Today I am headed for Portugal after a great week at home with my family and friends. It was a great weekend with the joining of Jonathan and Alyssa Smith in marriage and then a great Sunday hearing my friend Andrew Shearman sharing the treasures of his heart. The community of home and the community of family was good!
A culture of honor is a revelation of values. Honor is a recognition of who someone is and a giving of attitude and action that acknowledges your recognition of who they are. A culture of honor exhibits an attitude and an acknowledgment to the value of who God is, the value of worship and loving God, the value of God’s will and the testimony of His name, the value of God’s presence resting in our lives, and the value of inheritance – the legacy of our family name. Honoring our father and mother is a valuing of inheritance and honoring that authority is an honor both to God and to man. This is the bridge between loving God and loving others as we love ourselves. Today I want to address another value in a culture of honor. It is the value of human life. This value is expressed in a simple command found in the words of God through Moses.
Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder.
This is very simply. This looks like a command, but it is a value. The first act of sin of man toward man was one of murder. Cain was jealous of his brother Able and took his life, thinking that eliminating his brother would make himself more valuable in the earth. There were issues of iniquity in Cain’s heart that led to his act of murdering his brother. Those iniquities blinded Cain from understanding the true value of human life. Cain was not defending life, but seeking to take it for the sake of his own indulgent desires. His actions were the ultimate expression of human selfishness and a cheapening of human value. Honoring the image of ourselves above the likeness and image of God in another human person is a dishonor with grave consequences.
When my mother was pregnant with me she was almost 47 years old. She had problems with diabetes, a heart condition and when complications began to manifest during her pregnancy with me, she was counseled by five doctors that they needed to do something to save her life. This would include taking the baby that was in her womb. This was before abortion was legal in the U.S., but sometimes life-saving measures were necessary. My mom had nine living children and a tenth child before me had died at birth. His name was Joel. When she became pregnant with me she felt that God had given her a gift. She believed that God had given her a child to replace the one she had lost. She told the doctors, “No, this child is a gift from God.” They said if she carried the child she may die, the child would likely die, and if the child were to live it would never be normal. My mom refused to give up that child! She valued the gift of life, even at the risk of her own life! My mom’s honor for life prevailed for herself and her child. My mom did live through that childbirth. I was born early with some challenges in my breathing and I was placed in an incubator to compensate for my need for further development. I remained in that incubator for a month, but I made it and I am now 61 years old and I am very happy that my mother valued my life even to the risk of her own.
I knew that story growing up and I understood something of the value of life. In America, in 1973, there were many debates over whether abortion should be legal or not. In those debates they presented that thousands of women were dying because abortion was not legal. Those reports were greatly exaggerated in order to pass legislation that granted legal right to the deception of abortion in our country. During this time of the debate on the legalization of abortion I was in school. Many teachers love to debate political issues. I had a political science class and my teacher allowed debates in the class in regard to legalizing abortion or not. I was not a Christian. I was just a young man that knew the story of my birth. I went to my teacher and gave him a scenario. “Let’s say there is a woman who is almost 47 years old, diabetic, with a heart condition and five doctors recommend the baby be taken because she is likely to die, the baby is going to likely die, and if by some means the baby survives it will likely never be normal.” His answer to me was, “abortion”. I reached out and took his hand and said, “Congratulations, you just ended my life. That was my mother and that was me.” By the same criteria the life of Beethoven would have been ended. By this measure the life of Helen Keller would have been rejected. By the same criteria the life of a man named Nick Vujicic would have been ended. Nick has no arms and no legs, but he speaks to thousands of teenagers in regard to valuing who they are. His message is that every human life is beautiful and every human life should be loved. By the standards of the world there is something wrong with Nick, but he knows he could never speak to the thousands that he does had he been like everyone else. He knows he has been given a gift to talk to others about the value of life. I know some people who have an extra chromosome in their physical DNA and they are down syndrome. I know them to be loving, caring, and special people with a special grace for life in the human race. Each and every human is a life of great value and each and every human is meant to reveal something of the likeness and image of a heavenly Father.
In John Chapter 9 there is a story of a man who was born blind from birth. Those living in a culture bound to a mindset of law wanted to know who had sinned for the man to be blind. Jesus pointed out that the man was not blind because of anyone’s sin. He was blind for the glory of God. God loved the man just as he was and had come to show him who life really depends upon. The only One Jesus, had come to show the blind man he too was an ‘only one’ to God. I don’t believe that sight was the true miracle in the story, because when Jesus was questioned by the religious for healing the blind man on the Sabbath Jesus said to them, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Those who saw thought judgment was marked by an abnormal life. They reasoned that if there was something wrong with you then someone has obviously done something wrong. But who said that if you are blind there is something wrong with you? Is there a challenge? Absolutely! Can there be more freedom? Absolutely! Does the blind man have skills that those who can see do not have? Absolutely! He sees in a different way. He doesn’t see with his eyes. He probably hears things those with eyes never realize can be heard. He probably senses things that others miss in their everyday surroundings. The blind man, like everyone, was an ‘only one’ and God wanted to reveal to him the value of who he was. God wants each and every human life to depend upon Him so He can show each and every one the true value of who they really are.
The blind man had a revelation of God’s love. He was dependent upon Jesus, because he could now see. His dependence was not birthed from need, but from passion. He knew that without Jesus he would still be blind and He also knew that it was Jesus who showed him how valuable his own life was to God. God had taken the time to find the blind man, because the blind man couldn’t see God to find Him.
Jesus had also come for the Pharisees. He came to destroy their dependence upon the law. He came to destroy what they could see so they would depend upon the one they could not see. He wanted each of them to know that they too were an ‘only one’ to God. Who each of them were was more important than what each one could or could not do.
You shall not murder is a testament to the value of each and every life. A value for life is a part of a culture of honor and each and every one is an ‘only one’ to God. For this reason, God gave His only begotten Son to die as the price of value for each and every child of God! You are not just one in seven billion. You are a one and only one. This is your value and this is the value of your neighbor. It can only be understood in a culture of honor that knows that each and every one has been born to reveal something of the likeness and image of their heavenly Father in this world.
Ted J. Hanson