Q. Is it enough then that we do not murder our neighbor in any such way?
A. No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God wants us
to love our neighbors as ourselves (1), to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, and friendly toward them (2), to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies (3).
Read: (1) Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10; (2) Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:10, 18; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 3:8; (3) Ex. 23:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21; Prov. 25:21-22.
My family and I are a family waiting for adoption. We’ve been excited about adoption since Sam and I met. We love the vivid picture of The Gospel and as we pray and wait, our hearts grow excited to meet this little girl that will join our family. However, when we first announced that we were adopting, many people thought that was a terrible thing. “What if she has bad genes?” “What if she has horrible tendencies because of her situation?” “What is she’s damaged?” “Why would you ruin your perfectly happy family this way?” It blew my mind away, particularly because some of these questions came from Christians. See, sister, adoption and all that it implies is a way to love others and the truth is that it is incredibly easy to have a position and hold onto certain principles. Truth is that it is easy to sing worship songs and be content with that. But Jesus calls us into action. Christianity calls us into a faith that works. So let’s study question 105 of The Heidelberg Catechism to see what God tells us about ways to counteract murdering.
As we established in our past teaching, murdering starts in a heart that harbors anger. This is wrong. This is sin. This offends God because we exert violence towards an image bearer even if only with our thoughts. But God doesn’t only tells us what is bad, but in Christ, He truly transforms our hearts to hate evil and do good. Again, we don’t do good for salvation. We do good because we are saved. By condemning envy, hatred and anger, God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves and this comes because we ourselves have been transformed by Christ. So I want to look at what love may look like in our lives.
At some point in your life sister, you will be disturbed by something or someone. At some point in your life, someone around you will be in a situation that is so desperate that your whole life will turn upside down. It may look like an unplanned pregnancy; like your old parent with tons of needs; like an overwhelmed next door neighbor with many littles and huge economic stress; like a brother that has drug addictions. You will probably feel badly and go on with your life. But sister, that is not enough. Jesus calls you into those messes. Into family messes; into neighborly messes; into stranger’s messes; into a messy life that shines His light for His glory.
Your flesh will say no. Your mind will say that you have enough on your plate and are doing enough good by being a good wife, mother, friend. But again, you will feel the calling of Jesus to do more. So you will need to pray. You will need to pray for a heart that loves in a long-suffering and patient way. Because if you do without having a full conviction of Who you are doing this for, your heart will become angry. Yes sister; angry with your family; or your friend; or your neighbor; or the stranger who bear God’s image and you will harbor resentment and you will murder in your heart. So first and foremost you need to pray and remember your Why. You need to remember The Gospel of Christ.
And then you need to be patient and know that you will give without receiving. Sometimes you will give and even be let down. Your friend will chose an abortion despite your praying, your help and your committment to her. Your neighbor will forget to say thanks and maybe when you need help she won’t be able or willing to help you. Your brother will relapse. Even then you are called to love. So you need to be prepared to constantly keep your eyes on Jesus and not on yourself or on the person who you are helping. You need to remember that in your loving others you still need The Gospel of Truth.
Finally sister, you need to be humble. There will also be successes. Your friend will choose life and have a baby and settle down and thrive. Your neighbor will get into a groove and start showing how caring and fun and loving she is and she just needed a bit of help. Your aging parent will make some progress. Your brother will get a job and stay away from drugs for good. And then, it will become really easy to take the credit of that. So sister in those successes, you need to remember that your loving others was a part of obedience so that in doing so you and others may glorify God. In those successes, dear sister, you will need to remember that you still need The Gospel of Joy.
So dear sister, as you see as followers of Jesus we have a higher calling. One that requires dying to self and being disturbed. Going into messes that we want to avoid. Sister, Christianity is not about singing and assenting. Christianity is about trusting and doing. And so as I finish this teaching, I want to ask you. Where is God calling you to love today? And will you obey and trust that Jesus’ Truth will ultimately bring you joy?
In His joy.