Q: What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A: The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatever tends thereunto.
Matthew 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults is brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the fire of hell."
We discussed this a little bit already, and many times throughout this blog on the 10 commandments, about how the commandments are not just about the external actions, but also about matters of the heart. The verse for this week highlights this very well. Here we see Christ expanding upon the sixth commandment, addressing not simply the external action of killing another person, but expanding that external action to include verbal attacks on others, and addressing the heart issues that lead to such outward expressions of hatred.
Remember, this set of six commandments (5 through 10) are addressing the second part of the "Greatest Commandment", to love others as yourself. God is concerned here with not only the taking of a life, but also with our attitudes toward our neighbors, including our "enemies", and not only our attitudes, but also our words toward them. Whether we are killing someone with a sword, or piercing them with our words, as Proverbs 12:18 says, we are guilty of breaking this commandment.
This is what the Heidelberg Catechism is getting at when it says,
When God condemns envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to show patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness toward him, to protect him from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.
This is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 5:22, as well. We are to love (not simply tolerate, not put up with, but love) everyone who is around us. No doubt this is incredibly difficult. In fact, it's impossible for us! Thank God for providing a perfect Redeemer who kept this command perfectly for us! Thank God for the Holy Spirit, who works in and through us, making us more like Christ every day so that, for God's glory, we can strive to truly love all of our neighbors as ourselves.