Here is my sermon on the 5th Commandment: Honor your father and mother. I seem to have a lot of people hitting this blog who are looking for sermons on the Ten Commandments. If these are helping you in any way, please leave a comment; I would love to hear from you.
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Happy 2007 everybody…
Review from November when we started the TC series.
I want to point out several things so that we can recall where we left off.
The TC came about during the course of history as God was bringing His people back to Himself. Remember, God created the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve walked with God in fellowship. Sin entered into that picture, and the fellowship was broken, because a holy God cannot be where there is un-holiness. But God begins this process of bringing and redeeming these people back to Himself. It started with Abraham when he received the promise from God that he would be made into a great nation and God would call that nation by His name. Then, as time goes by, this nation is taken into captivity in Egypt where they are made slaves. God sends Moses to set them free…and he does…and they begin wandering in the desert for this land that was promised to them. And all while this is going on, God is beginning to set some things into place for this nation to be established.
And one of those things was the TC. The TC became the very foundation on which the nation was to function. TC from God’s very own mouth.
If you remember, the TC are broken up into two groups…
The first 4C deal with our relationship with God:
1) You shall have no other gods before me.
In these words, God is setting Himself apart from all other things or people or whatevers that may be turned into gods (with a little ‘g’). And anything that we place ahead of God becomes a god (little ‘g’).
2) You shall not make for yourself an idol.
This commandment dealt specifically with things that we make into idols. The original language implies the act of “carving” or “crafting” an idol. This is not as prevalent today as it was when God gave the TC, because the people worshiped the things that they made. What God is reminding us is that He cannot be reduced into a statue or a work of art. We cannot worship those things…because God created those things. And the same thing goes for the sun, the moon, the mountains, the lakes, or whatever in this world people worship…God cannot be reduced. Thus, we are not to make those idols.
3) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord.
Remember, in the old KJV, which we think of when we hear this commandment, it says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.” To make something vain is to empty it of meaning. And so, to take the name of the Lord in vain is to make his name mean nothing. And God’s name is who He is…so we mustn’t empty His holy name of meaning.
4) Remember the Sabbath day.
This commandment in the TC deals with our life-balance…balance between work, which God did and expect us to do, and rest, which God did and expects us to do. We are to set time aside for worship, rest, and family.
We have talked about those…today we will begin talking about the final 6 C’s, which all deal with our relationship with other people.
5) Honor your father and mother.
6) Do not murder.
7) Do not commit adultery.
8) Do not steal.
9) Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10) Do you not covet your neighbor’s house or any of his stuff.
These TC then became the foundation for God’s people…and is still that today.
But so many people look at these TC like they are some sort of dusty collection of rules that God makes us follow. And if we don’t follow them, he slaps us on the hand with a ruler. In other words, people look at these TC as evidence that God is up in heaven sitting as a cosmic killjoy…He doesn’t want people to have any fun. If you start to have fun, He will make you stop and refer you back to His rules.
But these TC are nothing like that. And this is one of the most important thoughts of the entire sermon series that I want to make sure is perfectly clear. These TC were given so that we may have life.
God was bringing His people into the PL—and He wanted them to enjoy and have a prosperous life there. And so He gives them these TC so that they may. The rules were not meant to squelch life out of them, but rather to ensure that they life was good.
We have often talked about God as a shepherd…one of David’s most famous Psalms starts, “The Lord is my shepherd…” God is our shepherd, which means we are the sheep. And if you have spent any time around sheep, you know that they are not too bright and kind of smell funny. They are dirty. And we are the same way as people.
And God, as our shepherd, has laid down a fence for us. If we remain in the fence, we have everything we need to enjoy a good life…or, as Jesus puts it, “life to the full.” We will have food to eat, water to drink, land to play and jump in, and little boy sheep will have little girl sheep to chase and little girl sheep will have little boy sheep to torment. If we stay in the fence…
However, if we decide to wander outside of the fence that God has laid down, we are not promised those things anymore. We may survive OK for awhile…but outside of the fence is desert area and cliffs we can fall off of. There may not be water or food. And there definitely are predators. So…we have the freedom to wander outside of the fence, but the life to the full is not guaranteed outside.
And what is this fence? It’s God’s word…and it’s these TC. If we will stay within the guidelines of His word and these TC, God will grant life. We can choose to wander outside, but it’s not safe there.
And so these have been given to us, not to steal life from us…but rather, to ensure life.
So, let’s turn now to those TC—and specifically TC #5…where we will spend our time today. But I want to start…with a story.
