Nip it in the Bud


As we arrive at the Ninth and Tenth Commandments I remind you of something I stated at the beginning. We do not all count the Ten Commandments the same. Lutherans, along with Catholics, distinguish between the Ninth and Tenth which both deal with coveting. Most Protestants combine these two into one. They get to the number 10 by making the Second Commandment the prohibiting of making graven images. Lutherans view his prohibition as commentary on the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods.”

So this week we consider the Ninth Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house,” and Luther’s explanation, “We are to fear and love God so that we do not desire to get our neighbor’s possessions by scheming, or by pretending to have a right to them, but always help him keep what is his.”

To covet something implies more than to merely wish for something. It instead indicates wanting something very much. It has to do with an inordinate desire for something, especially, a desire for something that belongs to someone else. We might think of it as a strong craving. Envy and jealousy are strong cousins to the idea of coveting!

When we consider the danger of coveting we need to think of the old adage, “Nip it in the bud.” That is, it is best to destroy or suppress something in the early stages when it is more easily dealt with. Our neighbor is always in jeopardy when our coveting goes unchecked!

Here in the Ninth Commandment our neighbor’s physical property is the concern. Coveting can eventually lead to theft. In an effort to cover up pilfering our neighbor’s property we may end up lying. If we run into resistance we might end up inflicting physical harm. But perhaps the most serious matter is our violation of the First Commandment! For that which we have coveted has become our god! Once again, what is needed here is repentance and prayer for divine help to Nip it in the bud!

Since You Asked…

What do Lutherans believe is given in Holy Communion?

“We believe, teach, and confess that in the Holy Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present and are truly distributed and received with the bread and wine. We believe, teach, and confess that the words of the testament of Christ are to be understood in no other way than in their literal sense, and not as though the bread symbolized the absent body and the wine the absent blood of Christ, but that because of the sacramental union they are truly the body and blood of Christ” (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Art. VII.)

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10 that the bread is “a participation in the Lord’s body.” If the Lord’s body were not truly present, the bread would perhaps be a participation in his spirit. But Paul says it is a participation in his body!