March 8, 2023
Today’s Reading: Luther’s Small Catechism – Table of Duties: To Everyone
For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Back at the beginning of catechism class, and maybe even well before then, most kids don’t love the Ten Commandments. In fact, it’s usually the opposite, isn’t it? Between memorizing them and their meanings, many catechumens develop a hostile relationship with the Ten Commandments.
Rather than looking at the Commandments as a list to be wrestled into submission though, see them instead as a guide for loving your neighbor. I always ask my catechumens “who is your neighbor?” and they eventually learn the right answer: “anyone who isn’t me!”
Realizing who your neighbor is and how your relationship with all of your neighbors is affected by how you live out your faith and life is essential. It’s pretty easy to say that you’ve never murdered anyone or robbed a bank. It isn’t so easy to say you haven’t wished someone harm or pocketed something that wasn’t yours to take.
The key in all of this is remembering the First Table: Commandments 1-3, which deal with our relationship with God our Father. When we get that straight, when we love the Lord our God and gather together for worship and the study of his Word, that sets us on the path of loving our neighbor. It gets us in the right frame of mind.
Then, knowing how to love our God informs our love for our neighbors. The Golden Rule (which isn’t in the Bible, by the way) does help: treat others the way you want to be treated. In theory, this makes the Christian life easy—all the rules are there. All the possible ways to treat everyone are laid out in the open.
In reality, though, sin makes it a lot more difficult to love our neighbors as ourselves. Their sin against us, and our sin against them complicates things. Thanks be to God that our Lord Jesus has already kept these Commandments perfectly for us, that His Death and Resurrection forgives our failures, and His Holy Spirit guides us in the way to go.
How do you love Jesus? By loving your neighbors. And when you fail to love them as you should, Jesus loves you through them; especially parents and pastors who remind you that we love because Jesus first loved us. Thanks be to God that His love never fails! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and ever-living God, You make us both to will and to do those things that are good and acceptable in Your sight. Let Your fatherly hand ever guide us and Your Holy Spirit ever be with us to direct us in the knowledge and obedience of Your Word that we may obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Collect For Divine Guidance)
-Pastor Duane Bamsch is the Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley, CA and the President of Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.