The Heart of the Law: Part One
So far we have studied the first four commandments which reveal God’s character in light of our relationship with Him. We will now begin to look at the last six commandments and see what they reveal to us about His heart in light of our relationship with others.
Let’s begin with the fifth commandment found in Exodus 20:12 ESV:
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
As we have learned, commandments one through four teach us how to love and respect God. Commandments five through ten now show us how to love and respect each other.
How many of you know we learn proper respect for one another in the home? The home is where we learn our values - our regard for life or our disregard for it. It isn’t any wonder why the Lord would put this commandment first as He reveals to us His heart in light of our relationships with one another.
The fifth commandment teaches that we are to honor and respect our parents. What this commandment is revealing to us is that at the “Heart of the Law” is respect for AUTHORITY.
St. Augustine gave us insight as to the importance of the fifth commandment by asking this question:
“If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will spare?”
At its very core respect for one’s parents lays the foundation for respect towards everyone else in our lives. Church, if we do not respect authority at home, we will not respect it anywhere else.
We need to study the fifth commandment carefully to understand its meaning.
The first word we need to study in this commandment is the word HONOR. What does it mean to honor your parents? The word for honor here is the Hebrew word “kabod.” The word literally means “heavy” or “weighty.” It is the same word used in the Old Testament used to describe the weightiness of the glory of God.
When the fifth command says we are to honor our parents, it means we are to give due weight to their position of authority in our lives.
This commandment, although it talks about specifically our parents, in principle applies to all those God has placed as authorities over our lives. The Heart of the Law revealed to us here is that God demands respect for authority. Because all authority comes from Him respect for those in authority is respect for God, Himself.
Our respect for the authorities in our lives is not based on personal merits or professional talents, but on the position God has given to them. You may not agree with how someone handles their authority, but it is their position we are called to honor.
There is another side to this principle and that is people who are in authority have an obligation to exercise that authority in a way that pleases God.
The fifth commandment is not a pass to an abusive parent, an unjust judge, or president, or king. It is not a pass to dishonorable church leaders or unethical employers. The fifth commandment is meant to be observed by both the one under authority and the one in authority.
If you want to be honored – God expects you to be honorable.
The fifth commandment reveals to us that at Heart of the Law is respect for authority. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to create this heart in us also so that we would respect Him by showing respect for the authorities over us. And, for those of us in authority whether parent, teacher, church leader or law-maker, may we use our God-given authority in a Christ honoring way. (To be continued…)