Seventh Commandment and Coronavirus (Third Wednesday in Lent)
[Romans 13:6-10] For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For 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.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
By His Wounds You are Healed: The Wound of Stealing
Sin causes a wound. And that wound is mortal. We remember our mortality as we are reminded of the wound of our sins. Man is wounded to death by sin.
I am conceived and born wounded by sin.
This sin brings death, even when I’m young – and, ever since I’m born, I’m dying.
My sinfulness is a wound that makes me unclean to God. Therefore, I come into the world separated from Him. This is the lot of sin-scarred mankind – all born from a sinful stock of humanity, ruined by those first and original wounds of sin.
By my wounds, I cannot be with God. I am diseased in regard to goodness.
And, by my wounds, I am guilty. I sin in doing those things I know I ought not do. I know better, but I do it anyways. The sins I commit are self-inflicted wounds to my spirit and to my faith. Even as a believing Christian, brothers and sisters, I can wound myself mortally by sin. Sinning never becomes safe. Sin always wounds.
Sin is in fact a mortal wound. Tonight, we consider our self-inflicted wounds caused by our sins against the seventh commandment, “You shall not steal.”
As we read, our Small Catechism, based on the breadth and depth of Scripture, gives a good and thorough explanation of this command. Let’s remind ourselves again:
“You shall not steal.” What does this mean? “We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.”
There are really three commands in here: (1) Don’t take your neighbor’s money or possessions. This we all know. Don’t take people’s stuff.
(2) Second, is don’t get your neighbor’s stuff in any less than honest and forthright way. Not just, not take it, but don’t even get it in a dishonest way.
And we’ve all taught our children that leaving information out is the same as being dishonest. Don’t take advantage of what the other person doesn’t know when dealing with money or possessions. Always make sure the other person is as informed about the deal as you would want to be.
(3) Third, do help. Do help your neighbor in regard to his or her possessions, money, property, and income. Search the Scriptures. According to our Lord, to not give the help I should give is to steal.
This third part is especially important in this time of pandemic and self-isolation. Your neighbor in your family, in your church family, or in your neighborhood - may not have been able to buy up everything they needed for this time period. And things could become even more locked down.
Do help your neighbor. Watch out for their needs. You might have something extra that they lack. In a safe way, check up on each other and on others around you. In a safe way, give what help you can.
To not help is sin. To not help your neighbor is to strike a wound again your own soul. You wound yourself, and wounds can be mortal to faith. Be of help to others. And repent of a heart that wants to only look out for itself.
Scripture says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”[Philippians 2:4]. If we do this, we will always be keeping the Seventh Commandment well.
We read tonight, “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For 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.’”
So, the command, “You shall not steal”, means, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself in regard to theirpossessions and income.” God has loved you in regard to all that you have. Love your neighbor as God has loved you in regard to theirpossessions and money. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love as God has loved you.
“But I’ve sinned.” Have you sinned so that you’ve been wounded mortally? Yes. “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23]. But, know this, there is one who has been wounded for you. By His wounds, your wounds are healed.
Jesus, God’s Son, was wounded in His flesh for your sins. He made your self-inflicted wounds – together with the wound of sin you were conceived and born with – His own on the cross. Your wounds, though they be your fault, became His wounds by His choice. Jesus made your wounds His own that He might heal you. And He has.
Even this wound of death – this pending wound of death by disease – even this wound has been taken up and absorbed in the wounded body of Christ. He is wounded even in our wounds of sickness. And by His wounds we are healed unto eternal life and resurrection of our bodies.
“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” [Isaiah 53:5-6]
And Matthew 8:17 says, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
Jesus is wounded for you. In His wounds even sickness, sin, and death are healed. Amen.