Today we will get back to what God purposed us to do when we started this series on the 10 Commandments – to look intently into how His Commandments, His will, when followed are the best thing we can do for ourselves.
Staying within God’s will provides us all of the blessings and privileges that come from staying home. Going off on our own (becoming independent of the Father) literally means that we are on our own – left to our own wisdom and understanding, which leads to our own fleshly behaviors.
The first 4 commandments deal specifically with our relationship with God:
- He is to be the only god in our lives
- We are not to make idols to take the place of Him
- We are not to misuse His name in word and through hypocrisy
- We are to take a Sabbath once a week to rest and remember
God was saying to us that in order for us to have sanctity of life, our first focus must be on Him. If we lose sight of Him, we will lose sight of everything else that is important to Him.
Jesus summarized the first 4 Commandments this way. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22: 37
Well, what else, besides God being top priority in our lives, is important to Him?
The answer is: How we treat other people.
So the remaining 6 commandments deal with how we are to treat other people, and it starts in the home.
Exodus 20: 12 states, “Honor your father and your mother.”
Now why would God desire that children honor their parents?
Well before answering that question it is important to state that this commandment was not created so parents could use and abuse their children, as we have seen and heard of. And do we really understand what it means to honor someone?
According to Webster, to honor someone could mean to keep someone; to revere someone; to esteem someone; to value someone.
So how are we to honor parents, especially when our parents don’t deserve our honor?
- We are to see the good in them
- We are to value the wisdom they have from life experiences
- We are to obey when we’re younger and to uplift when we’re older
- We are to keep them because they once kept us
- We are to not neglect them for the (man-made) “traditions” of God
Jesus said to the Pharisees after He was questioned why His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake or your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to honor his father with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.”– Matthew 15: 3-6
What he was saying is that the Pharisees were wrong for creating a moral dilemma for those they were teaching – should I give my gift to God or should I help my widowed mother? And they had taught well because Jesus knew that sons, in the name of God (misusing His name), were not caring for their parents. He was saying to us through His rebuke, (my paraphrase) “You’re not honoring your parents by taking what they in desperation need and putting it in the temple treasury. Honoring your parents is to make sure that they are cared for, especially as they age.”
Now I have to be careful here that you don’t begin to think that this is an “out” from giving tithes and offerings. No, Jesus used this teaching to say that there will be times in life when you have pledged money to God in worship, and a need of your parents (or maybe someone else) is brought before you. He was saying, (my paraphrase) “God would rather see that money used in honoring your parents because they need food, they need medicine, they need clothing, etc, than placed in the tithe boxes of the temple.”
He was saying, “True worship of God is you thinking of others and honoring them.”
But getting back to that question of why would God desire we honor our parents? He desires it because honoring our parents is a form of worship to Him. And where there is worship, there is peace. And where there is peace, there is freedom. And where there is freedom, there is less stress. And where there is less stress, people live longer.
HMM….Maybe that’s why God attached to this commandment, that if followed, a promise – a promise of a long life (a long peaceful life with stability and security as promised if we remain in God’s will.)
Yet often we try to justify, though we now know the specific Law and the benefits we can have in obeying it, that this Law, or any of the Laws, is optional to follow and still feel we can be in God’s will. Here’s a story to explain what I mean:
A salesman was going door to door trying to sell his wears. As he walked up to the next house, he noticed a small boy sitting on the front steps. “Is your mother home?” the salesman asked the small boy. ”Yeah, she’s home,” the boy said, scooting over to let him past. The salesman rang the doorbell, got no response, knocked once, then again. Still no one came to the door. Turning to the boy, the fellow said, “I thought you said your mother was home!?” The kid replied, “She is; but this isn’t where I live.”
The following of God’s will, His 10 Commandments, is all about perspective, just like the story I just shared. The little boy’s mother was home, but the salesman assumed it was this home because the little boy was sitting on the steps of this home.
Sometimes we assume we have a clear picture of God’s will because we have done the religious rituals we are required to do, and yet we knock on the door and no one answers.
Then we find ourselves asking, “God I thought you said your will was here?”
And then God says, “It is; but you’re at the wrong house. You didn’t take the time to ask me clearly what my will is for you in this situation.”
Honoring our parents at times is easier than others, yet God didn’t give us a pass when it’s tough. And understand that honoring a father or mother doesn’t mean that I sit on their every word or have to be with them all the time OR OBEY COMMANDS THAT WE KNOW ARE SIN. It means that I am WILLING to obey them when I’m younger and care for them when I am older, especially when they need it most, no matter how nasty they can be or have been to me.
This law, and any of the others, is not optional. But what we need to begin to see, God’s will can only be done if we look to the correct source.
Another story that illustrates that nothing is impossible, even honoring bad parents, when our focus is where it needs to be.
A father wanted to read the paper, but was being bothered by his little daughter, Susie. Finally, he took a sheet out of his magazine, on which was printed the map of the world. Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Susie, and said, “Go into the other room and see if you can put this together.” After a few minutes, Susie returned and handed him the map correctly fitted together. The father was very surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly.
“Oh”, she said, “on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got Jesus in His place, then the world came out all right.”
That is where our focus needs to be. If we put our focus on Jesus, the pieces fall into place and our world comes out all right.
So, Honor your father and mother, but do it by putting your focus and attention on God first.