Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Community
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 5:1-21 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 6:1–3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”
As Seventh-day Adventists we love the Ten Commandments. We love them so much that we often place them in prominence over the Cross or the empty tomb. God’s law is His character written in stone, right? When we read about the law in the New Testament we (Adventists) automatically go to the Ten Commandments in our mind’s eye, even though Paul was almost always speaking to the totality of the law, the first five books of the Bible. We’ve even written into our eschatology (teaching about the end times) the idea that perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments will be the hallmark of God’s last day people.
In the center of the Ten we have a special place in our hearts for the Fourth Commandment. Most of us have memorized the Fourth Commandment (in the KJV). We’ve spent a lot of energy defending the Fourth Commandment in papers and books and documents. We’ve interpreted Scripture so that the first angel in the Three Angels Messages of Revelation 14 is a direct reference to the Fourth Commandment.
We love the Ten Commandments. Especially the Fourth.
As a pastor, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in nursing homes and assisted living centers visiting church members. Often I’m visiting with elderly people who are still vibrant—just needing assistance here and there. One of the things that I often don’t see when I visit are the children of the residents. In fact, more often than not, the pastor or church members end up seeing these precious people more often than their children do.
Is the Fourth Commandment more important than the Fifth Commandment? Interesting that the New Testament directly reminds us of Fifth Commandment-keeping more than it does Fourth Commandment-keeping. Yes, the Sabbath is mentioned a lot as identifying a particular day, but the New Testament never lists Sabbath breakers in a list of evils that will keep people out of the Kingdom. It does list people who don’t honor their parents, and reminds us of the importance of the commandment (2 Timothy 3, Ephesians 6, Hebrews 12:9).
I’ve had the privilege of taking care of my father for the last 12 years. It’s not always easy. But the rewards my family and I are receiving from this long season are more than I can count. I’m not suggesting that having parents live with you during their final years is the best idea for you, but I am suggesting that honoring your parents—not just in word but in action—is just as sacred a duty as keeping the Sabbath.
Recalibrate: What are the tangible ways you’ve observed the Fifth Commandment?
Respond: Find ways to thank God for your parents and how they’ve played a part in your development through the years.
Research: Here’s a great article on keeping the Fifth Commandment.
Remember: “You are God’s children whom He loves” (Ephesians 5:1, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Point to your little one and say “You are.” Point up and say “God’s.” Fold your arms as if rocking or hugging a baby and say “Child.” Say “Whom.” Point up and say “He.” And hug your little one saying “Loves.” Do the same thing but this time point to yourself. We are all God’s children whom He loves. Even if we are old, we are still God’s children and He still loves us. Talk with your little one about how we show someone we love them. We spend time together. We talk to each other. We cannot bear to be apart from the ones we love. Lead in love and your little one will follow.
Recite The Words to Remember for the week (Ephesians 5:1)! Leafy sea dragons. That is one clear way God shows me He loves me. He put amazing tiny seahorses covered in seaweed-like parts into the ocean, and every time I see them I feel joy. When we know we are loved, being happy or feeling joy is an easy feeling. Take a look around you and think about what you see and love that reminds you that you are God’s child and He loves you! Share what you find with a friend and explain why these things make you feel loved by God.
When you read stories about Jesus, does it say that He was only kind to the people who were nice to Him? No way! There were people who hated Jesus so much that they wanted to kill Him, but He still treated them with respect and kindness; He even loved them. Trust me, I know it sounds difficult to do this. Let me tell you a secret: it’s actually impossible. Because of sin in our world, it isn’t possible to be perfect. Jesus was the only perfect human who ever lived; He never sinned. He never lied, cheated, stole, or even had bad thoughts about people! He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He asks that we try our best to be like Him. So as you go through your day, try to be kind to every person you come across even if they aren’t nice to you.
I go to college at Walla Walla University which is about four hours and eleven minutes from my home (unless you’re my dad in which case that time shrinks to about three hours and thirty minutes). Since I’m so far from home, the only time I really go home is over break. And when I do go home over break, I tend to spend a lot of time catching up with my friends and going on trips to Seattle with them. Recently, I started to realize how much my parents pour into me and how little I return. Sometimes, it’s easy as a young person to forget how much they have sacrificed to give me an education and how much they have done to give me a good life. It’s easy for me to get so wrapped up in my own little world that I forget to text my mom and say, “Hey mom, I love you. I hope you have a good day.” Or to text my dad, saying, “Hope you have a good day at work! I appreciate what you do.” In Ephesians, Paul writes that we should honor our fathers and mothers. I believe that this is valuable advice. Yes, there are going to be times when we disagree with our parents and want to do things our own way. And yes, they aren’t always going to be perfect. But then again, none of us are perfect! But Paul still asks us to honor and love them. Find a way today to honor your parents. Maybe it’s writing them a text message of appreciation, asking about their day, listening to them, or even praying for them! Whatever it is, find ways to speak to their love language and practice actively honoring your parents.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.