reputation, their good looks, their eating habits, their self-control, their humor, their family, their job, their car, their outfits, their library, their movie collection, their underground pool, their popularity, etc,. All of us go green with envy everyday. We are envious of neighbor's we've never even met. Have you ever done that, coveted someone else's life who you don't even know. Have you driven by a house and said, "Wouldn't that be something." Have you walked past a family at the mall, or int he grocery store, and they aren't killing each other and mused, "Man, that'd be nice not to look like an insane person at the supermarket." Well, you and I go green everyday, jealous of what our neighbor has because we think we deserve it more than they do. The commandments not to covet are given to us to stop us from living a green life, filled with envy for our neighbor and wishing their downfall so we can have their stuff. 

Coveting is what got King David in trouble. He coveted Uriah's wife Bathsehba and look where that got him. Coveting is always the beginning stages of injuring our neighbor. God commands us not to covet because He knows that it doesn't end there, but instead the scheming in our head turns into action that harms our neighbor. As Luther concluded this section saying, "So this commandment remains, like all the rest, one that constantly accuses us and shows just how upright we really are in God's sight" (Large Catechism I.310). 

How upright are we? Well, doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that we are not upright in any way, shape, or form. However, Jesus is upright, the only upright and righteous one. Jesus kept the 9th and 10th commandments and never went green with envy. He didn't covet, but looked our for us and wished our success. This is why He went to the cross, so that we may have success and inherit eternal life. He went to the cross, was found under the law and received the full curse of the law in our stead. Jesus became coveting David and your green flesh. He became all your scheming and plots to get your neighbor's stuff. Jesus became all your deep desires to have and possess everything that God has given to your neighbor. Jesus became all these things in order that He could pay the price for them and free you from the consequences of breaking the law. Jesus rescued you from the wrath of the Father and the accusations of the devil. Jesus freed you from the desires of the world and the inclinations of the Old Adam. Jesus paid the price for this freedom on the cross in order that your envious flesh may be cleansed and forgiven and live forever in the resurrection. Because Jesus paid this price, the Father no longer punishes you for your transgressions, but instead has mercy on you and forgives you in His Son's Name. The only thing Jesus is envious of is you, to possess you forever to live with Him in His Kingdom which has no end. He is envious to save you and usher you into heaven to live with Him, The Father, and The Holy Spirit forever. So take heart, your green flesh is forgiven and your covetous ways absolved in the blood of Jesus. Take heart, you are forgiven, all envy acquitted and forgotten in the Name of Jesus.

Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.

Jesus' Sheepdog,

Pastor Hull 

Tags: 9th, envy, jesus, 10th commandments, absolution.