The Rule of Law: First Things (33)
“‘Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORDyour God.” Leviticus 19.3
Loving God and your neighbors are the highest priorities to embed in our consciences. This is what we’re made for; this is how we refract the being and purpose of God into the world.
Having these in place will lead to the pursuit of holiness, so that no sin should obstruct our calling to be agents of grace in the world. Bolstering this is the commandment to keep the Lord’s Day; and close on the heels, indeed, tied directly to the priority of keeping the Lord’s Day, is the command to honor our parents.
We’re beginning to see a hierarchy of values that each believer should lodge and reinforce in his soul in order to make sure that the priorities are in place to arbitrate between our thoughts and ideas, and our feelings and desires.
There are three reasons why honoring our parents must be included among the most central of priorities of the conscience. First is that God includes it along with the Sabbath which, as we have seen, carries the “surely” qualifier as a high priority for God’s people. On the Sabbath we learn to honor God, to improve love for Him, and thus to reinforce this priority in our souls. By honoring our parents, our closest neighbors, we strengthen the conscience for neighbor love.
Second is that the same word is used to describe the bottom line of our relationship with our parents as to the Lord Himself: fear. The NKJV translates the verb revere in this case, and that is not incorrect. But in the Hebrew mind fearing God and revering one’s parents would have been on the same spectrum of meaning, suggesting similar attitudes and activities. Fearing God leads to obeying, loving, and serving Him (Deut. 10.12, 13). Fearing our parents can have the same effect.
The result is that, third, since the home is the primary arena in which children are to learn the Law of God – by instruction and example – fearing one’s parents provides a good foundation for lifelong learning in the divine economy (Deut. 6.4-9, 20-25). If we honor our parents, we will be more likely to regard what they might teach us with the kind of deference such teaching deserves.
In the same way that the Lord’s Day provides weekly practice in loving God and the pursuit of holiness, honoring our parents provides a foundation and template for practicing the daily discipline of love for our neighbors. The reverence, respect, and honor we show to our parents in the home should translate into love for our neighbors in all the everyday situations and circumstances of our lives.
As children, honoring our parents requires that we learn self-control; as mature adults, honoring our parents provides daily practice in the obligations of love. This fifth priority of the conscience, once again, reinforces all those which we have previously explained, thus contributing to a tight and interconnected hierarchy of priorities in the soul.
T. M. Moore
The Law of God is the soil which, fertilized by the rest of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit, brings forth the fruit of the Christian life. If you’d like to understand this process better, and how to make best use of the Law in your walk with and work for the Lord, order the book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, from our online store.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.