Today I had a great communication lesson. A church member said that in my latest sermon on honoring your parents, I limited the promise in the fifth commandment only to Israel. I didn't think I had, and don't think that's true - Paul doesn't limit it, in Ephesians 6:1-3, obviously.
So I checked my notes.
Low and behold, through a deadly combination of omission and qualification, it's easy to see how they heard such a limitation. Here is the paragraph from my notes, with some all caps added now to fix it.
"This promise is made to Israel as a nation, for how long they would be in the land of Canaan. [SHOULD HAVE ADDED HERE, THAT THE PROMISE CONTINUES TO APPLY TO US!!] It would be a mistake to take this promise individualistically. Sometimes those who follow God’s ways closely have a very hard time of it in life, and die young. We have no proof statistically that obedient Christians live longer lives than unbelievers. That is not the point. The point is that communities and extended families that honor their parents and authorities have a solid and lasting foundation, not a disintegrating culture. Promise refers [AS A GENERAL PRINCIPLE ON EARTH, AND FULFILLED FULLY IN] to new heavens and earth. The meek shall inherit the earth, but not every individual in their earthly life."
I spent so much time qualifying the promise, so that we don't have to doubt God's Word if a faithful Christian dies young. But I forgot to say first that this promise DOES apply to God's people today as a general principle.
So the lesson I learned is to objectively explain the basic truth, before jumping to lean a certain way with it in application.