The 5th Commandment

hugging father and sonThis is the sixth post in this series on the 10 Commandments. The previous posts in this series were:

1). Does God Change,
2). The 1st Commandment,
3). The 2nd Commandment,
4). The 3rd Commandment, and
5). The 4th Commandment.

In the 1st four Commandments God teaches us how we are to relate to, honor, obey and respect Him. In the following six Commandments God teaches us how to relate to, honor and respect each other.

So, let’s take a good look at the 5th Commandment, and consider what it says to us.

 

Exodus 20:12

   12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Okay, so we have the command to honor our father and mother, but what exactly is honor and how do we express it? Let’s take a look at how an online dictionary describes honor:

Honor
1. honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions: a man of honor.
2. a source of credit or distinction: to be an honor to one’s family.
3. high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank: to be held in honor.
4. such respect manifested: a memorial in honor of the dead.
5. high public esteem; fame; glory: He has earned his position of honor.

So honor seems to describe a set of character traits such as honesty, fairness and respect we need to show our parents.

Now many people look at this Commandment from the view point of how a child and teen should treat his or her parents. And although that is definitely a part of it, I believe it goes even further. I believe it’s just as much directed to adults who are no longer under the control of their parents.

From the following scriptures I think it’s irrefutable that it’s extremely important to God how we treat our parents.

 

Ephesians 6:1-3

6 Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.

Colossians 3:20

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Another thing I’d like to point out is in order to honor our parents or anyone for that matter, you must be an honorable person. That doesn’t mean perfect, that doesn’t mean someone who never gets mad or makes mistakes, it means being a person of character.

Now where things can get complicated is if one or both of the parents are not very honorable people. Honoring someone like that can be difficult if not close to impossible. What if someone was sexually assaulted by a parent while they were young, does God expect us to treat someone like that with honor?

What about if one or both of your parents were drug addicts or alcoholics and were abusive and neglected you? Does God expect us to treat such ones with honor?

I don’t believe honoring someone is always about holding them in high esteem or respect. Maybe in cases like that, the way your honor those parents is by forgiving the terrible things they’ve done. There’s no ignoring that some people are broken, selfish or just plain bad, and unfortunately innocent children often suffer. In such cases I don’t believe God would necessarily expect you to be involved in their lives. Of course, if you are Christ’s, you need to offer them the same grace as He offers us, if they repent of those things they’ve done to you. In such cases forgiveness and not holding a grudge may be the only way you can honor them.

With those exceptions aside I think most of us had parents who were imperfect, but loved us. My parents weren’t perfect, and were divorced when I was 11. And although there were periods of anger, sadness, fear and confusion during those times, looking back I can see both my parents loved me. They were imperfect as all of us are imperfect, but are definitely deserving of my respect and honor toward them.

If we want to make sure we are keeping God’s 5th Commandment, we need to understand if or how we are honoring or dishonoring our parents?

Do you rarely ever see or even speak to your parents, because you’re just too busy with your own life? When you do speak with your parents are you critical and argumentative toward them instead of showing them respect? Are you there for them like they were there for you? Do you try to help them financially, even in small ways, if they’re living on a fixed income? God expected the church to help widows who were truly widows, but he expected children and even grandchildren to help the widows and even elderly parents in their families.

 

1 Timothy 5:3-4

3 Support widows who are genuinely widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God.

I realize it’s not always easy to spend time with parents when you live states away. I know not everyone has lots of extra money to help their parents, but most of us can help in small ways. I know we may differ on politics, religion and other areas of life with our parents, but that’s no reason to dishonor them. There are many people and things I disagree with in life, but I don’t make it a habit to argue with them about it. We all have a right to our opinions and trying to argue others into agreeing with us is a dishonorable act. Even if you believe someone is misinformed or just plain wrong, we still need to treat them with respect.

Also, the 5th Commandment isn’t just about what we do or don’t do, it’s about what’s in our heart. We can just as easily honor or dishonor our parents and others in the way we think about them. Actions follow thoughts so if you’re thinking honorably or dishonorably about others, you’re actions will follow. If you are not treating your parents and others with honor and respect then there just might be a heart issue that needs to be dealt with. If that is the case, you need to go to the only one who can heal that heart issue.

There are times coming, and may even already be here where the following scripture talks about a generation will be all about themselves and dishonorable toward their own parents.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-3

1 But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good,

I am starting to see more and more of that behavior in a lot of the younger generation, and it saddens me. Or course if you’re reading this post, I’m pretty sure you don’t fit into the category of the above scripture. With that said, you still need to ask yourself if you have been honorable toward you parents. If you haven’t, you need to fix that. Even if something has happened and you’re on the outs with your parents you can turn it around. Do whatever is in your power to make things right. Ask for God’s guidance and help, and you can trust He will help you make things right; at least on your part. And if it turns out because of hurt or anger your parents don’t want to make amends, you can still honor them by your forgiveness and willingness to make things right.

Being a parent is tough and it deserves all the grace and honor we can afford them.

God bless you all!

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  • There is no doubt in my mind Mike that kids treat their parents differently today than when I was a kid. I didn’t dare talk to my folks like they do today. To call my dad or mom “the old man” or “the old lady” was simply unacceptable. I hope somewhere along the line we see a swing back to respect and honor.

    • Mike

      Hey Bill, you’re so right. When I was a kid if I had spoken to one of my parents the way many do now I’d be picking myself up off the floor. It’s not that they were abusive, but it was just not tolerated. A sad thing I see happening now is many elderly people are very lonely because their grown children don’t seem to have any time for them. My mother is the envy of her neighborhood because she has more visitors than any of her neighbors and it’s mostly her kids and grand kids. Good to hear from you.

  • This is a good reminder, Mike. I think even those of us with a little bit of wisdom under our belts need to be reminded to honor our parents and our elders as well. It’s amazing how it brings us honor when we honor our Father or others. Good word, brother. Thanks.

    • Mike

      It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget about our elderly parents. It’s sad to see how many of them are all alone yet have children that are just to busy to spend any time with them. Also, when we honor our parents we honor our God. Great to hear from you. My life has been so busy with work lately I haven’t been able to get myself to sit down and write in over a month. Hope to change that. Have a great day!