“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”
As we continue in our series relationships not rules, we come to the fifth command and the first commandment revolving around our relationship with others. Remember the first 4 revolve around our relationship with God, and how we respond to God will determine how we respond to others. If we don’t respect God and His authority, we won’t respect any other authority. It’s not a coincidence that the first commandment began with our relationship to our heavenly father, and the first command that revolves around our relationship with other people begins with our relationship to our earthly father and mother. So why when it comes to our relationship with other people does God start with our relationship with our parents. It’s our first real relationship and it sets the stage for all our other relationships. How you relate to your parents will impact how you relate to other people, your spouse, kids, your boss so on and so on. Just as the 1st commandment sets the stage for everything spiritually in our relationship to our heavenly Father, so this 5th commandment sets the stage for every earthly relationship we will have. If we fail to honor authority in the position of earthly parents, we will fail to be honorable as earthly parents! Just like the last command keeping the Sabbath holy and working 6 days had 2 parts, worship and work so this command also has 2 parts. It’s about both children honoring their parents as well as parents being honorable. This message of responding with respect and reflecting respect goes contrary to our current culture. Instead we have a culture that encourages us to respond with rudeness when we don’t get our way. Because many of us have experienced pain either from our parents or pain as parents I want to start with pray. Father I know there are those reading this who carry father wounds from men who chose to parent according to the world and not the Word. I pray that you would heal the deep hurts of their heart by lavishing your love on them so that they would know the love of their heavenly Father. I pray for us as earthly fathers who are not only disrespected and laughed at by the culture, but who often feel like failures as fathers that today would not be just another chiding but a challenge for us to be the mighty men you have called us to be. Help us to face our fears and be the kind of fathers and mothers that model your grace and goodness. We pray all this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. The two parts to this commandment revolve around children honoring their parentsand parents being honorable!The Bible teaches us that God places a high value on the institution of the home, and that much of what we become in life is influenced by the early years and how we respond to our parent’s authority. This commandment speaks to both children and parents and to our society as a whole.When it comes to God’s Word our tendency is to focus on what others are called to do not what God has called us to do. That’s why when we come to messages like this, kids tend to focus on parents being honorable instead of on honoring their parents. Parents are also prone to focus on their kids honoring them instead of being honorable.
- THE HONORING STAGE
A. Respecting Authority
The first authority we encounter in this life is our parents. Their first act of authority is to name us. But they are not just called to name us but to teach and train us how to navigate this thing called life. There are 3 stages in our life we must navigate successfully in order to become healthy adults:
- Early Childhood stage: “enforced obedience”
This is where we set boundaries for our kids that will become a blessing, but don’t be surprised if your kids view them as a burden. What they may view as a parent being a pain is actually a parent protect them from pain. This stage can be exhausting because it takes time for kids to learn. The key is to be consistent and caring. Grace based parenting recognizes that God doesn’t just punish bad behavior He rewards good behavior. Notice that this command comes with a promise. Long life, which is what adults spend billions of dollars trying to achieve today. But the key to a long life is not lotions and potions but to obey the Lord of life. So, parents do you tend to lean toward reward-based parenting or punishment-based parenting? We are called to Faith based not fear based. Some of you will argue but our kids need a dose of healthy fear, I agree that’s called reverence. But there is a difference between reverence and fear, fear focuses on rules, reverence revolves around a relationship. This simple statement by Paul in Eph. 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”reflects this early stage, Paul does not elaborate on the philosophy of it, just the simple truth of it! Paul reminds us of and important point, that it’s not just about the rules it revolves around relationship. Enforced obedience with love and good balances makes the next stage, willful obedience not only more acceptable but a more natural progression.
- Youth stage: “willful obedience”
Our problem as parents is, we want willful obedience without ever having provided enforced obedience. Paul’s point here in Ephesians 6:2-3 about the 5th commandment and ‘honoring’ parents so that blessings may come indicates this second phase. Willful obedience in youth matters because it helps produce a healthy adult who can exercise authority and mutually submit to other authority. One of the reasons we have such a problem with police today is because we have thrown willful obedience out the window. Rebelliousness at this stage often makes for a rough transition later to adulthood and the dynamics of authority. But again, cultivating willful obedience involves not just consequences but rewards. I want to challenge you as parents to try and catch your kids doing things right not just wrong, and then reward them. Several years ago, one of my daughter stood up for another student who was being picked on. A teacher saw it and shared what happened with me at a parent teacher conference. So, I wrote her a note thanking her for caring for others, I gave her a gift card and encouraged her to take her friends out. I rewarded her with more responsibility. Why because I recognized she wasn’t just being responsible she was living right. And so, I gave her the greatest treasure I could, trust. Some of you are fearful that your kids will fail, you believe the worst not the best. You say you want them to make good decisions, but you don’t believe they will. They ask to borrow the car you tell them they need to be back by 10pm but you don’t think they will. You ask your friends to pray saying you want them to be responsible, but the truth is you need your kids to fail in order to justify your feelings. Because if they succeed you were wrong. Many parents are projecting failure on their kids because their feelings and their fears have become more important than their call. Give your kids grace, because grace gives them room to grow. Don’t treat them like they are 6 when they are 16. Many parents never move past the enforced obedience stage and so when their kids leave home for the first time and no one is enforcing obedience they fall apart and fail. Parents learn to pick your battles, major on the mountains not the mole hills. Is a clean room important yes but not as important as a clean and caring heart. Be wise in your decisions not worldly. In the honoring stage are you teaching your kids to respect authority so that they we reflect God’s authority?