Luther’s Catechism

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Sunday Quote!- Martin Luther on the Eighth Commandment

martin luther

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Martin Luther on the Eighth Commandment

I’ve always thought Martin Luther’s thoughts on the Eighth Commandment are an excellent guide for Christian living. Here’s his very brief comments from the Small Catechism:

The Eighth Commandment.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean?–Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

Note that it is not enough simply to not lie to our neighbors. We must also defend the neighbor and also think and speak well of them. In the Large Catechism, Luther expands on these thoughts quite a bit. We should be generous in our interpretations of others’ intentions and acts.

Too often, even in Christian circles, I see people labeling others as “compromiser” or “fundy” or “liberal” without any consideration of the actual motivations, arguments, and positions of those with whom disagreement exists. Doing this is breaking the Eighth Commandment. Even in disagreement, we should think and speak well of our neighbor.

I pray that I may take this to heart and adapt it to my life.


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