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Summary: An examination of the last six commandments that deal with how we are to relate to our fellowman.

The Ten Commandments – Part III

“Six Principles for a Happy and Successful Life”

Exodus 20: 12-17

Last week we examined the first four commandments that defined for us what it means to love the Lord your God will all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Each of those four commands teach us what it means to love God.

The next six commandments tell us how to love people. They define what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. This morning I want to share six things that are important for a successful and joyful life.

1. Recognition of the Importance of Family - Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

The family is God’s idea. It is the foundation block for any civilization. Any civilization that has let this foundation crumble has not been able to stand. Strong families, make strong communities, strong communities and make strong countries. If the family is destroyed the nation will fall.

The command says that we are to “honor” our Father and Mother. The word “honor” comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to be heavy or weighty.” It means we are to give great weight or importance to our parents by respecting them. What this honor looks like changes as time goes on in our lives. In the early years, honoring your parents is expressed mainly through being obedient to their rules. As one becomes a teenager this need for obedience continues but is augmented by learning to show respect to your parent in your attitude. Even as adults we are to continue to show respect by listening to our parents advice and by caring for their welfare.

This morning I want to share with you two fundamental reasons why the family is so important.

First, because it here that we find acceptance and love. The family is the place that God created to shelter us from the stresses and demands of daily life, one place where we it’s safe. It’s a place where we can get close to someone else, be loved and accepted for simply being a part of a family, not because of what we look like, what we do or how smart we are.

Secondly, the family is important because it is here that we learn to relate to Others! Joy Davidman, C.S. Lewis’s wife, recounting one of Grimm’s fairy tales, illustrates this point in her book on the Ten Commandments saying, “Once upon a Time there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hand trembled; when he ate he clattered the silverware distressing, missed his mouth with his spoon as often as not, and dribbled a bit of his food on the tablecloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live and his son’s wife was modern young woman who knew that in-laws should not be tolerated in a woman’s home.

“I can’t have this,” she said. “It interferes with a woman’s right to happiness.” So she and her husband took the little one man gently but firmly by the arm and led him the corner of the kitchen. There they set him on a stool and gave him his food, what there was of it, in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner, blinking at the table with wistful eyes. One day his hand trembled rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke.“If you are a pig,” said the daughter in law, “you must eat out of a trough.” So they made him a little wooden trough, and he got his meals in that.

These people had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond. One suppertime the young man noticed his boy playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing.“I’m making a trough,” he said, smiling up for approval, “to feed you and Mama out of when I get big.”

The man and wife looked at each other for a while and didn’t say anything. Then they cried a little. Then they went to the corner and took the little old man back to the table. They sat him in a comfortable chair and gave him his food on a plate, and from then one nobody every scolded when he clattered or spilled or broke things.” [Joy Davidman. Smoke on the Mountain: An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954.) pp. 60-61]

Children learn how to treat others, how to relate as husbands and wives, even how to honor father and mother at home. “Since the family is the primary source of revelation being passed from one generation to the next, and since parents are the key transmitters, dishonoring parents has a double impact. When children of whatever age dishonor their parents, not only was that act sinful itself, but they cut themselves off from prime source of truth and God’s will.” [Bill and Kathy Peel. Where is Moses When We Need Him? (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1995) p. 130.]

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