Honor your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. (Small Catechism: The Fourth Commandment)
Merry Christmas in the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What better time than New Year’s to make a resolution to be nice to your parents! What better time to turn over a new leaf and start honoring them like you should! No more arguing over everything. No more ignoring them when they tell you to do something. No more loud sighs and whining when they ask for your help. How about it? Stop dishonoring and start honoring them! Good luck with that! Knowing the Fourth Commandment forward and backward still won’t make you keep it. The law is like that. It tells you what to do but doesn’t give you any help to do it. And when you fail, there’s nothing but condemnation.
What you need is not more of the Fourth Commandment. What you need is a Savior who saves you from your sin. A Savior who was always obedient to His mother and Joseph. A Savior who always perfectly loved His Father in heaven and obeyed Him. A Savior who will hang and bleed and die even for your back-talking and whining and dishonoring of your parents. That’s what Jesus does.
But that doesn’t mean we just blow off the Fourth Commandment. The New Man in Christ delights in the gift of the Fourth Commandment. God gave you parents! However imperfect and sinful they are, you can give thanks for them and strive to listen to them and do what it takes to make them smile at you instead of face palm in reaction to your actions.
This is what it means that in Baptism every day you drown the Old Adam, with his parent-hating-you’re-not-the-boss-of-me attitude so that he dies. And every day, the Spirit breathes life into the New Man in Christ, the New You who delights to love and honor your parents.
Sure, getting along with your parents can be tough. That’s why “try harder” is never the answer. Rather, through the forgiveness of sins, Jesus lives in us so that we don’t need to bother with New Year’s resolutions that fail, but can live in forgiveness that never fails. Merry Christmas in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
“You are to honor and obey Your father, mother, ev’ry day, Serve them each way that comes to hand; You’ll then live long in the land.” Have mercy, Lord! (These Are the Holy Ten Commands, LSB 581:5)