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From the Confessions: The Small Catechism
The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you).
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God so that we do not show contempt for our parents and others in authority, nor provoke them to anger, but respect, obey, serve, love, and honor them.
Pulling It Together
Seems right; if I did not respect my dad, he might have killed me! When he got out that paddle, I had cause to wonder. However, this is hardly what the Fourth Commandment means.
It is curious, even begging our attention, that this is the first commandment that contains a promise. Indeed, it is the only commandment that contains a promise. In order to more fully appreciate that promise, we should look back to the promise that prefaces all of the commandments. It is very precious, and will help us appreciate the value of the Fourth Commandment.
In Exodus, in the verse before the First Commandment, God promises: I am the Lord your God (Exod 20:2). In the statement of fact is the promise as well. What a promise! God promises to be your God. God is God, no matter what. And God is our God, no matter what—you may believe his promise. Bondage, sin, adversity, war, and even death cannot and will not alter the promise. He is our God.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being, not just God but, my God. Amen.
Click here for resources to learn the Ten Commandments.
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