As parents, we have rules and guidelines for our children to follow. We teach them things that will help them live their lives happier and safer. We teach our children how to stay safe with strangers. We (hopefully) pay attention to their online activities and friends. We know who their friends are and try to know where our children are.
We teach them to clean up after themselves, and to help others. We teach them to respect us and others. We teach them to love themselves and others. We teach them to go to church.
We teach them by our own actions.
My children really are pretty good kids. I don’t stress about them because they have proven over the years that they love those around them. (Not always each other, because they are regular kids and they do fight just like all siblings I’ve ever seen.) But from the time my children were too young to even talk, I’ve taught them that they need to be kind and loving to those around them. I’ve taught them to look for kids being mistreated or who didn’t seem to have friends and befriend them and to stand up for them.
This always has come easy to me because I have two parents who set this example for me. This is a positive thing that has been passed down to my children too.
But what else do we pass down to our children? Good and bad?
We pass along strengths, talents (to an extent), beliefs (good and bad), positive attitudes, helpfulness, willingness, courage, acceptance, reason, love, joy, neutrality, pride, desire, anger, fear, weaknesses, negative attitudes, selfishness, apathy, guilt, shame….
You get the point.
How do we then make sure what we are passing along to our children is good?
This is going to sound simple, but we all know it’s not. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.
Yes, this is right! If we keep GOD’S COMMANDMENTS, then we will be happier and teach our children to be happier.
What are God’s Commandments?
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet.
We look at the first two commandments and think, done. I don’t believe in other gods or have any graven images, so I’ve got that one down. But “putting such things as material possessions, business, recreation, and prestige ahead of the Lord is to worship false gods. False gods or idols include “everything which entices a person away from duty, loyalty, and love for and service to God.” (Spencer W. Kimball)
“Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood. …
“Intangible things make just as ready gods. Degrees and letters and titles can become idols. …
“Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first—and then find they ‘cannot afford’ to pay [a tithe to the Lord]. Whom do they worship? Certainly not the Lord of heaven and earth. …
“Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings. Others have as their idols the games of sport, baseball, football, the bullfight, or golf. …
“Still another image men [and women] worship is that of power and prestige. … These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness.” (Spencer W. Kimball)
Now, you’ll find out this fall that I love college football. Huge fan here. This is not saying that you cannot love these things, but you cannot put them before God, or even your family. My kids may tell you that during BYU football games, they come in second. I’m working on that. But I have made the choice not to watch sports on the Sabbath Day (lucky me, BYU never plays on Sundays) and if there is something the Lord needs me to do that takes place during a game, I do it. Hopefully I can watch the game later, but if not, that’s okay too.
“Our obedience to God’s commandments comes from our desire to show our love for Him, for our fellow human beings, and for ourselves. While Jesus Christ was on earth, a man asked him, ‘Which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus replied,
“Jesus Christ teaches us in these few lines that at the heart of all these ‘do’s and don’ts’ is a focus on loving God and loving the people around us.” (2) (The Two Great Commandments)
The third commandment seems to be non-existent in most of the population of the world. I hear OMG (not shortened) and the Lord’s name taken in vain so many times a day it’s sickening. And I hear good Christians using it all the time too. I will simply say, STOP DOING IT! Find other ways to express yourself without breaking a major commandment of God!
For the forth commandment, again, most the world breaks this one too! Why do we think we must cause someone else to work on the Sabbath? If we go out to eat, go shopping, etc, and cause others to be away from church and their families, we are not keeping the Sabbath Day Holy or letting them. I’m not going to preach any further on this, start small if you need to, but this is the Lord’s Day and we should spend it honoring Him and doing good for others. Spend it with family, the sick and afflicted, the widows and widowers, and those who are in need. Spend it furthering the Lord’s work.
Honor thy father and mother. What does it mean to honor someone? It means to have respect for them, to hold them in high esteem. Parents, we have to be the kind of people that our children can respect.
I know that many have had hard lives and some, painful lives, at the hands of parents. My mother was severely abused at the hand of her father. And I do mean severely. He was an alcoholic, and a mean drunk at that. My grandmother had tried leaving him before and he found them and drug them back. When my mom was fourteen, he joined AA and became sober. The only thing that changed was that he didn’t drink. He wasn’t around much at all, and when my mom was eighteen, he met another woman (whom I love), and left my grandmother.
The man I knew was a better man than the one my mom grew up with, but he was still harsh. He went on to help many, many people become sober and helped them better their lives. I love my Pa pa even though he was not always a good man.
My mom honored him by not disrespecting him. She did not love him, and she even found it hard to look at his good qualities (which there were some). She treated her father well, with actual great decency, because of this commandment.
How do you honor a parent that abuses you and those you love? Some may even wonder how you honor someone who appears weak and stays with the abuser? (This kind of abuse will be a later blog post.) But I have watched my mother forgive the pains and heartaches caused at the hand of her parents. I have watched her honor them in the last years of their lives as she brought them into her home and she and my dad took care of them until they passed away. (They were no longer married.)
So, even when it’s hard, we are to honor our parents. God will not command us to do something that is impossible to do. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. But you need His help. We cannot do those seemingly impossible things alone.
Thou shalt not kill. Self explanatory, right.
“Though comparatively few mortals are seriously tempted to kill, many of us are more deeply affected by violations of this law than we realize. Peace continues to elude us in a world where killing is often an instrument of political strategy or personal gain. We seem to need a modern smoking Sinai from whose heights God might thunder down in power again: ‘Thou shalt not kill!’
“The tenth commandment teaches that anything we permit to come between us and the Lord—possessions, power, pleasure, or people—is a spiritual stumbling block.
