What Does the Fourth Commandment Forbid?


Below is an excerpt from Starr Meade's wonderful book, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds.  This is the beginning catechism book we recommend to CRCC families for their family worship.  This particular excerpt really ministered to my family this week:


Question 61.  What does the Fourth Commandment forbid?

Answer: The fourth commandment forbids failing to do or carelessly doing what we are supposed to do.  It also forbids treating the day as unholy by loafing, by doing anything in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thinking, talking about, or working on our worldly affairs or recreations.

Tuesday's Devotional:

We fail to rightly honor God on the Lord's Day when we are careless about our worship.  We can be careless about our worship in several ways.  Often, people come into the worship service late.  Imagine receiving an invitation to a meeting with someone important and showing up late!  Coming to worship God is at least as important as meeting with an important human being.  Yet Christians seem to feel quite free to walk in to church late.

Imagine being in a meeting with someone important-the president of the United States, for instance-and not paying attention to what he said.  People often fail to pay attention in a worship service.  When people sit in church, letting their minds wander during the sermon or when they sing the words of hymns without paying attention to them, they are being careless about honoring God.

The prophet Malachi wrote down God's message to His people.  He complained about their carelessness in worshiping Him.  In the case of the Israelites, they brought sick or damaged animals for offerings to God.  God was offended because they should have brought Him their best.  "Would you give a damaged gift to your governor?" he asked them.  If such a gift would insult a human leader, would it not dishonor God?  We no longer bring animal sacrifices as a part of our worship, but the principle is still true.  God's people should bring their best to God-their best worship, their best attention.  We should be careful, not careless, as we come to worship our great God.

Mal 1:6-8 ESV "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' (7) By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. (8) When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.

(Note: we believe the principle of giving God "one day in seven" for His worship is a moral one, not a legal one.  Christians are free to do this whenever they like.  The spirit here is not judgment...Col 2:16...but one of diligent and intentional worship for a God who is WORTHY!)