Part of the wisdom of the Fifth commandment is ensuring that as the son learns to give praise and honor to his mother, he would absorb sympathetic love from her witness of piety and grace towards her superiors and through that would learn much towards how he is to care and provide for those God might one day grant him to serve in leadership both in the home and in the church. We teach so much by our own example, particularly when we seemingly gain nothing from the transaction.
Our catechism questions for today are going to start at the bottom and work their way up. As we have noted before the language here may be somewhat uncomfortable for us. This is because we live in an egalitarian age and the WLC was written in a more biblical time. Part of the tenor of the fifth commandment is that there is hierarchy, and that it is good. Everyone can’t be the same, and if society (including the Church) is to be rightly ordered than it is important that all men and women understand and know their role. A well-oiled and fabricated machine will run forever if this cog and that cog stay where they are supposed to. The second a flywheel decides it would be a better fit as a cylinder then your steam engine is going to go kablooie.
God has formed each human with dignity, respect, and purpose. Christians do not base their love and care for individuals upon fleshly categories of large or insignificant, or utilitarian ideas of what can this person do for me. All people great and small are made in His image and deserve the same benevolent passion regardless of where they might fit in His kingdom. That being said one of the sins mentioned below that it would be good for us to consider as we read the questions and answers for today is the transgression of “. . .envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, [a superior’s] persons and places. . .”. Humility, thanksgiving, and contentment are the marks of a committed believer in Jesus Christ and they more so than in maybe any other context come into play when it is time be gracious in obedience to God’s design for us in this life, so that we might be ready and able to enjoy the plan He has for us in the life to come. We’re to be who God made us.
As we meditate on that let’s go to the Q/A’s:
Q. 127. What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors?
A. The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behaviour; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defence, and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.