Honor the Aged

01 June 2010

What is sin?  Sin occurs when a person violates G-d's Law (1 John 3:4).  When we violate G-d's commandments, either those given broadly in Scripture (e.g. do not commit murder) or those given directly to us as individuals by the Holy Spirit (e.g. "go minister to that guy sitting by himself in the cafeteria"), we are sinning.

Sin comes in many shapes, forms, and sizes.  There have been books and books written about sin including "respectable sins"... those sins that we tend to trivialize because they aren't in the Ten Commandments or aren't terribly offensive to us as individuals.  We should be aware that, in the sense of salvation, a sin is a sin is a sin.  Any one of them ("big" or "small") merit G-d's judgment and separate us from Him.  Praise be to G-d that He has provided forgiveness for our sins as a consequence of faith in His Messiah.

One of these so-called "respectable sins" is found in the book of Leviticus-

You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.  (Leviticus 19:32)

G-d says that we should rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged as an expression of (and resulting from) a reverence for Him.

Now you may be asking yourself "Why out of all the hundreds of commandments in the Bible is he bringing THIS one up?"  Two reasons:

1) I believe many of us have been raised spiritually in churches that teach a love of G-d but not a reverence for G-d.  We can all do well (myself included) to be reminded that we are to revere G-d.

2) This is one of the little things that often isn't on our radar but is something that was recently brought to my attention by this Fox News story with the headline "Grandmother Arrested After Slapping Granddaughter for Cursing at Her".

The grandmother in the story was arrested for battery after she slapped her granddaughter for swearing at her.  Many will likely read the story and shake their heads wondering how we could have gotten to this point in our country.

We got to this point because we crossed a line.

We crossed a line that G-d drew for us in Leviticus 19.  And it wasn't just the family in the story.  It was my family and likely your family because we have failed to teach our children a reverence for G-d that is expressed in standing up when a grayheaded person enters the room and in honoring the aged.  We can honor them in many ways... including allowing them to go ahead of us in lines, offering them our seat on a bus or train, or any way that allows them to be served ahead of ourselves.

When we send men and women in the armed forces into battle it is with the knowledge that they have been trained and prepared for their specific function in that battle.  They have been prepared with foundational strength building exercises (like push-ups) to build the physical muscle required to perform the tasks assigned to them.  We often send our children into situations in life without even the most basic preparation in a spiritual sense.  This commandment to honor the aged is a spiritual equivalent of push-ups.  The commandment itself is not the point.  It is by doing the commandment that we build the spiritual "muscles" that prepare us for greater things.

Consider these words of the Master:

And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.  (Luke 12:47-48)

We have been given much.  We have been given the whole Word of G-d and His Holy Spirit to guide us in it.

Rise before the grayheaded.

Honor the aged.

Revere G-d.


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