Honor your father and your mother.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. [Luther's Small Catechism]
This commandment signifies that we should not only respect our parents, but also any person or organization who is given authority over us. That could be a family member such as a grandparent or uncle. It could be a governmental authority like the president or mayor. It could also be a vocational authority figure like my employer.
In the Fourth Commandment the Lord bids us to be obedient to these people. We should do what they say as long as it does not conflict with the expressed Word of God. We may not always like what they tell us, but we should comply. This keeps peace and allows the world to function.
But this command is more than a statement that we should obey all the rules that other people make for us. We are also to love and cherish these people. And that, obviously, will not be easy. It is one thing to begrudgingly obey your boss. It is another to always speak well of him, even when he has been a jerk. It is one thing to pay my taxes in protest. It is another to cherish the President of the United States and the Congress who sets the payments.
As Christians we are not only called to acceptance of the rules and mere obedience. We are called to love and service. We are called to pursue good deeds, not simply refrain from evil deeds. This is the new life that we are given in the birth of the Christ child. We now live under the reign of King Jesus where we are freed from sin and death that we might live full and abundant lives, lives that pursue mercy, righteousness, and love.
During this season of Advent, as we anticipate the coming of the Christ, let us anticipate with action. Let us cherish and love those in authority over us and all our neighbors throughout the world.