March 10, 2009



By Regina Shands Stoltzfus, assistant professor of sociology
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: When I was 14, my younger brother and I spent the summer down south with our cousins. We were city kids, and that summer in Mom’s rural hometown presented to us a different way of life. As is the nature of small towns, everyone seemed to know everyone. I had only to walk down the road to have a chorus of people greet me by name, one by one as I passed by their front porches. Even though I was a visitor, by knowing my family, they knew me. They also took on the responsibility of teaching me the mores of the community, like the practice of addressing adults as ma’am and sir; walking slowly, taking time to visit. Paying attention.

My brother and I joined the church youth group on a trip to an amusement park. For the most part, it was a wonderful day. However, my brother, who had developmental disabilities, got lost at the park. Distracted by my new friends, I had completely forgotten about paying attention to him. Eventually he was found, unharmed, but shaken and scared. I was relieved and thought the incident was over. That night, however, back at home — I got the dressing down of my life. Never, ever, ever leave family behind.

Today’s text outlines some of the rules given to God’s people for the ordering of family and community. God’s people — God’s family — are to love, honor and care for one another. To be mindful of the way we speak and to be accountable. To pay attention. In this way, God’s love and care extends beyond ourselves and we can show the world how God loves by the way we love one another.


SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:1-17 (NRSV)

Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work — you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.



Comments (25)

  1. THank you Regina – if we live the one commandment ‘to love one another’ than all the rest fall in place.

    Pam Harrison March 10, 2009 |
  2. A simple but powerful rule. thank you for such a wonderful devotional.

    joe March 10, 2009 |
  3. Your personal story reminds me of The Watsons go to Burmingham (juvenile fiction). It also reminds me of my responsibility to teach and model how Jesus taught us to care for each other in the Kingdom of God. Thanks!

    Ruth E Showalter March 10, 2009 |
  4. Thank you for reminding us we are ALL part of the family of God. I will continue to try a nd put this into practice in my everyday life.

    Mary Stephens March 10, 2009 |
  5. Why is the Ephesians passage here?

    Luke Tia March 10, 2009 |
    • Yes, it’s actually Exodus 20:1-17 and not Ephesians. We published the correct passage, but made a mistake with the title/biblical reference. Thank you for pointing this out. It has now been corrected.

      – Administrators of Goshen College Devotions online

      Devotions Admin March 10, 2009 |
  6. Regina, I enjoyed the “Food for Thought” you shared with us today. I’m proud to have you as a part of our Pr. St. Family!

    Mary K. Mishler March 10, 2009 |
  7. Regina, I liked your “Food for Thought” you shared with us today. I’m proud to have you as a part of our Pr. St. Family!

    Mary K. Mishler March 10, 2009 |
  8. I just read the devotional for today and the Scripture is from Exodus, BUT when I scrolled down to read the printed version in the email, it is used the word Ephesians as the reference. Just a minor typo, I’m sure.

    Joan Oswald March 10, 2009 |
  9. Thank you Regina for your story. My eldest son is autistic (now in late 30’s), and he has taught our family so beautifully, over his life, how important family is. He gave us the experience of living in God’s kingdom…the real work it takes to be there…with all the pain and work it takes to stay there.

    Metaphorically, he taught us the value of living with, and loving all the “type-o’s” as opportunities of some sort…:-)

    ginny March 10, 2009 |
  10. Having grown up in a small-town, tightly knit way such as you describe, Regina, and now living in a large city far from extended family I have to choose this awareness of each other consciously. I still find myself in grief for the way of life in your story and in my past, and some of my tears are about the sadness over what I’ve ‘lost,’ and some are about the struggle to choose to continue modeling that way even though I live where it’s not easy to know how to practice it. Thank you.

    Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler March 10, 2009 |
  11. What a powerful concept: never leave family behind. SO critical for our physical families AND also for our church families in the spiritual sense. Also, a story-centered devotional speaks volumes. Thanks.

    rosella wiens regier March 10, 2009 |
  12. Thank you for your devotion today, Regina. I trust that it will be alright with you for me to share it with my congregation this Sunday. God bless the remainder of your Lent with Worship and Holiness.
    Rev. Harry Grace

    Harry Grace March 10, 2009 |
  13. Good point Harry-to thank the message giver as we share their thoughtful messages to others-like I shared Luke Gascho’s message out of the silence on 1st day last- about the beautiful bowls that were created out of the apple tree trunk.

    I am reminded of the centered bumper sticker on my
    Prius,”The time has come to see that we are all One Family.” These messages should be shared and I thank Regina and all of the thoughtful inspired writer-commenters.

    John Hackman March 10, 2009 |
  14. Thanks for this Lent devotion today, for as we look toward the cross, aren’t we called look care for those around us? For how do we live for Him but by our actions towards others?:

    “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again,” 2 Cor 5:14-15

    David A March 10, 2009 |
  15. That’s not how Ephesians 2 reads in my Bible! Otherwise, excellent ideas.

    Jim March 10, 2009 |
    • Yes, it’s actually Exodus 20:1-17 and not Ephesians. We realize that when the e-mail went out, we had published the correct passage, but made a mistake with the title/biblical reference. This error was corrected online earlier today. Thanks for pointing it out – and we apologize for any confusion that might have been caused.

      – Administrators of Goshen College Devotions online

      Devotions Admin March 10, 2009 |
  16. Just a note: the reference for the Scripture on March 10 should be Exodus 20:1-10 rather than Ephesians 2.

    Telissa Matos March 10, 2009 |
  17. what a wonderful unfolding of deep communal truth. thank you for inviting me into your world and God’s world through you.

    stu buisch March 10, 2009 |
  18. Thankx very much for the devotion i would like to add how i understood the massages. After reading the dev and the scripture, this was my understanding when those people reached the promised land they forgot the ten commandments and the forgot their God who recued them. God bless you so much.

    Birungi Susan March 11, 2009 |
  19. Dear Sister / Dr. Scholtfus,
    Thank you very much for helping to bring the Ten Commandments, and their original divine motivation (let alone context), down to my level of comprehension. I’m reminded of that passage in whichever of the New Testament letters it is (Hebrews–as a guess), about how the Law was our custodian.
    This will be a lot to chew on. Thanks again, Lots.

    Jon March 11, 2009 |
  20. …Oops, Sorry for getting your name wrong!!!

    Jon March 11, 2009 |
  21. …So would ‘you who are spiritual’ (and / or have a concordance ready to hand) care to point out where the the epistle reference actually comes from?

    Jon March 11, 2009 |
  22. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    RaiulBaztepo March 28, 2009 |
  23. Hi !!! ;)
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
    And want to ask you: what was the reasson for you to start this blog?
    Sorry for my bad english:)

    PiterKokoniz April 7, 2009 |