20/8/00 10.45 Family Service : Exodus 20:13-17, Luke 19:1-10

'Peace with my neighbour'

Introductory Talk

Get scribe. Anyone watch TV programme 'neighbours from hell' ? OHP List some of things neighbours can do that make our lives difficult. Then look at 'neighbours from heaven'.


Under 'neighbours from hell' did we put murder, adultery, stealing, lying, coveting ?

We are continuing the sermon series on the Ten Commandments, today we are looking at peace with my neighbour.

G.K.Chesterton wrote, 'The Bible tells us to love our neighbours and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.

Clearly 'neighbour' means more than just the person living next to us. Indeed, our actions can affect people all around the world.e.e pollution CFC's. So 'neighbour' can include everyone.

It has been said that this section of the Commandments are manward, they concentrate on how we relate to our fellow men and women. But at the same time they involve God and his rule over the world.

'You shall not murder'. This relates to the deliberate taking of life.

Why do we think murder is wrong ? - ask congregation.

1) It denies an individual the opportunity to enjoy God's blessings in this life.

2) God has control over whether we live or die. So we are taking that sovereignty away from God. Effectively making ourselves God, which is sin.

The sanctity of human life lies behind two news stories this week.

118 Russians have been trapped in a submarine. Western powers were ready and willing to help Russia, but their military chiefs didn't immediately accept help because of their pride. So endangering the lives of the submariners.

On Wednesday the government announced that they would allow embryos to be used for cloning experiments. The Bible suggests that God gives life from conception. Psalm 139:13, 'For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.'

Therefore, to strip and embryo of it's contents, fill it with other cells and pass an electric charge through it, is playing God and deliberately ending a life.

Similarly, I believe abortion is wrong. This usually involves the woman's cervix being dilated with instruments and the child either dismembered and sucked out by vacuum aspiration, or pulled apart with forceps, then scraped out. By 1996 over 4.6 million abortions had been carried out. Only 1% were carried out for 'substantial risk of the child being handicapped' and .002% to 'save the life of the woman'.

We looked at ''You shall not commit adultery" last week. But we should not forget that this will often affect two families and two partners. Here we have the sanctity of marriage.

'You shall not steal'.

Why should we not steal ? - ask congregation.

Because it robs people of what has been given to them by God. Again, we have people usurping the authority of God and the importance of property.

Stealing is not restricted to breaking into someone's house and taking their possessions away. Zacchaus cheated his countrymen by exploiting them and fiddling the books. Today people may steal from their employers by turning up late for work or leaving early, fiddling expenses, using the phone for private calls, and so on.

'You shall not give false testimony'

In this culture many crimes were punishable by death, so a lie in court could lead to death. A type of murder, if you like.

But lies and gossip can also lead to the killing of someone's reputation or their relationship with others. As Christians we are called to turn from this, and to be people of the truth.

'You shall not covet'.

How is this different from any of the other commands ? - ask congregation.

This refers to thoughts, or motivation, rather than actions. They all concentrate on possessing something, or someone.

But money and possessions are not the most important things in life. Zacchaeus found this out when he met with Jesus.

Sophia Loren said, 'My life is what I dreamed of. Films, marriage to Carlo, bearing his children. Marvellous. I only lack one thing - I do not know how to describe it. But in my life there is a void that is impossible to satisfy.'

There is hope for anyone, whatever thay have done wrong. Tell story of Humphrey Lubende from Zambia. He used to be a soldier and went on a 10 hour dirinking spree with friends. This ended with arguments and a struggle with a gun. It went off, killing his friend, and Humphrey was arrested found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death.

Whilst in prison he wrote continually to the President asking for a pardon, but got no reply. He said, 'It was all hopeless. You are isolated and kept on your own as a condemned person. You are not sure if you will be alive tomorrow. You are forever tortured in your mind. You regret the wrongs you have committed. But then, you cannot rewind events and circumstances. For a while I was kind of lost. But slowly my thoughts began to turn to God. I discovered the only source of comfort in such moments to be God's word. truly the Lord is good. Praise God !' Humphrey has since been pardoned by the new President. Humphrey was given prayer and Scripture materials by the Bible Society.

Jesus is the only one who can truly satisfy that void. Zaccheaus found this. Many of us here today have found this. Let us be grateful for all that God has given to us , and live life content to follow his ways, accepting his sovereignty.



you taught us that all who come our way are our neighbours.

Hear our prayer for those we come into daily contact with;

Help us to be good neighbours to them.

Give us the grace to overlook petty annoyances,

and to build on all that is positive.

That we may love them as we love ourselves,

with genuine forbearance and kindness.

For Jesus' sake.