THE WEEK OF TRINITY VI – MONDAY

LESSON: PSALM 1

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

This word is so lofty and deep at one and the same time that it defies all and any efforts to render it perfect obedience. This I not only attested here by the Lord; it is also proved in every man’s experience and feelings. Christ here touches on four areas: thoughts, gestures or signs, words, and deeds. No one can wriggle his way out here; we must acknowledge a verdict of “Guilty!”

It makes little difference what pious man or woman you take here as an example. They are normally quite friendly with people who do not get too close to them. But if they suffer some kind of abuse, if someone gets a little too close to them, they can become very angry on the slightest provocation. They can become incensed almost at the drop of a hat. Reason can never see its way clear to be well-disposed to those who do us an injury. Secular literature is full of instructive examples of all this, and there is also our own experience to teach us.

This, of course, is not satisfactory as far as God is concerned, but flesh and blood cannot do anything for us here. We must carefully note what God’s Word actually says to us in the commandment, “You shall not kill.” Who is meant by “you”? The hand? No! The tongue? No! He means “you,” with all that you are and all that is in you. Your hand, your heart, your thoughts shall not kill.

SL 11:1337 (5-6)

PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, even our best efforts to render Your Law the obedience it deserves fall far short of the mark of perfection. Help us in our efforts to improve our obedience to Your holy will, and forgive us our many shortcomings in this connection, in the name of our Savior. Amen.

Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:167-178.