Locations of visitors to this page
Living Like Faithful Children
Scripture: Exodus 20:12
Track 5 of 10 in the Ten Commandments series
Running time: 34 minutes, 57 seconds.

Click above to listen in this window.
Right-click to download MP3. With one-button mouse, control-click.

Be sure to scroll down to read the transcript.

Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, July 31, 2005
5th sermon in an 10-part series.
"Living Like Faithful Children"
"Ten Words to Guide our Lives"
(Exodus 20:12)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

In Grimm's fairy tales there is an interesting family who was caring for an elderly parent. Except that this elderly parent had become a little less than acceptably capable at the dinner table. In fact, he had frankly become more trouble than the children used to be, making a mess at the table and mother got tired. She got tired of cleaning up and so she decided to make things a little easier on herself. They would set him a table over in the corner so he was relegated to that table. There he could shake and quake and drop things and it wasn't a big deal. It didn't disrupt the rest of the family gathering except that day he also dropped his bowl and he broke it and she was angry. So she decided that in order for him to be no trouble at all he would have to eat out of a wooden bowl. And so, she gave him a wooden bowl in the corner where he ate meal after meal.

It was just a few days later that they walked into the room and their four-year old son was down on the floor playing with some wooden blocks, it appeared, except that suddenly they realized he was actually trying to make something out of one of these pieces of wood. And so, when they asked him what he was doing, he said "I'm making a wooden bowl so that when you are old, you'll have something to eat out of too."

We learn a great deal watching how we take care of elderly parents.

I feel like I'm in good shape. I don't mean physically. I mean, I'm in good shape because my children watched their mother take care of her mother and her father during their dying days.

My children have seen what it means to take care of an aging parent who is not able to care for themselves and I'm grateful for that because I suspect that one of these days, that may be me. I think I've got it worked out pretty well. I've got a daughter who's a nurse and a daughter who works for a lawyer so, you know, things ought to be alright in my old age.

As you know, we're making our way through the Ten Commandments. We come to Number 5 today, but in order to place it in its context, let's just review for a second, the very 1st Commandment is. "I will not have any rivals. I'm God. There isn't anybody else and don't try to put somebody ahead of me."

The 2nd Commandment comes immediately on the heels of that and says in essence, "don't create any graven images. Don't try to bring me down to something that you can control. Don't try to box me in a way, that somehow you can use me to get what you want when you want it."

The 3rd Commandment comes along and it reminds us that we are to NOT take His name in vain. In other words, what I think that he said is, "take me seriously. Don't enter a relationship with me if you don't intend for that relationship to be a serious relationship."

Last week we engaged Number 4. "To keep the Sabbath. Trust me! I know what's best for you."

We come to Exodus 20:12. Number 5 on the list, depending on whose list you look at. Sometimes lumped in with the first four; sometimes lumped in with the last six; always a transitional verse. Here is a verse that some people like to put with the first four commandments which really focus on our vertical relationship with God. And they see in this command, one more statement about what it means to relate on a vertical level to our Heavenly Father.

Other people put it in with the last five, making six out of that list which has to do with the horizontal relationships that we have with one another. Frankly, it does both. And it serves as a remarkable kind of transition verse to set us up for the second half of the Ten Commandments which we are familiar with such as Thou shalt not kill, steal, etc.

Look at Exodus 20:12 Here's Moses statement from God. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." The apostle Paul will come along and he will take that same verse and he will remind us that this is the first commandment that comes with a promise. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land that I'm about to give you. That promise becomes important.

Well, the words are pretty simple. The word is honor. It means to respect. It has a number of different uses in the Old Testament. It means to be weighty, heavy. In fact, sometimes it's translated that way in your English Bibles, literally to mean something that is heavy, hard to carry. It's a word that you would run into if you were reading through the story of the development of the tabernacle and God shows up in the form of a cloud or a bright light and he settles on the Mercy Seat over the top of the Arc of the Covenant. That's the same word in a different form. It's often translated "glory". The idea behind it is that it's heavy. It's important. It's got substance. It's of significance. Honor has to do with the kind of way that we relate to people in a way that we treat them as if they are important; as if they have respectability, as if we should somehow literally honor them. It's the kind of thing that God says will happen, when he's speaking with Moses. He says, "You go and you talk to Pharaoh and when Pharaoh gets done with all of the miracles that I'm going to perform, he will honor me." It's that word. Honor your father and your mother, treat them with respect, dignity. Give them the weight that they deserve. "Honor your father and your mother, your parents, those who are over you.

