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A Certain Trumpet Honoring your father and your mother (fifth in a series)comment (0)

May 8, 2014

By Derek L. Staples

A Certain Trumpet  Honoring your father and your mother (fifth in a series)

Derek L. Staples is lead pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, and serves on the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ executive committee. He and his wife, Julie, have three sons.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12).

Charles Spurgeon is often quoted saying, “When home is ruled according to God’s Word, angels might be asked to stay with us, and they would not find themselves out of their element.”  

Do angels find themselves at home when in our presence, or are they appalled by the lack of honor being demonstrated in today’s family? Do you ever stop and wonder why God put honoring your parents on his Top 10 list? Could it be that God is trying to show us a fundamental truth that is necessary for healthy relationships in the home? Can we turn to the Scriptures to see a model of honor that reflects the heart of this fifth commandment?   

What does it mean to honor your parents?

‘To give weight to’

The Hebrew word for “honor” means “to give weight to” or “to be heavy.” To honor someone is to place a high value on them, to hold them in high esteem, to treat them with a ton of respect. We do so because God has established authority in every realm of life — in government, in the church and especially in the family.

I have heard it said many times, “Every moment is a teachable moment.” In “Where is Moses When We Need Him,” authors Bill and Kathy Peel remind parents to teach their children the values that matter most. Their insights apply to both first-time and long-time parents. Their premise: “What we leave in our children is far more important than what we leave to them” (p. 20). We are to leave a legacy of honor by obedience and respect.  

Teach your children to honor you. Help them understand that a life of obedience leads to a long and happy life. Let them see you give honor and respect. 

My wife and I are blessed to have parents who love the Lord and who love each other. They have taught us the value of honor and respect. My parents have been married for 57 years. My in-laws have been married for 52 years. We are so thankful to have these role models before our sons. They are indeed worthy of a ton of respect.  

Why honor your parents?

Most divide the commandments into two categories, the first four being our duty to God with the last six our duty to our fellow man. Pastor and author Alistair Begg divides the commandments five and five, thereby placing the honoring of parents under duty to God. He then adds, “This makes sense. How could we ever claim to honor God, whom we have not seen, if we fail to honor our parents, whom we do see?” (p. 119).

God says to honor your parents “that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12). Moses repeats this command in an Old Testament parallel passage (Deut. 5:16). He says we are to honor our parents so that “it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Paul reminds the church at Ephesus and Colossae of the fifth commandment. To the Ephesians he says to honor them because “this is right” (Eph. 6:1), and to the Colossians he says honoring parents “pleases the Lord” (Col. 3:20). Although we may no longer be directly under parental authority, we never outgrow God’s command to honor our parents. The benefits are long-lasting. From these texts we find the immense value of honoring our parents:

  • It adds longevity to your life.
  • It brings pleasure to your life.
  • It is the right thing to do. 
  • It pleases the Lord. 

How do you honor your parents?

How can a son ever give back the kind of sacrificial love his parents so graciously poured out to him over the years? In my family, how do I express honor to two selfless people who sacrificed so much for their five children? A few years ago I sat in a hospital room with my mom after she had suffered a stroke and, in the middle of the night, I began thinking about this commandment. Here are some things I scribbled:  

  • I can share with my siblings the privilege of caring for my parents during the latter stages of their lives.
  • I can honor my marriage the way my parents have honored theirs for 57 years.
  • I can model for my children what honor looks like in the home. My boys will learn how to honor their parents by observing how my wife and I honor our parents. Remember: “We reap what we sow.”
  • I can teach the principle of honor in the home to my church family.  

These are just a few of the ways I can honor my parents. What about you? What are you doing today to express honor to your parents?  

Who is your role model when it comes to honor?

Our model for parental honor and respect is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He submitted to both His earthly parents (Luke 2:51) and His heavenly Father (Matt. 26:39). Jesus best exemplifies what is meant by parental honor through His life, death and resurrection. From the time of His birth to the time of His death Jesus had this one thing in mind: to please and honor His heavenly Father and perfectly perform the task that the Father had sent Him to do (John 4:34; 8:29). In this we see that parental honor is firmly rooted in the message of the gospel.  

Perfect obedience

Jesus Christ, the eternal second person of the Trinity, entered His creation wrought with decay and death thanks to our rebellious sin. He lived the life we could not (perfect obedience) and died in our stead (your place and mine), all in complete obedience to His heavenly Father. Therefore one cannot fully comprehend the gravity of this fifth commandment without first seeing the imperative of obedience that is woven throughout the life of Christ and His redemptive gospel. It is only when I bow in brokenness and submission to Christ’s lordship that I fully understand and appreciate what is meant by “honoring your parents.”   

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