#5 Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land…”
If our family ties are weak then other relational ties will be weak as well. Even the sequence of the Ten Commandments underscores this truth. The first four commands basically tell us how we are to relate to God. Then the fifth commandment tells us how we are to relate to our parents. And the five that follow tell us how we are to relate to our fellow man.
So, this command about honoring parents is placed squarely in the center of these two categories of commands. If you had the Ten Commandments written evenly spaced on a sheet of binder paper and folded it in half, top to bottom, the fifth commandment would be right at the fold. I don’t think this was an accident for these words are central to the other commands and even to life itself. Our obedience to this command affects everything about your life and mine. Just as the fifth commandment would appear at the fold of the piece of paper so it also appears at the fold of our lives. In many ways our destiny hinges on how we respond to this command. It affects our future. It affects how we process the past. It affects our right now. Healthy relationships in the home affect all of our lives. This is true because the home is really “a laboratory for living.” It is within the home that each of us develop our formative character traits. This is where we all learn to discipline ourselves where we develop our moral code. One learns, or fails to learn how to live harmoniously within society in his or her home.
- It’s more about the position parents hold than the perfection they hold.
All of us have weaknesses and faults and inconsistencies, mistakes. Only God is the perfect parent. Even the best parents have made mistakes and sinned. The Bible says, “We’ve all sinned.” As a result we’re all warped.
There are many parents who are unworthy of honor. They were abusive, manipulative, neglectful. What is God telling me to do? Am I supposed to ignore the pain, put on a happy face and pretend everything is great? No, you’re not. But God is saying I want you to honor the position of parenthood.
Home is where respect for authority begins.
Authority is the basis for an orderly society. God wants us to honor the position of parenthood regardless of the personality behind it.
When we go to a judge and you say, “Your honor” we’re not making a value judgement about that guy or gal’s character — he or she may be a jerk. We’re saying “Your honor”, and showing respect for the position. God says He put parents in a position of authority over us in our early age. So we are to respect it.
How I relate to my parents will affect every other relationship
It is the major forming factor in our lives. Our style of relating is set at home. Even today, as a grown up, when we act in ways we don’t understand and can’t figure out our behavior, many times it’s because we’re still living out what we lived with our parents. Niki said; it was good for me to grow up in a home with a strong take-charge dad. I needed that, and it was good, but in other ways I can do things like my dad that are not good. Many marriages have been ruined because a spouse has never resolved a relationship with a parent and they’re taking it out on their husband or wife or kids. They say things like “You’re just like my mom.” Surveys have shown that people who get along with their parents have far less stress in their lives.
What’s great about this principle of honoring parents is that Jesus as our example. He is our model. He says honor father and mother and he did just that. He who was the Savior of the world spent ten elevenths of His life in a village home. 30 years old, Tradition teaches us that Joseph, Mary’s husband died young, so Jesus, the eldest son, His mother’s first-born, took upon Himself the burden of the support of Mary His mother, and of His younger half brothers and sisters. He faithfully and dutifully discharged His duties to His home and to His mother and apparently did not begin His earthly ministry until His half-siblings were old enough to take over. His first miracle was because his mother asked him to do so. One of his last words on the cross was for John to take care of his mother.
It’s easy to take parents for granted. Some of you had super parents and it’s easy for you to appreciate them. For some of us it’s a little more difficult. I would suggest that there are at least two things we can appreciate about our parents regardless who they were:
We can appreciate/honor their effort. Parenting is a difficult, time-demanding, energy draining job. As a parent myself I have a new appreciation of what my parents went through. It takes incredible energy just to corral my kids, much less teach them anything. Have you ever considered how much easier your parents’ life would have been if they hadn’t had you?
We honor our parents for the simple reason that they have done so much for us — starting at the very beginning of our lives. You know all animal babies are somewhat defenseless at birth but a human infant is dependent upon adults for nurture longer than any animal. The moment we popped into this world they kept us warm and fed us and protected us changed hundreds of dirty diapers! and many years passed until we were old enough to care for ourselves — so of course we should be grateful!
They say they can tell the stress in the different years of a tree’s life if you cut it and look at the rings. Certain rings are real small, those are years of crisis and stress. I would say that for many of us, our lives growing up could be seen in our parent’s grey hair. When was the last time you thanked your parents for just putting up with you? Who else would have?
A boy who was talking to a friend at school. He said, “I’m really worried.” And his friend asked, “What are you worried about?” He said, “My dad works hard to provide for the needs of our home. Mom washes the clothes, prepares the meals, and keeps the house clean.” His friend said, “Well, what in the world are you worried about?” The boy replied, “I’m afraid they might try and ESCAPE!”
We can appreciate their sacrifice. Parenting is expensive. The economics today alone are staggering. If you’re a parent today it will cost you to raise a child to maturity about a quarter of a million dollars.
Could be easy to see Kaleb and Noel running toward me and me think., “there’s half a million dollars! You better honor me!”
Somebody said a father is somebody who carries pictures where he once carried money. Posing for the family portrait: the dad said “Why don’t you have my kids put their hands in my pockets so it will look natural.”
When a couple chooses to have kids they are choosing to do without some other things. So we should appreciate the sacrifice. What could your parents have afforded if they hadn’t spent that money on you, and your clothes, your school, your doctor bills?
For many parents, growing older, the older they get the less respect they get. All of their affirming friends start to die off. They are no longer wanted in the market place for their skills and wisdom. Their grown children are busy with their own families. They lead lonely lives. Our parents have a great need, a desperate need, to feel and to know that they made some kind of positive contribution in your life. They need affirmation. God says He wants you to affirm your parents for the rest of your life as long as they’re alive.
Affirm your parents now. All the flowers in the world at their funeral won’t do them one bit of good. The flowers at the funeral are for your benefit, not theirs. If you’re going to give them flowers, send it to them while they’re alive, not when they’re dead.
The Bible says that the way you treat our older, elderly parents is the demonstration of our true faith.
“Anyone who won’t care for his own relatives when they need help, especially his own family, has no right to say he is a Christian. Such a person is worse than the heathen.” I Tim 5:8
There is a shameful tragedy in our society today where busy families are abandoning the elderly and the aged to die all alone. The Bible teaches when our parents or our grandparents become too old to care for themselves it is not the government’s responsibility, it’s ours. This is the cycle of the family. As time passes, the rolls reverse. Where, at one point in life, they fed you, bathed you, and cared for you, and took care of you. As they grow older, people are living older, longer, the roles are reversed. And it may be that we will need to feed them, and bathe them, and care for them.
Let’s honor our fathers and mothers.