I have had a great time reading through the Book of Concord with a small group of people from our church. Sometimes, people have the impression that the Book of Concord is an old book full of things that aren’t very applicable to life today. To steal a phrase from Paul, “May it never be so!”
We just finished reading through Luther’s Small Catechism. What is so striking is how intensely practical and applicable it is for today. For instance, Luther writes on the 8th commandment that we are not only to refrain from lying but that we are to put the best possible construction on all that our neighbor says and does. Here is what he says,
The Eighth Commandment
Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not deceitfully lie about, betray, backbite, nor slander our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the most charitable construction on all that he does.
Living in crowded Southern California, there are many neighbors. This includes the guy who cut me off on the 101 the other day. This includes the neighbor who blocked me into my garage by parking in a no parking zone.
The guy in the freeway might have been rushing to the hospital to meet his pregnant wife. The neighbor was maybe moving some large furniture and could have used help. Why do we always assume the worst?
One of the most remarkable places where I saw this idea of putting the best construction on what a neighbor says or does came from a very unexpected place. A friend of mine watches The Bachelor on a regular basis. It is usually filled with fighting, back biting, and slander. One woman apparently disparaged another behind her back and she found out about it. Rather than putting up dukes to fight, she responded with empathy and she put the most charitable construction on what went down. It was completely disarming and a great example of the eighth commandment in action. To see a short video of the interaction, check it out here if the video doesn’t work below. (BTW, I don’t know anything about either one of these ladies other than what you see here. Also, this obviously is not an endorsement to watch this program.)
Our group is beginning a new section of the Book of Concord this week. We will be reading through portions of the Augsburg Confession. If you are interested in attending, check out info on our church’s website or contact me via the contact tab on my website.