Reflections: April 7, 2021
Wednesday of Easter Week
By Alfonso Espinosa
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You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Text from Luther's Small Catechism drawn from Exodus 20:17)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "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's Small Catechism). Have you heard the old saying, "The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence?" Well, for our sinful nature, this is a highly accurate statement. The flesh is never satisfied. Its cravings and desires are insatiable. Our sin is never satisfied.
King Solomon described this problem in respect to the love of money: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money [or "will never have enough"]" (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Why is this true? God tells us why: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) These dark cravings easily turn toward our neighbor and what our neighbor has in his or her life, like their close relationships.
Have you ever been jealous of someone else? If so, then maybe it was because you envied their popularity, or even because they had or have a friend that you always wanted to be close to. When our sin zeros in on envy, coveting, and evil desire, then we don't want our neighbor to have what they have. Instead, we want what they have. This is how the Tenth Commandment is broken.
But your sin was put on Jesus! He took it out of obedient love to the Heavenly Father for you. He went to the Cross and covered your sin, including all your coveting, on the Cross; and He rose to prove that since you are baptized into His death and His resurrection you do indeed have a new life! That life realizes this: You have the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32). You already have the best of the best of life; in Christ, you have all things good and holy and lasting and rich! You don't need anything else! Now, because God takes care of what you have, in Christ you can help your neighbor take care of what they have. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
"You shall not crave your neighbor's house Nor covet money, goods, or spouse. Pray God He would your neighbor bless As you yourself wish success." Have mercy, LORD! ("These Are the Holy Ten Commands" LSB 581, st.10)
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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