In Israel it was rather interesting because this word usually meant just that, your parents, your father, your mother, those who were literally the ones who brought you into being. But sometimes, not often, but sometimes, in the Old Testament, this word is used to talk about those who are literally over you, your leader. And so once in awhile, the Israelites would refer to Moses and leaders like him as "our father"; or, the leaders, would in turn, respond and talk about the followers as if they were their family, their children. And so, most people who write about the Ten Commandments tell us that this is not just a statement about familial relationships, but it really has to do with whether or not you can treat those who are over you with dignity and respect; so that, you may live long in the land. That's a covenant statement. From the very beginning, God said to Abraham, "I am going to give you a land and you'll dwell there forever." This is about God's covenant and so He says, "If you want to experience the blessings of the covenant; if you really want the kind of life I want to give you, you need to honor your parents. You need to give respect to those who have respect coming to them because that's going to help you prolong your days in the land." "You're going to experience living in a covenant relationship with Me in the way that you really desire to live, even though, frankly, you may not know that's what you really want."

You can take it literally, by the way, and sometimes it was. And since I have all these gray shirts in here, I think I'll take just a second and tell you; do you know the kinds of things for which life ended in the Old Testament? Sassing your parents was a capital offense. I don't mean if you just did it once. But if you were a rebellious child, some of you are getting nervous at this point. I know, because I was one. They took you outside the city gates and stoned you with rocks until you were dead because it destroyed the family structure. So there is a literal nature to this as well. You want to live long? Honor your parents!

I obviously lived, at least long enough to be to this point but I would have had a better chance of surviving to this point had I paid attention to my parents. 'Cause there were several things that they told me not to do that I did that came really close to causing me not to be here today. If I had just paid attention, I would have been better off.

My parents weren't very smart, was the problem. You know, when I was a teenager, my dad was just "dumb as a post". When I turned about 25 or 26, my dad just got smarter than he could be. I don't know what happened in those four or five years, but man, did he get smart. Suddenly some of the things he said began to make sense. I don't know if it had anything to do with I then had two or three children of my own. Maybe!

So Moses says, Honor your father and your mother. Why? So that you can live a long time in the land that I'm giving you. So that you can stay in a relationship with Me like I want you to have.

See, we live in covenant language. We live in a covenant relationship and all this is covenant language and it has everything to do with the kind of experience that runs all through Scripture. We start hearing it clear back in Genesis 2. A father and a mother will be left, when you go start your own family. "Leave your father and your mother and go join yourself. . . . ." You know that text.

The essence of what Israel did was to leave Egypt and enter a covenant relationship with God. They formed a new relationship. That's what's happening here in this covenant relationship. We have a way that we relate to other people. We belong to the family of God. And in that covenant we demonstrate what it means to live in a covenant relationship with God by honoring those over us, our parents.

The implications are pretty obvious and frankly, they're quite simple. One of them might sound something like this. Life is a gift - not a right. Now, I'm not going to ask you to do this, although some of you would, and that's why I'm not going to, but if you could use your imagination, roll your shirt up and look down at your tummy. All of you have one thing in common. Now some of you have decorated yours. That makes them less than common. In fact I've seen some that are rather fancifully decorated, but you've all got a "belly button". Some of them are in and out. You know that whole routine. You know what that demonstrates? You know what it proves? You didn't get here by yourself. You're NOT self-created.

You are the product of someone else. You are never an independent being. You are always dependent on someone else to give you life. That reminder is critically important in the context of the Ten Commandments. Remember the first Command? I am God. My paraphrase; You're NOT! And as long as you have a belly button, you're not God.

What that means is that we always live in community. We always live in a context. Now, I'm gonna just confess to you that some of you don't live in particularly happy contexts. I understand that. I grew up there. Not every family is the kind of family that is a God-honoring family. I understand that, but it's still the family. And what's absolutely incredible about the church is that we often become family for those who don't have family and we use the very same language to talk about that.

