God’s Top Ten - Meaningful Engagement with Each Other
“Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land
that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, NRSV)
Last Sunday, I preached on the first four of the Ten Commandments, and I shared that these commandments focused on our relationship with God. This Sunday, I will conclude the series on “God’s Top Ten” with the last six commandments that focus on our relationships with one another. The first of those six commandments is the one at the top of this article, and it contains a clue about why these last commandments are vital to our well-being.
When we honor our fathers and our mothers, we are setting in motion a pattern of relating that will serve us well if we can continue that pattern in all our relationships. The result will be happier and healthier relationships that are foundational to a happier and healthier life. For instance, the apostle Paul picked up on this pattern of honor and respect regarding the relationship between husbands and wives:
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ… Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:21 & 33, NRSV)
That was a pretty radical statement for those living in a patriarchal society; however, even though some might argue Paul did not go far enough in his support of gender equality, Paul was laying a foundation for honor and respect in all our relationships that he would further argue to the church in Galatia:
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NRSV)
The last five commandments are specific circumstances where God is offering behavioral guidelines that will preserve relationships and give us better lives as we meaningfully and lovingly engage with one another. To break any of these commandments damages our relationships, threatens our freedom, and even endangers our lives.
As I said this past Sunday, God’s law or God’s will is never meant to diminish our lives. When God tells us it’s essential to do a thing or to refrain from doing another thing, God has our best interest in heart and mind. God knows best how we can get the most out of life, and so when we follow his commands, we are positioned to live the best lives possible. ~Dale Cohen