Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Miss Doreen Roth
The birdfeeder is alive with sound and colour this morning. Red, blue, greys, and browns flash in the morning sun as tiny bird voices chirp and tweet their way through breakfast. The black squirrel has been swinging on the feeder again, scattering birdseed all over the ground. The sparrows hop around, freely eating whatever they wish. A flash of red swoops down from the pine tree, then quickly returns with seed in its beak. ItÕs a cardinal. A little shy of the crowd, heÕd rather eat hidden among the pine branches. The juncos have found a quiet place of their own beneath a patio chair to eat their fill. A nuthatch hops down the tree looking for something to fill his hungry belly. Smallest of them all, the chickadees dive in to snatch a few seeds in their sharp beaks to eat back in their tree, while the mourning dove nods her way through the noisy sparrows.

Then swoosh! A flash of blue and white fills the air as a blue jay swoops in with a rush, scattering little birds everywhere. Sparrows and juncos escape to the air, while the mourning dove moves over to make room for this rude newcomer. Strutting around a few times, the blue jay clears the area of any brave sparrow that has not flown away. Then, finally, he begins to eat, pausing after every bite to be sure no one else is getting any food. Where there had been room enough for all the birds, the blue jay has now taken over. No more happy chirping fills the air; instead, it is silent.

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We all might know someone who is like the blue jay. This person thinks only about him or herself and what he wants. We call him selfish. But wait! Stop right now and look in the mirror. You will see another selfish person there. By nature, we are all selfish people, always thinking about ourselves first. But this is not right. Read what God says about this in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandment, and find out how we should treat others.

The sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments teach us how to treat others. In these commandments, God commands (6) thou shalt not kill, (7) thou shalt not commit adultery, and (8) thou shalt not steal. Each of these commandments has two parts: what is forbidden (something we may not do), and what is required (something that we must do).

You may have heard the parable Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. If you havenÕt, you can read it in Luke 10:25-37. In this parable, we read about thieves that steal a travellerÕs belongings, hurt him, and leave him to die. Then we read about a priest and a Levite who walk past the wounded traveller, but ignore him. Finally, a Samaritan man comes along, and he stops to help the wounded traveller. Binding his wounds, he puts him on his donkey, and takes him to an inn.

Now, thinking of all the people in the story, which of the men do you think broke the sixth and eighth commandments? Yes, the thieves did by hurting the traveller and stealing from him. But didnÕt the priest and Levite also break these commandments? It is true that they did not hurt the traveller, but they did not stop and take care of him. They showed no love for him, and this also is breaking GodÕs commandments. Each of GodÕs commandments tells us what we may not do, and what we must do. LetÕs take a closer look at what each of these commandments mean.

In the commandment thou shalt not kill, God tells us that we may not kill another person, wound them, hate them, say mean things about them, or try to get even with them. Instead, we must do the opposite. Jesus explained this to all the people that followed Him to the mountain. He said, ÒYe have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.Ó

Can you think of a time when someone hurt you, said something mean about you, or did something unfair against you? God commands you to forgive that person, love him or her, and do something good in return to that person. If you continue to be angry against this person, God sees you as a murderer. Listen to what the apostle John writes in 1 John 3:15: ÒWhosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.Ó

In the commandment thou shalt not commit adultery, God is speaking to husbands and wives. He is telling them that they may not love other men or women they are not married to. Instead, they must love their own husband or wife. Paul explains to us what marriage should be like. He writes, ÒWives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for itÓ (Ephesians 5:22,25).

In the commandment thou shalt not steal, God forbids us to take anything that is not ours. We may not force anyone to give us something that belongs to them, and we may not trick them out of something. We may not be lazy or wasteful. All of this is a form of stealing. God gives each of us strength to do our work, and we must not waste the strength that God gives us by being lazy, or use it for wrong things. We must do our very best in everything. Can you think of ways that you have used the strength God gave you for bad purposes? This is stealing the talent God gave you to honour Him with.

God not only forbids stealing in the eighth commandment, He also requires something from us. We must do the opposite of stealing. Does this mean we have to give things to other people? Yes, it does! Maybe you give money in church or mission collections, give away clothing, or food for food drives for people who need it. That is good! But we must also help people right around us, at home and at school, in every way that we can. Listen to what Jesus said about this in His sermon on the mountain: ÒYe have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou awayÓ (Matthew 5:38-42). Can you think of some ways that you can give to others, starting today?

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Having eaten until he is full, the blue jay takes one last walk around the patio, his beady black eyes flicking in every direction. Only the mourning dove is to be seen among all the scattered birdseed. She ventures closer for a few more seeds, but puffing out his feathers, the blue jay chases even her away. Then, with one last glance around, he stretches his beautiful blue and white wings and flies off.

All is still again. Then a flash of red is seen among the pine needles, and a flutter of grey and brown appears from the hedge. A chickadee calls from the pine tree, and the cardinal flies down to the lowest branch. Two juncos swoop to the ground, and a third and fourth one soon follow. Little brown sparrows appear, and the nuthatch makes his way back down the tree. The sun shines through the branches, sparkling on the white snow, and once again tiny bird voices are heard chirping and tweeting among the birdseed.

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