Self-examination before Holy Communion (Sept. 29)

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Since we will gather for worship on Sunday and partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Cor. 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of God’s commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12

What does this mean?

“We should fear and love God that we may not despise our parents and masters, nor provoke them to anger, but give them honor, serve and obey them, and hold them in love and esteem.” – Luther’s Small Catechism

When we examine ourselves on the basis of this commandment, we must ask ourselves if we have neglected to honor and obey our parents and others God has placed over us – employers at work, government and rulers in civil matters and pastors when they speak and apply God’s Word to us.

Consider the words of Ephesians 6:1-9: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”

The Bible also commands children to care for and honor their parents in their old age (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8).

We consider our station in life and examine ourselves accordingly. Children should examine themselves to see if they have disobeyed their parents, dishonored them or provoked them to anger, and parents should examine themselves to see if they have brought up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” and not been overly harsh with them. Employees should consider if they have obeyed their employers and served them as they would the Lord. And employers are to consider how they treat their employees, whether they are overly harsh, pay them fair wages and remember that their employees, too, have been redeemed by Christ Jesus.

The Scriptures are clear in regard to those who rule over us. We are to obey the authorities God has placed over us so long as we can do so without disobedience to God (cf. Romans 13:1ff.; Acts 5:29).

And pastors, too, are to be honored and obeyed when they speak God’s Word to us and use that Word to rebuke our sins and offer us God’s comfort and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. The Bible says: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation … Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:7,17).

Again, when we examine ourselves in the light of this commandment of God, we see our utter failures. We have disobeyed parents and others in authority over us, and we have not honored them as God’s servants who watch over us for our good. And we have neglected and abused those under us, not teaching them the fear of the Lord, being overly harsh and not treating them in love and honor as souls redeemed by Christ our Lord. We have sinned and, as sinners, stand condemned by God’s holy law.

But, we remember that Christ Jesus kept this commandment perfectly in our stead, obeying and caring for His mother and honoring those over him in civil government and in religious service. He obeyed in all things except where obedience to God and His Word necessitated His disobedience to man. And He went to the cross to suffer and die and bear the just punishment for your sins and my sins against His commandments.

Do you acknowledge that you have sinned? Do you confess and agree with God that you are guilty and deserving of his wrath and punishment? Do you believe God’s commandment is good and right but you are wrong, a sinner deserving of the torments of hell?

The Bible says: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).

But the Bible also tells us that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

Do you trust that Christ Jesus has truly redeemed you from the curse of God’s law? That He fulfilled the law’s righteous demands and then took your sins upon Himself, along with the sins of the whole world, and suffered your just punishment when He died upon the cross? Do you believe that Christ paid for your sins when he died upon the cross and that he rose again in victory?

Do you also believe Jesus gives you to partake of His sacrifice for the sins of the world in the Sacrament – that He gives you His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins?

As a fruit of your faith, do you truly desire and seek God’s help to amend your life and live it to respect, love and trust in God above all else?

If you are truly sorry for your sins and look to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness, I announce unto you the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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