As I mentioned in my last post , the first four Commandments are about our relationship with God. The last six commandments are about our relationships with other people. God wanted his people to understand that when we have a close relationship with him, our relationships with others will be strengthened as well. My close friendships are with other Christians. That is both a strength and a weakness. I used to teach a Sunday School class and one of the challenges was trying to encourage the members to enjoy one another a little less, and look for the visitors a little more. The people that matter the most are the people who haven’t joined your circle of friends! Churches are sometimes accused of being more like a club with an exclusive membership than a public community center where anyone is welcome. We don’t intend it to be that way. It is just what happens when our human natures control us more than God. So how can we live in such a way that other people, especially people who don’t know the Lord, will see his Presence in us?
God commanded us to treat people well. How are these commandments reflected in your life?
Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and mother…” The world was such a different place when God gave this commandment. Families lived together and the elderly were cared for by their children. They would not have been able to survive on their own if they couldn’t work the fields and care for the animals. The older generation was able to offer wisdom and counsel, passing on important knowledge to the next generation. I believe one of the greatest weaknesses in our culture right now is that too many people don’t understand the fifth commandment God didn’t tell us to honor our parents simply because it was a kind thing to do. God said to honor our parents because it was the right and intelligent choice. Our parents have wisdom and they deserve our respect. I was blessed to have great parents but I know this is a hard commandment for some. Sometimes it is difficult to honor a person, even if they are a parent. At those times, pray for the wisdom to honor their position. (Moms: this works for teachers, coaches, other parents and those that hold political positions as well.) When it is difficult to honor the person — honor their position. Honor is more about what you choose to give, than what people deserve to get. People will notice, and respect the fact that you give honor to others.
Exodus 20:13 – “Do not murder…” Jesus explained in Matthew 5:20 that when you slander someone, you are committing murder as well. If you damage a person’s reputation, you have committed murder. I always felt pretty good about this commandment until I found the New Testament definition! There is no doubt that our culture, including the church culture, has murdered others – publicly. Bullying or gossip is now considered conversation – especially with the anonymity and ease provided by technology. The church and the Church are not garnering the same level of respect they once enjoyed. What if Christians were once again known for the way they loved, honored and cared for others? Kindness is not as common these days. Interestingly, that makes it a lot more noticeable! Jesus redefined the word “murder” in the sixth commandment. We need to think about our conversations and act like we belong in heaven instead of on death row.
Exodus 20:14 – “Do not commit adultery…” Jesus burst the bubble on this one as well. He said that even when you look at a person with lust you commit adultery. I am blessed to have married a great man and I plan on keeping him. If you are married, then your spouse is your most important relationship apart from God. The most important gift you can give your kids is the knowledge of how to be happily married. In our 30 years of ministry I have seen very few things more damaging to children or to their parents, than when their mom or dad breaks this commandment. The consequences almost always last their lifetime. Just remember, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence — because it is artificial turf!! It isn’t real. And adultery is about more than a physical affair. It is about a book called 50 Shades of Grey, it is about horrible internet sites and disgusting movies. On the other hand, if you treat your spouse in public with great love and respect, your kids will notice – and so will others. Picture the elderly couple who still hold hands in church, and finds happiness in simply being with one another. Don’t allow adultery to rob you of the chance to be that couple someday.
I’ll do the next post on the last three Commandments. I like to call the Commandments “God’s Top Ten List.” I bet He would think them worthy of three posts! I am sometimes sad at what I see on the TV and at the movies. But the good news is this: The darker the culture grows the brighter the light of Christ will appear. Honor, respect, kindness, goodness and Christian fidelity are less common in our world today. That means you and I have the chance to be extraordinary. May your light be extraordinarily bright today!