All of you came by way of birth. There was water involved. And everybody who becomes part of the church who enters into God's family comes the same way. There is a birth and there is water involved. And Jesus calls it, "you will be born again". Born of the water and of the spirit. We live in community. . . . . . .other things that we're trying to help you understand here at Madison Park is that the community is important. It's why. . . .isn't this exciting? I'm . . . . . if you've got a gray shirt on or you went and don't have your gray shirt, would you stand up. Now look at the adults, as well as the kids. These are the people who sent to CIY, at least most of them. Do you know why they dress like this, because this is community and when they go together in a group like this everybody knows this is Madison Park. And on the night that they all wear these shirts, the speaker says, "who are all these people wearing gray?" "We're Madison Park." It's community. You can sit down, if you want to. The idea is, we're trying to say, "this is family. . . . this is US."

We're about to engage you this fall in a thing called 40 Days of Purpose, and it's about community. It's about us understanding that we belong together and we're gonna. . . .we're praying already as a staff and leadership and some of you have joined us in praying, that one hundred percent of our people will get involved in the 40 Days process, which means participating in some way. Either in an adult discipleship group on Sunday morning or in a small group during the week where you will meet with people (not for 40 days in a row; you only have to do that part one day a week) but, to help you understand community.

In fact, Steve will be talking about this, but out in the new foyer, which you're encouraged to go look at, there is "Grand Central" and you can pick up these brochures which will tell you about 40 Days and in your bulletin there is this and he's going to talk about it. We want you to begin thinking that this is community. This is about US! Because that's the way we're created. We're created to live in community. We don't live by ourselves very well. Never have and frankly, never will.

By the way, this sets the stage for some of those commands that are coming up like, don't murder. Why? Community! Don't commit adultery. Why? Community! Don't bear false witness. Why? Community! Don't steal. Why? Community!

Well, one of the implication is simply this. Life is a gift - it isn't a right. You were blessed by it. Treat it with respect.

I think the second implication might sound something like this; that family is the fabric of society. Do you remember back in 1993? Ha-ha! Some of you don't remember that. I understand. You're wearing gray today. Some of you who are wearing gray only a little higher up will remember 1993. Some of you got it. Dan Quayle took on Murphy Brown over single parenting and man, did he take it on the chin and everywhere else. But it was interesting. In April of 1993, in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine, the cover article title is this, "Dan Quayle was Right." Family is important. Both parents are important. That cohesive unit that makes up our whole society is critically important.

I think that's why the Old Testament took family issues so very seriously. God wasn't being unkind when He said, "take rebellious children out and stone them." He understood that if the family fell apart, so the whole society fell apart. See, the other kinds of capital offenses that we would just laugh at in the 21st Century would be something like this. "Adulterer's are stoned to death." You gotta be kidding! That's the number one theme on television. I mean, that's what the whole thing is about. How many different ways can we have illicit relationships.

It destroys the fabric of society because it destroys the fabric of the home.

Some of you will find this one hard to handle. I didn't say it so I'm going to be uncomfortable repeating it but, it's still true. Homosexuality, the practice of it, was a capital offense. Why? Because it destroyed the structure of the family. And when it destroyed the structure of the family, it destroyed the structure of the society. God understood something from the very beginning. Honor your father and your mother lives in that set of Ten commands for a reason. The whole social structure exists around the ability of the family to be a cohesive unit. And when you tear the family apart, you tear the society apart. So God says, "Start at the very basics, honor your parents."

That assumes something. It assumes that parents are honorable. Can I remind you of something? I don't know why I didn't see this. I'm so tired of reading things in books that I never think of. That's probably why none of those books have my name on them. This was written to adults. The Ten commands were not given to children. The Ten commands were given to adults. It wasn't a bunch of teenagers sitting around having Moses say, "now by the way, when you're growing up, honor your parents." It was written to adults telling them, "honor your parents."

I wish I had it to do all over again. See, if I knew today. . . . .if I knew yesterday what I know today, I would have done it differently. Both of my parents were dying of cancer, and, as many of you know, there's no way to know how long that's going to take. So I lived my life as if it would just run its course in whatever way it was going to happen.

August of 1985 rolled around and I started another school year in the classroom. I visited my parents in a hospital in the middle of September of 1985. I buried my mother on October 4th and my father on October 11th. Had I known in August what I knew in October, I'd have not taught that school year and I'd have just moved home to take care of my parents. I just didn't know. So somehow I salved my conscience and say I did the best I could with the knowledge that I had.

But it has caused me, on more than one occasion, to go back and ask myself, "Have I helped people, literally, honor their parents." I think of the young people who have tried to make decisions for Jesus and their parents are against it and I try to figure out how do you council a young person who wants to give their life to Jesus, maybe wants to go to the mission field, maybe wants to be a preacher and their parents don't want them to be Christians or they don't want them in ministry. How do you advise them to honor their parents? And the answer I came up with is, "I Don't Know!" I just don't know.

