Lesson Twenty Eight
HOW WE LOVE OTHERS
The past two lessons have covered the commandments that pertain to God. We now move to the second stone tablet with six additional commandments that relate to how we treat others. In short, we should treat our parents well, respect life, honor marriage, not take what doesn’t belong to us, tell the truth, and not yearn for something that is not ours. Keeping these will lead toward a happy, contented life. While all six are important, I would like to focus on one in a way you may not have considered.
Two quick stories about my youngest daughter. First, she is tall and always has been. I knew that if I didn’t help her early on to see the value of height, she might become self-conscious rounding her shoulders and slouching in an attempt to make herself “small” like her friends. At about three years of age, I began to tell her, “You will be a beautifully tall young woman one day.” She would smile having no idea what I was talking about but taking it as the compliment it was. As often as I could I would repeat this to her, until the day I dreaded arrived—sixth grade. She had the growth spurt I anticipated and she now towered over her shorter friends. But she carried herself tall and proud. Straight back, shoulders even, like a model. Why? Because she saw herself, in spite of the Middle School awkwardness, what had been prophesied—she was tall and beautiful.
She saw herself, in spite of the Middle School awkwardness, what had been prophesied—she was tall and beautiful.
Same daughter, different story. She had hit a challenging phase in her development. I don’t remember the age, but I do remember the behavior—argumentative, uncooperative, and, if honest, not particularly likeable. That always comes as a surprise when parents face the fact that truth be told, they aren’t especially enamored with what their child has become even when they know it will pass. I was reaching a place of exasperation when I decided to do something. Every day at some opportune moment I would say to her, “You know what I like about you . . .?” Her face would brighten, and she would say, “What?” And then I would respond (if you try this, make sure you have an answer!) After several days of this, I recognized something. I no longer saw my daughter’s behavior as a trial because I was looking for something to say. I was looking for the good and didn’t see the “bad.”
The sixth commandment says, “You shall not murder” or in other translations, “kill.” We typically think of this as taking a life. But Jesus expanded it to include anger and dislike (Matt. 5:21, 22). John later added “hatred” (1 John 3:14, 15). We must be careful of our words. Words can injure another in ways that are almost worse than taking their life. When you “kill” the spirit of another, you wound them in ways that are far-reaching and many never recover.
When you “kill” the spirit of another, you wound them in ways that are far-reaching and many never recover.
Watch your words. Find ways to use them to build up your children (no matter how old they are), your spouse, and those around you. Kind words can water the soul, nurture the spirit, and when used effectively bring renewal not only to ourselves, but to others.
The tenth commandment is an interesting one. Where all the others are actions to be done or to be avoided, the last commandment actually speaks to motive or thought. To covet someone else’s possessions is to think about what they have that is better than yours and then take the step of wanting it for yourself. It is the last commandment that will lead you to break number 8, which can lead to breaking number 9. Of course, if you break 8, 9, and 10, you will have dishonored God in the process breaking the first three. And so it goes.
Remember the words of God to Samuel that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. We must be careful of becoming discontented. Where our hearts are can lead us in the wrong direction.
Making it Real
The very first commandment after those that honor God is one that honors our parents. Parents represent God to their children. Good parenting reflects well on Him; poor parenting can have disastrous effects. Not all are blessed with parents that have taught them well and treated them kindly.
If you were blessed to have such parents and they are still alive, call them now and spend some time with them. Or buy a card or write a letter of appreciation and thanks.
If you struggled with your parents, and perhaps there is distance between you, is there something you can do to reach out to them? Is there a way you can represent the kindness of Jesus to them in spite of the broken relationship?
If your parents have passed, be thankful for the memories that you have. Maybe spend some time looking at an old photo album. Tell some stories to your children. Demonstrate to them how to “honor parents.”
Respond & Share
Something I learned from my parents that taught me about God is . . .
Please share with us in the comments!
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.
Coming next week:
Exodus 20:3, Exodus 24, 32,34;
Patriarch and Prophets: pp. 309-342; 363-373;
The Story of Redemption: pp. 142-150;
The Bible Story, vol. 2, pp. 157-176