Cornelius Hanko is an emeritus minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Ques. 105 What doth God require in the sixth commandment?
Ans. That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another; but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: also that I hurt not myself, nor willfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.
Ques. 106 But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?
Ans. In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all those as murder.
Ques. 107 But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?
Ans. No: for when God forbids envy, hatred and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in me lies: and that we do good even to our enemies.
God is love!
Our God lives His own blessed covenant life in intimate communion of love as three persons in the one divine Being. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit experience intimate harmony and unity, joy and blessedness, as each lives His own complete life in perfect union with the others.
Only God knows and experiences true love in Himself. For God is love! Love is the bond of perfectness. Love is divine!
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” He loves us with an eternal love that impels Him to take us into His heart and life, and into the covenant fellowship of His glory. Therefore He sent His Son into the world, that we may have life through Him.
We were dead in trespasses and sins, children of wrath, even as all mankind. But GOD, Who is rich in mercy, for that great love wherewith He loved us, has quickened us, and raised us from the dead, and set us at His own right hand in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:1-6).
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!” We are sons, and in due time we shall be made completely like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!
Herein is love, that He loved us, and has joined us to Himself by the bond of moral perfectness, whereby we are united to one another in righteousness, holiness, mercy, and compassion.
“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us” (I John 4:12).
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
My neighbor is the person next to me, with whom I rub elbows from time to time. He is the one whom God has placed upon my pathway, that naturally and spiritually I may be influenced by my contact with him and he may be benefited by his contact with me.
That neighbor may be miles away, so that our contact is minimal, or he may be as close as the nearest member of my family. He may be a loving husband, a devoted wife, an obedient child, an affectionate brother or sister, a faithful member of my church, a friendly neighbor, a considerate boss, or a willing servant. But he may also be a tyrannical husband, a cantankerous wife, a stubborn son or daughter, a difficult brother or sister, an unspiritual member of my church, a bothersome neighbor, a demanding boss, a lazy servant, or even an enemy, or possibly a Lazarus who lies at my doorstep, filthy, well-nigh naked, and full of ugly sores.
That leaves us as children of our heavenly Father with the question: What kind of neighbor am I?
I must love my neighbor, each according to his or her relationship to me. A husband loves his wife in a different way than he loves his children, and he gives expression to his love for his children in a different manner than he does to a neighbor. A church member stands in a different relationship to us than does a man of the world. A Lazarus will obviously be treated differently than an enemy. But whatever the relationship may be, the spiritual needs of the neighbor must always be my chief concern!
The sixth commandment requires of us: Thou shalt not kill!
Killing is meant here in the sense of murder. Life is cheap these days. The news media report new murders every day, committed in sheer hatred, revenge, or fuming rage. The thief will take a human life for a few paltry dollars. Husbands dispose of their wives, and wives of their husbands; parents of their children, and children of their parents.
Drunkards endanger the highways, drug addicts stalk the city streets, terrorists endanger the airways. Suicide has become common among teenagers, as well as among adults. The abortion clinics snuff out more lives than the gas ovens of Hitler ever did. An estimated one hundred million unborn babes have been killed, and the murder continues day by day.
That is the kind of world we live in! That is the world that will soon wipe out all those who do not carry the mark of the beast!
Does this sixth commandment apply to me? Am I a murderer? On Sunday when this commandment is read to me in the church, it runs off from me often like water from a duck. Other commandments, yes, but this one rarely gives me pangs of conscience. One minister once wrote, “This commandment is like a drop of water falling on a hot stove. It sizzles for a moment, but soon disappears.” We need the reminder of our Catechism that “envy, hatred, anger and desire for revenge” are also murder in the heart.
Hatred lies at the root of it all. Now it comes to mind, that I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor. Hatred arises out of our old relationship with Satan, whose children we were, who himself is a murderer from the beginning. My sinful inclination is to hate my neighbor whenever he interferes with my plans or ambitions. Actually I criticize God for placing this man in my way. I wish him dead. No, I may not say so, but I do banish him from my thoughts and out of my life, as if he were dead.
This hatred manifests itself in green envy, red anger, and yellow revenge.
Envy. My neighbor has a nicer house, a newer automobile, nicer clothing, or whatever. He holds a position I would like to have, or draws a larger pay check than I do. He has an office in the church for which I am better qualified than he. What an untold misery I bring on myself as I mull over my lot. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even from your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain” (James 4:1, 2).
Hot anger. There is a righteous anger, which arises within us in our zeal for God and His cause. But there is also a flare-up of temper, a sinful rage that arises from the old man of sin. Our feelings are hurt, our pride is offended, our ego is crushed.
Desire for revenge. “He can’t do that to me.” “I’ll show him.” Forgotten is the admonition of the Scriptures, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).
We are all familiar with the expression, “If looks could kill.” We make ourselves guilty “in thoughts, words and gestures.” Nurturing evil thoughts, making rash judgments, judging a person’s motives, all fall into the category of murder. Sinful thoughts surge out in words. It is said that the tongue has slain more persons than the sword. The gossiper delights in spreading abroad the fault or sin of others, and always finds a ready ear for his choice bit of gossip. It tickles our pride. Especially when we already somewhat dislike the victim. The trouble is, that whenever I see that person this little, piece of gossip comes to mind. Irreparable damage can be done to a person’s career or reputation by the wagging tongue. A knowing smile, a raised eyebrow, a sarcastic grin speaks volumes.
As children of God we should give no place to these evils.
My God requires of me that I love Him by loving my neighbor!
I must love my neighbor as myself. Loving myself is not the same as selfishness or self-centeredness, nor does this love gloat about my faults and sins. Self-love means that I love myself as redeemed in Christ, sanctified by His Spirit to walk in thankfulness. That love must be gratefully bestowed on the neighbor!
A husband seeks above all the spiritual welfare of his wife. Parents who love their children are deeply concerned primarily about their spiritual development. Parents may give their children the best home, food, clothing, education, and all the luxuries money can buy, and at the same time neglect their spiritual welfare. A child who meets his parents in hell will not thank them for failing to show him the true values in life.
There are many aspects of this true love for the neighbor, namely, that “we should show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness toward him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good to our enemies.”
Scripture urges us to “seek peace and pursue it,” which often involves going the extra mile, confessing our sins one to another, or climbing the long, steep grade of pointing another to his sin and forgiving him. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19, 20).
Patience is bearing with each other’s weaknesses. We can stare ourselves blind on the faults of others, and forget the patience the Lord must have with us from one moment to the next.
Sincere meekness requires that each one of us regard the other better than himself. When we follow our natural tendency we have an inflated idea of ourselves: if only more people were like us. We fail to see the gifts and talents God has entrusted to others, whereby they serve their own good purpose in the kingdom of heaven.
Love is merciful. “Whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in Him?” (I John 3:17). We think of the cruel servant who was forgiven an impossible sum of money and turned about to demand of his fellow servant the mere pittance that the fellow servant owed him. And then there is a Lazarus somewhere near our doorstep. As Jesus says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto ME.”