The Second Wednesday of Advent at Hope, Jerseyville
“My Neighbor and I”
Sermon Text: Deuteronomy 5:1-21 and the Fourth through Tenth Commandments
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery.You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
These remaining six commandments deal with our relationship with God in that these things are His will for us and anything that is against His will is sinful and disobedient, like a child disobeying their parent. However, these commandments also focus especially on our relationship with our neighbor.
And we are not just talking about your parents, your husband or wife, your children, and the rest of your family. Nor are we just talking about the people you like or the people who live next to you, but your neighbor is every person you come in contact with. Whether they are above you, below you, or beside you in the pecking order, God gives us a detailed description of what our relationships are supposed to be like.
Yet not one of our relationships are anything like what they ought to be. We have disobeyed our parents, been angry with our neighbor, unfaithful to our spouse, selfish with our possessions, deceitful with our words, and desirous with our thoughts. We have sinned against and broken at least one of these commandments with every person and neighbor we have ever had, and we have had them sin against us and break every one of these commandments against us. Whether in thought, word or deed, or by a sin of omission, leaving undone that which should be done, or commission, doing that which should not be done. We sin against our neighbor and as a result our relationships, much like these commandments, are broken.
So what can we and should we do about it? How should we respond when we sin against our neighbor or they sin against us? What is the answer to broken relationships and broken commandments? Is it an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth that they sin against us so we sin against them to get back at them and get even? No, the answer is the same answer that God has for us when we break the first three commandments and sin against Him, the answer is Christ and His cross.
When our relationships with our neighbor are broken, we respond in the same way as we do when our relationship with God was broken, through confession and absolution.Confess your sins that you have committed against your neighbor to them and seek their forgiveness as you seek God’s forgiveness. And when your neighbor has sinned against you, do not hold it against them or even wait for them to confess, but forgive them just as when you were still a sinner, God sent forth His only Son to die for you.
That forgiveness, that undeserved complete and utter absolution and wiping away of all sins and transgressions is what mends broken relationships. That is the example we have been given, that we ought to forgive our neighbor as God has forgiven us through Christ. That is how He has healed His relationship with you. God has forgiven you and continues to forgive you of all of your sins.
He has blotted out and wiped away all the wrong you have done against Him with the blood of the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. By His sacrifice for you, your relationships are healed. By His sacrifice for you shining through you as you forgive your neighbor no matter the wrong they have done to you, your relationships with them can be healed. And by His sacrifice for you, He forgives you for any and every wrong you have done to Him, and your relationship with Him is healed. You are at peace with God. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.