“You shall not…” (Exodus 20:13a)
As we look at the commandments, one thing that jumps out at us is that many of them prohibit something. It includes, lying, adultery, killing, stealing. None of these are good and God’s people are told they “shall not” do any of them.
For Christians, the law starts by setting the foundation (not the bar) for what it means to live out our faith. Of course, we know that we are not to do these things. And, at least on the surface, most of us probably get through most days with only “minor” infractions (a little white lie, a pen brought home from work, etc.). But Luther said, “The law always condemns.” What he meant was, even these little things we want to overlook declare that we are less than God’s intention and desire for our lives. When we honestly look in the mirror, we recognize our need for grace and are open to what God offers us in Christ.
So for Luther, the Ten Commandments were not a how to be good manual. Their contribution took on a different role in our lives. Martin Luther’s meanings frequently say something like, “We are to fear, love and trust God so that we do not…” This is the obvious part of the meaning of the commandments.
However, he didn’t stop there, he continued, “But instead…” and Luther would share what we DO instead. In other words, the commandments were not just a list of things we avoid. The commandments are the base from which followers of Jesus begin to live out their lives as bearers of Christ. So, we don’t just not tell lies about someone else, we also “speak to cast them in the best possible light.” It isn’t enough to avoid doing the wrong, we are called to go the extra mile in pursuing the good.
So, you if you are a bearer of Christ, how is it going? Are you able to not only try to avoid sinful things but even more committed to doing good with your life? This is the challenge of faith: to be less satisfied with simply avoiding mistakes and to be more concerned with doing the good that we can do with out lives.
The freedom of living a forgiven life frees us up to risk going the extra mile. Your faith is the basis for living graciously, courageously and confidently in Jesus’ name.