Chapter 20:12-17 (ESV) - “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
Question to consider: In addition to telling us what “not” to do, what are some examples of positive things the Law tells us to do?
Yesterday, I included the first table of the Law - words dealing with our love for God. Today’s passage contains the second table of the Law - words dealing with our love of neighbor. The word dealing with father and mother could actually appear in either table because our father and mother stand in the place of God for the family. The apostle Paul also pointed this out about the command to honor our father and mother, “Children, obey your parents in the LORD, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD.” (Ephesians 6:1-4)
The father in particular is charged with the spiritual health of the family and is going to be the image that most closely resembles the LORD to a child. Like in everything else, we fall short in perfectly fulfilling this role, but ideally a child would respect his father in the same way he would respect his heavenly father, and an earthly father would be someone who faithfully teaches God's word and models wisdom and grace for the child.
Again, if we pay attention to order in these commands, the word concerning the family is listed more prominently than murder. The family is the model for all earthly authority, and if children learn to honor their parents, they will respectfully honor earthly authority and not struggle with murder, adultery, theft, lying, and envy or covetousness.
A final thing to note about the second table of the law is that each word concerning our neighbor has an implicit positive to be considered along with the explicit command. We don’t just refrain from murder but seek to promote life and take care of the vulnerable. We don’t just refrain from cheating on our spouse but seek to lead a life of purity that loves and honors our spouses. We don’t just refrain from theft but help to protect the property and businesses of our neighbor. We don’t just refrain from lying about our neighbor, but defend our neighbor against those who would seek to destroy their reputation. We don’t just refrain from coveting, but we do what we can to help our neighbors prosper.
Dear heavenly father, we thank You for Your grace that restores us when we fall short of Your good commands. Please continue to renew us from the inside out so that we strive to love our neighbor as Christ has loved us. Amen.