The Fifth Commandment, when taken at face value, seems so easy to keep. You shall not murder. Got it! I’ve never killed anyone, so I’m good here. But Jesus takes this commandment to a whole new level in Matthew 5:21-22. “You have heard it said, ‘Do not murder’…But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will  will be subject to judgement…anyone who says ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

And the apostle John writes in 1 John 3:15, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”

So why did Jesus come and make this commandment so hard to keep?  Could this, too, be because of God’s desire for His people to be different from everyone else? It’s so easy to get angry, and stay angry, with those around us. So often other feelings lead to anger. Disappointment, embarrassment, insecurity, and many others can become anger towards a brother or sister if not dealt with. But God wants us to be in relationship with Him and to work through these feelings with Him so that we are able to have good relationships with the people He places in our lives.

If we think about Jesus’ summation of the Commandments we might see something. “Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor as yourself.” [1] Our relationship with God is our priority, but our relationship to our neighbors is a close second! Something not to be taken lightly by any means. Are there attitudes and behaviors in your manger that need to be dealt with? mended? removed?

Luther writes the meaning for this commandment “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” He points out that not only should we not harm our neighbor, but actually help and support him. A couple of verses come to mind that reinforce this. Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act.” And Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.”

So examine your manger. With whom are you angry? Is there anyone you would say you hate? What is at the root of these feelings? Can you turn them over to God and let Him heal you so you can restore a relationship? Do you answer the call to help when God places a need in front of you? What in your manger stops you from doing all God asks of you?

Lord of all creation, you have created man in your image and you have placed us together to be in relationship with one another. Guide me as I examine my heart for your people, especially the ones I find so difficult to get along with. Lead me to right relationships with those who have angered me…and those I have angered. Let all of this begin with a strong relationship with You. In the name of Jesus, amen.

[1] Luke 10:27