“It was said after World War I that it had been the war to end all wars. The succeeding generation came to think after World War II that such horrors as the Holocaust, in which so many people had been exterminated, could never happen again while civilized nations looked on. Yet in our day, attempts at mass extermination have taken place in locations from southeast Asia to Africa to eastern Europe.
“The sixth commandment is also violated through the acts of serial killers or mass murderers from Moscow to Los Angeles. Death is almost epidemic in gang warfare punctuated with drive-by shootings and other senseless acts of violence, in big cities and small. This wanton killing brings untold misery to families who lose their loved ones, and it brings fear to those whose cities, villages, and neighborhoods are now unsafe.
“In our associations with each other on earth, violation of the sixth commandment represents the most heinous crime that can be perpetrated. The murderer, by terminating an individual’s earthly experience, sins grievously against the person he has killed. Those who murder steal the precious gift of mortal experience from another and set themselves in open opposition to God, the giver of life.
“Further, murderers place themselves in a position where it is impossible to ask forgiveness of the one sinned against or to make restitution—at least in this life.
“Many of the major moral issues of our day are related to the sixth commandment in one way or another. Today’s news headlines and broadcasts are full of issues like unto killing: suicide, abortion, mercy killing, toxic pollution, knowing transmittal of AIDS, and more.
“We need to guard constantly against greed and self-centeredness. These are often at the root of violence. As the Lord points out in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5:21–22), our problems that start with anger or the demeaning of others can escalate to more serious offenses—even murder, if selfishness or pride are manifest in violent outbursts.
“No person does himself or herself a service if he or she continually seeks out situations in which negative, ugly feelings are fostered. Sometimes our society seems to have a morbid fascination with the darker side of life, especially as it manifests itself in death and violence. We watch killing reenacted over and over—often in slow motion—in cinema and television. At times we may also seem to stand in danger of glorifying violence in sports and other competitive activities. The graphic portrayal of violence becomes a type of violence itself, perpetrated upon the audience. While some have argued for the cathartic value of vicarious brutality in the theater, others have attributed a rise in violent crime to the same source. We can judge for ourselves what reactions the viewing of savagery on television or in the movies engenders in us.
“…If most of society come[s] to value the sacredness of life, in all of its forms, with… reverence, there will be far fewer violations of the sixth commandment.
“Certainly one who comes to understand this will also understand why ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is a major commandment relative to our associations with our fellow beings. Killing is the antithesis of the mission that the Lord himself announced: “I am come that they might have life … more abundantly” (John 10:10). (Arthur R. Bassett)
This being said, we can defend our selves, our homes and families, our countries and freedoms, even to death when compelled by God. And God has given permissions over the ages to take another’s life in defense. But I believe we must know from God that He allows us to take up arms against another by living our lives in a manner that we are in communication with Him. That we can hear His Spirit well enough to let us know the actions we take are right. (And yes, I do believe in our Constitutional, God given right, to bear arms!)
Thou shalt not commit adultery. “No matter what the world may teach, the Lord’s standard of fidelity in marriage has never changed.” (W. Jeffrey Marsh)
In Galatians 5:16-17, 19 we read:
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.
The Apostle Paul is setting forth the standard for us where sex is concerned. We are to have sexual relations only with our husband or wife in which we are legally and lawfully bound. We should not have sex with anyone else, at any time. This means we should be virgins until we marry.
The world says that it’s not possible to hold out, to wait. The world wants teens even, to think that there’s nothing wrong with sex before marriage. I am telling you the world is wrong. You can wait. It is a cop out to tell yourself differently. My husband and I were both virgins when we married. Many are.
“The eighth commandment prohibits theft in all of its forms. The Lord’s law of love teaches us the commandment’s positive side: Respect the rights and property and needs of others.
“Often with theft—more is stolen than material goods. Victims lose possessions that represent bits of their lives, as well as being robbed of peace, when someone breaks the eighth commandment.(Richard D. Draper)
“Obedience to the ninth commandment frees us from the fear, insecurity, doubt, torment, and eventual condemnation that are the fruits of deceit.
“Its place on the list does not mean it is less consequential than other commandments. Peace, happiness, security, trust, and tranquility are in jeopardy when this commandment is ignored. The danger may be as obvious as the punishment of an individual for crimes he did not commit. It may be as subtle as the teaching of our children, by negative example, that shading the truth just a bit is acceptable so long as there is no chance of getting caught. In any case, bearing false witness—of which lying is just one aspect—erodes the souls of individuals and snips away at the cords of common trust that must bind any society together if it is to survive.” (Robert J. Matthews)
“The tenth commandment teaches that anything we permit to come between us and the Lord—possessions, power, pleasure, or people—is a spiritual stumbling block” (Brent L. Top)
When we covet, we are looking on something someone else has and wishing it was ours. Often, we don’t believe the person who has it truly deserves it. Many have been heard to say, “that’s not fair, how did they afford that” or “what did they do to get that”. We are wanting something we feel we deserve but haven’t obtained, believing we “work harder” and/or are “more deserving” than another.
This is damaging to your soul. This can lead to other sins, including adultery, theft, and murder. I love the TV show, Criminal Minds. I have learned that the people in the world who commit such heinous crimes are often from abusive and hurtful backgrounds. But unlike my mother, they did not chose to obey the commandments of God. They allowed bitterness and hate to fester and consume them.
My dear brothers and sisters in God, we can chose to FOLLOW GOD’S COMMANDMENTS and find PEACE and HAPPINESS in this world. We can have JOY.
If you are struggling with any of these things and would like to learn how to find the peace and joy in life I talk about, feel free to contact me. I would love to help you learn how to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life.