Honoring our superiors – The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother.
What is this?
Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

– from Luther’s Small Catechism, trans. Timothy Wengert, (c) 1994 Augsburg Fortress

Perhaps in America, with our vaunted individualism and pride in self, we loose sight of this commandment. Who are the "others in authority" that Luther says we are to "honor, serve, obey, love and respect"? Luther writes in his Large Catechism: "Furthermore, in connection with this commandment, we must mention the sort of obedience due to superiors, persons whose duty it is to command and to govern."

By honoring, serving, obeying, loving and respecting our superiors – be they superiors in the family, among friends or peers, church elders, in civil authority or at the workplace – we are carrying out a vocation, a calling of love and respect that reflects and affirms our walk as disciples of Christ. In an era and culture that lifts up extraordinary acts of service, devotion or spirituality – acts most of us can’t acheive in the midst of our daily grind – this simple, every-day calling is a worthy of our attention.

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