Sunday, September 20, 2015

Self-Examination Questions

The Lord be with you

In today’s sermon I asked a series of questions inspired by Luther’s Small Catechism’s treatment of the Ten Commandments. They are found in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House (pages 1460-1462). The only modification I made was to add the words “elderly parent” in the questions concerning the Fifth Commandment. The sermon was titled God’s  Favor. You can listen to it by clicking on this link. GOD’S FAVOR.

Because there really wasn’t enough time to ponder the questions during the sermon, I’m posting them here.

The First Commandment
            You shall have no other gods.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

For the First Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “In What or whom do I trust most for financial security, physical safety, or emotional support?
  • “Do I fear God’s wrath and therefore avoid every sin?”
  • “Is my love of God evident in my daily life?”
    “Do I expect only good from God in every situation, or do I worry, doubt, complain, or feel unfairly treated when things go wrong?”

The Second Commandment
            You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

For the Second Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • Does the Gospel adorn my daily speech and conduct, or do I curse, speak carelessly, or misuse God’s name?”
  • Am I diligent and sincere in my prayers, or have I been lazy, bored or distracted? Do I trust that the Lord God will answer them according to His good and gracious will?”

The Third Commandment
            Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.  

For the Third Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Do I despise the Word by neglect or by paying little or no attention where it is read or preached?””
  • “Am I faithful in attending worship services, or do I attend sporadically, preferring to be elsewhere else when the Church is at worship?”
  • “Do I pray for my pastor and support his efforts to guard Christ’s flock from error?”

The Fourth Commandment
            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.

For the Fourth Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Do I submit to those whom God has put in authority over me?”
  • “Have I been ashamed of, angry, stubborn, or disrespectful toward my parents, teachers, employer, pastor, government or other authorities?”
  • “Do I obey all the laws of the city, state and country, and pay my rightful share of all taxes?”

The Fifth Commandment
            You shall not murder.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

For the Fifth Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Have I unjustly taken the life of anyone, born or unborn?”
  • “Do I hate anyone, or am I angry with anyone?”
  • “Do I hold grudges or harbor resentment?”
  • “Am I abusive (in word or deed) toward my spouse, children, elderly parent, or anyone else?”
  • “Have I ignored the plight of the helpless or been callous toward genuine need?”

The Sixth Commandment
            You shall not commit adultery.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.

For the Sixth Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Have I held in highest regard God’s gift of sexuality or have I debased it in any way by my thoughts, words or conduct?”
  • “Am I guilty of lust, indecency, or the use of pornography?”
  • “Have I reserved my sexual activity for the pleasure and consolation of my spouse, and when God wills, the procreation of children?”

The Seventh Commandment
            You shall not steal.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.

For the Seventh Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Have I gotten anything in a dishonest way?
  • “Have I made illegal copies of any printed material, audio or video tapes, or computer programs?”
  • “Do I faithfully attend to the responsibilities of my vocation?”
  • “Do I take care of what I have, pay what I owe, return what I borrow, and respect other people’s property?”
  • “Do I give generously, or am I selfish, stingy and greedy with my time and money?”

The Eighth Commandment
            You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

For the Eighth Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Do I speak the truth in love or have I lied in any way?”
  • “Do I gossip or take pleasure in talking about the faults and mistakes of others?”
  • “Do I uphold and defend the name and reputation of others?”
  • “Have I judged others without being duly authorized to do so?”
  • “Have I gladly and willingly found ways to explain in the best possible way the words or actions of those who hurt me?”
  • “Am I the first to admit my own mistakes, or do I cover up my sins and make myself look better than I am?”

The Ninth Commandment
            You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get in in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

For the Ninth Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Do I have strong wants, desires, or cravings that consume my thoughts?”
  • “Do I resent or envy those who have more than I?”
  • “Do I neglect my marriage, family, church, and other relationships in a desperate attempt to satisfy the wants and desires of my flesh?”
  • “Have my wants kept me from being happy with and thankful for what God has given me?”

The Tenth Commandment
            You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

            What does this mean?
            We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

For the Tenth Commandment we can ask ourselves:
  • “Am I discontented with the spouse the Lord God has given me?”
  • “Am I discontented with the job I have or the employees I supervise?”
  • “Have I neglected to urge someone to remain faithful to his or her spouse?”
  • “Have I wanted my neighbor’s husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, workers or property to be mine?”

After pondering such questions, if one is honest, then one will come away with an awareness of one’s own sin. THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO STOP.

REMEMBER, Christ shed his blood for you and grants you forgiveness. He has taken your sins upon himself and paid for them on the cross. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). So the place to go is not the condemnation of the Law but the forgiveness of the Gospel. Be assured that the sins you have thought of have been forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

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