Post by Pastor Tim. The ultimate goal of Christian memorization should not be the memorizing alone, but rather the application and doing of the things that are memorized! I wanted to share with you a few ways that my family has taken the Ten Commandments from memorization to practical usage.
1. We (as well our whole church family) have begun to incorporate the Ten Commandments into our time of confession. It has always been far too easy for me to look at the Ten Commandments and feel like “I’m doing alright.” But the reality is that I have often failed to properly examine my life in light of the Commandments that I was memorizing.
This is where the Beichtspiegel (confessional mirror) comes in. It’s a tool that uses the Ten Commandments to help you examine your life more deeply. For each commandment, it asks you a series of questions in order to help you engage in honest reflection and confession. To give you an idea of what it’s all about, I’ve copied an excerpt below from the Beichtspiegel on the Sixth Commandment (You shall not commit murder):
Some people imagine that because they have not killed anyone with their own hands or caused someone to die, that this commandment has been kept. However, there are many other ways to hurt and harm your neighbor or in other words “kill” your neighbor.
Have I hurt or harmed my neighbor by physical hitting or by destructive words? Have I murdered my neighbor’s reputation by speaking harmful words about him? Have I acted as though my neighbor is a treasured gift from God?
Simply leaving my neighbor alone does not fulfill this commandment. Have I helped my neighbor in every physical need, or only when it was convenient, if at all? Have I passed up the opportunity to do good to my neighbor? Have I allowed hunger, temperature, or loneliness to kill my neighbor out of my laziness, comfort, indifference, or on purpose? Have I prayed for my friends and enemies alike, that nothing evil or bad would happen to them? Have I held grudges?
2. Our two older children (still quite young at 10 and 8) have recently encountered situations at school involving the Third Commandment (You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain). My son recently heard another boy at school using the name of Jesus in a flippant manner. He actually didn’t know what to make of the situation, due to the fact that he had never heard Jesus’ name used in quite that same way. It didn’t take him long though to remember the Commandment, and understand why we use don’t use Christ’s name like others.
Our daughter was involved in a similar situation in which she challenged the other student. She didn’t do it in a confrontational manner; in fact she didn’t even mention the inappropriate language that was being used. Instead, she later asked the girl if she had a Bible and if not if she would like one. Our family then purchased a Bible for this young girl and our daughter not only gave the Bible to the girl, but also witnessed to the girl by sharing a few of her favorite (and memorized) Scripture verses!
Memorizing is foundational to the Christian life, but it is only the first step in a long process of discipleship. Psalm 119 gives us many reasons why memorization is useful including verse 11 which says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Ultimately, Christian memorization is one of the first steps in living out the Christian life and “doing the word” to the glory and praise of God!
What happened to the second commandment on the Confessional Mirror (You shall not make for yourself any idols. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.)?
Hi Valerie – great question! The Confessional Mirror was created by the Lutherans, and believe it or not they number the commandments a little differently than most Protestants. They combine the first two commandments into one. We use the Confessional Mirror, but adapt it to fit the Protestant numbering.
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