Thursday, July 08, 2004

Giving Weight by God's Grace

Commentary to the Sabbath School Quarterly Lesson #2

There are times when reading the Bible is not enough. One must study it. But, how should one study this book? Typically we all have various ideas of the ideal way to study. One thing I know for sure, when we are in Christ we look at things differently, because we perceive from a spiritual perspective. I Cor. 2:12 - 14 states in essence, that it is the Holy Spirit who is teaching us, and that when we accept His teaching, it is then that we start to see spiritually; hence the popular phrase, spiritual things are spiritually discerned. In Isaiah, the scriptures teach us that when we study, we are to desire to grow up and perceive as He perceives, and that our learning takes place as we move from understanding in a simple manner, to perceiving and applying more complex principles. These principles are building blocks, and thus by God's grace, the Holy Spirit places block upon block (or principle upon principle), as we by faith, allow Him. (See Is. 28: 9, 10 & 13).

It is through the Word that the Holy Spirit teaches us the principles of Christ and thus of His kingdom. As we ponder the message from the Word, keeping in mind the context, prayerfully considering its meaning, significance, and the Spirit's application to ourselves, we have the mind of Christ. Studying this way gives us not only scriptural knowledge, but experiential knowledge without which it is impossible to see God.

Let's consider this week's lesson on honoring our parents and other elderly persons. This principle is one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai by God. Many of us tend to perceive the Ten Commandments as divided into two halves (i.e. two tables of stone). We see the first four commandments as God's requirements from us for Himself, and the last six commandments for the second half, as that which specifies God's requirements from us to each other. Someone has said that while the emphasis of the first four commandments is worship, the emphasis of the second half is the ethical treatment of human beings. While this may sound good, considering the ethical treatment of others as secondary to worshipping God, seems to miss the point entirely. Christ has said in the New Testament, that to offend in one is to offend in all. Therefore to dishonor our mother or father, is to offend God.

The summary text for this lesson is found in Ex. 20:12, and states, " Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." It is interesting to note that this commandment was not given to children, but to adults. It demonstrates the value as well as the rights, responsibilities and privileges God places upon parents and parenting. While God expects parents to be honored by their children, He also expects parents to teach their children what honoring means. (see Deut. 6:7).

In Hebrew, the word for Honor is Kabad, and means to give weight to. The commandment to honor our parents then, could rightly be translated as, Give weight to your parents' admonition, counsel and instruction, that you may live a long and blessed life. Of course there are many among us who will say, "but you don't know my parents, they are totally dysfunctional." However, God knows the circumstances of your life, as well as that of your parents, and He has made abundant provision through His grace and His marvelous Holy Spirit for you to know just how to honor, or give weight to your parents' instruction.

Some say, "how will I know what weight to give, after all, its not like I have a scale or anything." Well, the answer to your question is right here in the scriptures. In Col. 3:20, Paul states, "Children, obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." What, you say? Didn't you understand me when I said my parents' advice is bad, that they are inconsistent, selfish, self-absorbed...? How in the world am I supposed to honor them, when they don't know if they are coming or going half the time? Well, in answer to these questions, lets look at the word "obey" in the Greek. Surprise, surprise! In Old Testament Greek, the word obey means: to listen attentively, to hear with a willingness to do. In English we translate the word "obey" as "to do," and this is why we get into so much trouble.

The bible tells us to "listen attentively to our parent's admonition, counsel and instruction, to give weight to their words with a willingness to do.” If that sounds like a tall order, take heart, for in John 15: 5, Christ says, "... without Me you can do nothing." And in John 14:23 - 26, He says, " If you love Me, keep (or treasure) My words and My Father will love you, and will come unto you and stay with you.... /... the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name (with the same character I have-- so you'll know Him), He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your memory, which I have told you (through My presence and Word). In verse 13 & 14, Christ further says, " And whatever you shall ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified (His character of unconditional, undeserving love be revealed to the universe) in the Son.”

Therefore, let us take courage, and ask Christ to help us give the proper weight to our parents' advice. He has promised right here in the scripture that He will help us if we ask, and that He will give us spiritual enlightenment to not only understand our parents, but their admonition as well. By bringing all things to our memory that Christ has impressed us to read in the scripture, the Holy Spirit will show us how to apply it to our parents, that we may take joy and delight in honoring Him, and them.
Friends, by faith in God's abounding, unmerited favor and love of us... let us choose this day to give Him our will in this matter.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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