Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 40 image

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 40

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[How many of us, asked to explain the purpose of the sixth commandment ("you shall not murder"), would begin by saying, "I am not to belittle my neighbour"? Heidelberg's reading of the Ten Words is completely reshaped by Jesus's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, and the sixth, which is probably the easiest one for respectable Christians to wave away as largely inapplicable—well yes, but of course I'd never do that—is rendered particularly clearly. No hating or insulting. No participating in the hatred or insults of others. No revenge. No self-harm. No envy, hatred, anger or vindictiveness. Instead, we love our neighbours with patience, peace, gentleness, mercy and friendship, seek to protect even our enemies from harm, and do good even to our enemies. It remains the most challenging, difficult, marvellous and fully human vision of the good life there has ever been.]

Q105. What is God’s will for you
in the sixth commandment?

A105. I am not to belittle, hate, insult, or kill my neighbor—
not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture,
and certainly not by actual deeds—
and I am not to be party to this in others;
rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.
I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.
Prevention of murder is also why
government is armed with the sword.

Q106. Does this commandment refer only to murder?

A106. By forbidding murder God teaches us
that he hates the root of murder:
envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.
In God’s sight all such are disguised forms of murder.

Q107. Is it enough then
that we do not murder our neighbor
in any such way?

A107. No.
By condemning envy, hatred, and anger
God wants us
to love our neighbors as ourselves,
to be patient, peace-loving, gentle,
merciful, and friendly toward them,
to protect them from harm as much as we can,
and to do good even to our enemies.

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