Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
Here’s a command parents love more than most kids! It’s a command with a promise. Most parents could translate that promise like a comedian did for his kids in a joking way, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out. I can make another one of you.”
Seriously, though, consider the value that the word “honor” presents. It’s more than just obedience, but willing obedience, considering the worth and respect for the ones you are obeying. Honor comes out of genuine love and results in harmony, peace, and healthy relationships at home.
God is concerned about the family. In fact, the home was the first institution that God created before the church or the government. How important is family to you? The breakdown of every society in history began with the breakdown in the home. Disrespect, dishonor, divorce, and rebellion destroy families and ultimately erode the strength of a society and a nation. God offers healing to those who have suffered the pain of a broken home. That’s really the whole point behind the Ten Commandments. These are God’s ideal standards for a happy and fulfilled life and a right relationship with Him. Sin disables us from keeping them so God provided a Savior, His own Son. And, these laws were given to drive us to the Savior so that, through Him, we may find healing for our brokenness. Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Only through Christ can we, too, fulfill the law that He gave us. Through our union with Christ and His life indwelling us, we have the capacity to honor others in authority over us even when they may not deserve it.
The Fifth Commandment instructs us to “honor” our parents. That’s easy when we have a loving and supportive mother and father. What about those who are dishonorable? How can you honor someone like that? If you are struggling to honor a parent or person in authority, draw your motivation more from your love for God than your love for them. We live in a fallen world and, too often, we experience pain from others who intentionally or unintentionally hurt us. In defense, we pull back to protect our hearts and are tempted to dishonor those that God commands us to honor. People can be unlovely. That’s why Jesus gave Peter the secret to successful ministry when He restored him on the shores of Galilee in John 21. It’s the same secret for honoring others even when they may act dishonorably. Jesus asked Peter, “Peter, do you love Me?” Peter said, “Yes, Lord. I love you.” Then, Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.” Notice that Jesus didn’t ask Peter if he loved sheep. After all, Peter was a fisherman and not a shepherd. He may not have even liked those smelly, not-so-smart creatures. He asked Peter if he loved Him. That’s critical for the success of fulfilling anything that God commands us to do.
It’s not the measure of our love for others or their loveliness but our love for Christ that will enable us to do what He says. In what ways can you show honor to your parents today, regardless of their age or yours? One practical way is to express at least one thing about them for which you honor. It could just change the trajectory of your relationship.