So far, in this study series, we’ve covered an introduction on the 10 Commandments (aka the Decalogue) in Part 1. In Part 2 and Part 3, we explored the first four commandments in detail — all of which pertain to our relationship with God.
We now examine the second section of the 10 Commandments, which dictates how we ought to relate to our neighbour.
5. Honour your parents (Exodus 20:12)
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
John Calvin puts it this way: “Knowing that someone has been placed over us by the Lord’s ordination, we should render to him reverence, obedience, and gratefulness, and should perform such other duties for him as we can. It makes no difference whether our superiors are worthy or unworthy of this honour, for whatever they are they have attained their position through God’s providence — a proof that the Lawgiver Himself would have us hold them in honour.”
Let’s elaborate on those three aspects a bit in the context of this commandment:
- Reverence: There is a weight that comes along with the responsibility of being a parent. They are probably given one of the hardest offices in all of life — one of great significance — that is, to raise their children in the fear of God. We are called to revere them for this reason.
- Obedience: We are also called to obey our parents in the Lord. This is not an option. It is a commandment. The only time Scripture permits us to move out of the authority of parents is in marriage when we leave and cleave to our spouse. Even then, there are ways we can honour parents through obedience.
- Gratitude: Having a heart of gratitude is the most humble way we can honour our parents. Where we are today is (more often than not) because of their hard work. Be thankful, always.
We need our parents. God’s design for the family makes it very clear that a child needs his/her folks. There is plenty of research that supports the link between broken or troubled homes and crime. Too often, we don’t really realise the importance of having good parents and stable homes in our lives. Parents are placed by God to guide, protect, counsel, provide for and love us.
Of course, no parent is perfect. They live in the flesh, just like us. They have sinful desires and shortcomings and failures too. But the majority of parents want what is best for their children — and go the extra mile to ensure it. That’s why they can be some of the best representations of God’s love and care for us today.
Parents can be some of the best representations of God’s love and care for us
Some of the simple ways we can honour our parents are:
- Being there for them. Caught up in our busy lives, it is easy for many of us to forget our parents. Taking time to visit or picking up our phones to ask them how they’re doing are some of the ways we can be there for them. If we still live with them, making them feel our presence at home is important. Too many parents will confess they have no idea where their kid is and vice versa. As children, regardless of how we feel about our parents, we are called to serve them and be there for them.
- Demonstrate selfless love. Many of us will be able to testify of how our parents have shown us unconditional love. That is their calling. But is this only a one-way affair? Is there a requirement on our part to love our parents back the same way? Absolutely. They deserve every ounce of love we can offer.
- Saying thank you. I’ve often noticed that my dad becomes uncomfortable whenever I thank him. To him, everything he does — or has done — for me is his responsibility as a father — something he is meant to do. He believes there is no reason for me to thank him. A lot of parents feel the same way, but it’s important to communicate how much we appreciate them — and saying thank you does not always need to be with words.
- Saying sorry. This is perhaps the hardest thing to say — especially to our parents. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important things to say. If you are like me, most of the time, after a dispute, we feel like we are in the right and our parents are in the wrong — every time. Here’s something I’ve learnt over the years though: when I take the initiative to say I’m sorry, there is healing. Not just in their hearts, but even in mine. Apologies have the power to break the chain of miscommunication or hurt in a parent-child relationship and bring restoration.
Now, ‘sorry’ can be the hardest word when you’re in the wrong — but what about when you’re not at fault? I believe there is a way to initiate reconciliation even then. Oftentimes, we wait for them to apologise. But taking the initiative to amend the issue is a humbling experience. Lovingly tell them that you’re sorry if you hurt them; maybe your tone or the way you said what you did was wrong or disrespectful. However, you can also gently make your case for why you believe you’re not in the wrong once they have calmed down as well. The goal, as much as possible, should be to resolve the matter instead of prolonging it.
While the first commandment is the foundation for all commandments, this commandment may well be foundational to how we love our neighbours. What we practise at home defines how we relate with people outside.
Apologies have the power to break the chain of miscommunication or hurt in a parent-child relationship
6. Do not kill (Exodus 20:13)
You shall not murder.
Genesis 1:26-27 makes it clear: we are created in the image of God. God is the author of all human life. All of us, regardless of race or gender, have been created by God with dignity and inherent worth. We are to represent God as His image-bearers.
- It prohibits us from taking a human life. This refers to any form of premeditated, intentional murder. God alone is the author of life; only He can take it back.
- It prohibits suicide. God not only prohibits us from taking the lives of others, He also prohibits us from taking our own lives. [A question that often comes up at this point is: what about the many Christians who have committed suicide? You can read our response to that query here.]
- It prohibits all violent emotions and intentions of the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). In the New Testament, we see that Jesus further expands this command. To murder, He says, is not just to literally kill someone. If we have anger in our hearts against someone, we’ve already committed murder. Kevin DeYoung puts it this way: “You and I can be 100% free from murder but still face the wrath of God if our life is marked by anger, bitterness, insult, and rage.”
- Ask others about your anger. Be open to their feedback and willing to do what’s necessary to change.
- The sixth commandment not only prohibits us from murder, it essentially encourages us to reconcile our issues with others.
The sixth commandment essentially encourages us to reconcile our issues with others
7. Do not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14)
You shall not commit adultery.
A few months ago, I was in conversation about this topic with a friend of mine, who serves as a pastor. He said: “In all my years of being an elder, if there is one thing I’ve seen Satan use to break churches and families, it is the sin of adultery and sexual immorality.”
- God established the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5). And He intended it to be a sacred and lasting union.
- Sex is the God-given way for the procreation of the human race. And marriage is the only framework within which God allows this (Genesis 1:28, 9:1; Malachi 2:15).
- It prohibits extra-marital affairs. In Leviticus 18:20, God told Israel, “And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her.” In Deuteronomy 22:22, we find a similar instruction: “…If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”
- It prohibits lust. There is more to this command than simply avoiding extramarital relationships. It is important to note that Scripture consistently forbids all sorts of sexual sin (incest, fornication, homosexuality, etc.). As children of God, we must avoid anything that would lead or tempt us to consider adultery (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, made further clarification of this command. “…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).” Any lustful thoughts — fantasising about having sex with someone — is also a violation of God’s design.
- Flee from sexual sins (1 Corinthians 6:18). We are called to run away from such sins because they will ultimately lead us into destruction (Proverbs 5).
- Make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). We must avoid anything that could create lustful thoughts in our minds (e.g., suggestive songs, sensuous movies, pornography, etc.).