What I do know is this. That if I am a believer in Jesus Christ, I have to honor my parents. And it doesn't matter how old they are. In fact, it's really interesting to me that this text that sometimes gets quoted, often just gets overlooked, is in a particular context, which all of them are. It's 1Timothy 5:8. Do you remember what it says? "Those who don't take care of their own are worse than an infidel." "Those who do not take care of their own families," he says, "are worse than pagans." But do you know the context in which that occurs? It's the context in 1Timothy about taking care of the widows in the church. It's not about fathers making a living for their children. It's about parents taking responsibility for their elderly parents.

There is so much that we need to understand about life and its relationships and how we honor those who have given so much to us. It can be young people. Honestly, it can.

To see you guys up here singing and to know your parents, you're honoring them. Now I know you're honoring someone else and that's your biggest concern but it. . . .some of the parents of these kids are in here. Is that not honorable to you. Does that not honor you to see your children worshiping God and leading us in worship and doing meditations? That's how we honor our parents.

I honor my parents by being honest. My dad was the most honest man I ever knew and I honor him by trying to be honest. I don't believe people turn over in their graves, but if I ever lied, my dad would turn over in his grave. He'd hate it. Every second of it. He wouldn't care what it cost me, just so I told the truth. That's how we honor our parents.

And we're shocked when people don't, aren't we? I mean, you remember the Menendez boys who had their parents, I mean, shotgun murdered their own parents and you sit back in horror and you think, I don't care how bad the parents are, that's just not the way you handle life.. Have you followed me? I'm trying to tell you that in order to be honored, you need to be an honorable person. I understand that and that's the challenge to those of us who have children, is to be the kind of parent that is literally an honorable person so that our children can honor us. But beyond that, I'm a child and I have to honor my parents. And it doesn't matter how old they are. I never lose the responsibility, to honor my father and mother.

And so somewhere along the line and I don't remember where it happened, but somewhere along the line, I stopped telling the horror stories of my childhood. The things that I considered to be bad. Actually, I think I do know when it happened. Sunday night, in Lincoln, Illinois I was asked to preach a sermon with this title, "What did you learn from your parents?" Now I was the one that was asked specifically because I had non-Christian parents. We'd already had somebody get up and talk about their Christian parents and what they learned from them. And I remember the preparation for that and trying to think through what were the things that I learned. You know, I learned a lot. My only regret is that sermon wasn't taped because I would have loved to have heard what I said. I don't remember most of it. But I do remember thinking this is an incredible privilege to talk about the good that I found in my parents. Now that doesn't negate the fact that they weren't Christian. It doesn't negate some of the things that they did. It just allows me to honor them for who they are and what the good was that came out of that. I mean, after all, no offense, I turned out alright. I'm an honest person. You can trust me. I'm a Christian. I've spent 35 years in preaching. They did okay.

Some of you don't think your parents are doing a very good job. And you're probably right, they're not. But if you'll let God be God you'll turn out okay.

I think there's a third implication and that's this. God is still ultimately our "Father". That's, I think, Jesus "favorite" term for God. . ."Father". I can't prove that, but I think it is.

And whatever else we decide about how to resolve this question about honoring our fathers and our mothers, we ultimately have to honor the "Father" don't we? Interesting that's the choice of terms He uses about himself. And I know there are difficulties there. I fully understand the difficulties because some of our parents, some of our fathers haven't been all that helpful to us in giving us an image of what God should be like. But Jesus did do a pretty good job of showing us what the "Father" was like. But if you can't see God in your own father, then look for him in Jesus. 'Cause you'll find him there. It's clear. Absolutely clear.

And if your life is anything like mine, you'll probably be blessed to have somebody like a Dick Shelley come along who will become a substitute father in your faith. And what my own father could not teach me about Jesus, I learned a lot from Dick.

The issue is really submission. It's about giving yourself to the father. It's about submitting to God. It's about honoring our parents whom we can see in order to honor God, whom we cannot see.

There is so much that we ought to say about this but we need to get to that question. How did Jesus live this out? We've been trying to ask that question every week. How did Jesus live out the Ten Commandments. How did He honor His Father and His mother? In a style not unlike what the kids experienced this CIY. Watch the screen and listen carefully and see if Jesus can't answer that question for us.