Saturday, April 13, 2013

Meditation on the 9th and 10th Commandments

The Ninth Commandment:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God, so that we do not craftily seek to gain our neighbor’s inheritance or home, nor get it by a show of right, but help and serve him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not tempt, force or coax away from our neighbor his wife or his workers, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

What is it above everything else that God wants from us?  He doesn’t need our things…they are His already.  If we outwardly keep all of the other commandments and show ourselves to be truly pious by what we say and do…all will fall short of the righteous requirements of God when it comes to the commandments against coveting.  Coveting is sinful desire that occurs in our hearts and our minds.  This commandment is not for the cheaters in the eyes of the world, rather it is for the most pious, who want to be praised and to be called honest and upright.
The difference between these two commandments may be subtle, yet they are given to protect very different things.  The ninth protects a neighbor’s inanimate (lifeless) possessions and the tenth protects animate (living) possessions.  Houses cannot be wooed away from their owner like a spouse or a servant can be, so it was important for God’s law to differentiate between the two.
All sin begins in the heart, and these commandments make that very clear.  The ninth commandment prohibits us from plotting to acquire with the intention of harming our neighbor.  It also teaches us to be content with what God has given us, and to be thankful for what I have by being generous with the things I have been given.  In the ninth commandment we should recognize that God has truly given everything that we need or that which is good for us.  Instead of finding ways to scheme against our neighbor we should find ways in helping our neighbor keep what is rightfully his.
In the tenth commandment God desires to protect especially those living gifts and assets which are beneficial and necessary for family life, providing services to others through laborers, and the benefits which one receives from raising livestock.  Our desire should be for our neighbor to keep those things that God has given him, we should encourage his wife and his workers to stay in their calling, instead of encouraging them to leave.  No amount of things will ever make us content until we understand that God has given us Himself.  He is our God and his will towards us is good and gracious at all times.  Only in Him will there be true contentment.
Our natural instinct is that no one wants to see someone else have as much as himself.  Each one acquires as much as he can.  Yet we pretend to be godly, know how to dress ourselves up most finely and conceal our base character.  There is no commandment that we are capable of keeping, least of all commandments that require perfection even in our thoughts.  It requires us to serve those who seem to us to have more than we do.  These commandments are especially directed against envy and miserable greed, but God wants to remove all causes and sources from which arises everything by which we harm our neighbor.
Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent.  Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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