It tells of a mother who had a four year old son, and this son had a mind of his own. The boy’s name was Jeremy and Jeremy got into trouble one day at pre-school because he hit another boy in the class. Jeremy’s mother warned him that he wasn’t to hit anybody. Jeremy responded by saying, “If that kid hits me, I am going to hit him back.” Jeremy’s mother said, “If you get into trouble at school again, you are not going to be able to watch Power Rangers in the afternoons after school is out.” She knew that this would be an effective persuasion, because Jeremy loved the Power Rangers. The next morning, the mother was driving Jeremy to school and they both were in complete silence. Jeremy’s mom knew that he was thinking about something…and after a few more minutes of silence, Jeremy finally looked over at this mother and said, “Mom, I’m really gonna miss the Power Rangers tonight!”
We laugh at the nature of a 4 year old…and it is what it is…but there is something of a break down in our culture in the relationship between a parent and their children. Children are disobedient. Children are causing great harm to marriages. Children are causing great harm to their parents. Rick Atcheley, in his book “The Sinai Summit,” states that 8 million parents—PARENTS—were physically abused by their children in 1998.
And you can see this in our popular culture. Look at the television show that is on ABC (I think) called “Super Nanny.” Super Nanny comes into the homes of families where the kids are so wildly out of control that they are destroying their parents, their marriages, and their homes. And Super Nanny comes and restores order.
In the Bible book of II Timothy…in chapter 3…Paul gives us a glimpse into the terrible times of the last days. And right in the middle of it all, according to verse 2, is children’s disobedience to their parents. So…the disobedience of children is not just a phase that kids go through, or even the right that children have in spreading their wings…it is a sin against God and a signal of our culture.
And so, what does this 5th C say?
Exodus 20:12 (TNIV)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
If you will notice, this commandment is a bit different from the first ones…in that, it contains a promise.
“Honor your father and mother…(and there is the promise)…so that you may life long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
The TC are listed twice in the OT…this one we have read is found in Exodus 20. But the TC are also found in Deuteronomy 5…and in Deuteronomy 5, we have even more.
Deuteronomy 5:16 (TNIV)
16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
So the promise is…honor your father and mother…so that you may live long, and so that it may go well with you, in the land the LORD your God is giving.
What a promise…
Again, the apostle Paul picked up on this in his book of Ephesians. He says:
Ephesians 6:1-3 (TNIV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for 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 enjoy long life on the earth.”
When I read this promise in this C, I always thought to myself, “Hey, if I honor my mom and dad, I will be happy and have a good life and live a long time.” And all that is true…
But I think there may be more to that promise than that…I think that this commandment is FOUNDATIONAL to society. If children will honor their mother and father, God promises that the nation will live long in the land and that it may go well for the entire nation…not just for individuals. This commandment is a FOUNDATIONAL commandment for all of society. If the children will learn to honor and obey their parents, the nation will be strong and do well.
John Ruskin said, “The history of the world is not the record of our wars, but rather the history of our households.”
Now, since this was such a FOUNDATIONAL commandment, God established very serious punishment for those who disobeyed it.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (TNIV)
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
This sounds like such strictness compared to our culture today…because in that culture, if a parent found that they simply could not control their child, they could take them before the council of elders in the town. And the rebellious child would be stoned.
But what is interesting is that there is not one record in Jewish history, as far as I know, of this actually occurring. But what it did was give parents the authority over their children. Really, if you think about it…the first authority in life that we really encounter is our parents.
And this commandment wasn’t given so parents could LORD over their children…and the punishment wasn’t given so that children could just get rid of unruly children if they didn’t feel like putting up with them any longer.
Both, however, were given by God so that the family structure would function. The first community that God really created was the family. It is the building block of society. And as the building block of society, it needs to be a strong block. If the family block is weak, everything else becomes weak as well. Government, churches, schools, businesses, clubs, organizations, cities, towns…they all become weaker if the family block is weak as well.
And that is why so many smart people are concerned about the breakdown of the family in America. Most acknowledge that it is the number 1 problem facing our country…because the family is such a foundational element of who we are. Policemen and juvenile authorities will tell you that there is a constant struggle against gang violence and drugs in the inner city. Teachers will tell you their #1 problem in the classroom is discipline. Businesses spend time and money counseling those whose family problems interfere with their work.
In fact, Don Wilson, a preacher at a very large church says that when he is interviewing people for his staff, he always says, “Tell me about your father.” He knows that a person’s relationship with their father will explain a lot about them. And he has found that those who had poor relationships with their dads often have problems with other staff members at the church.
This commandment can be looked at a couple of ways…and we are going to do that today.
This commandment is an indirect command for parents.
This makes sense…if you think about it…the commandment is for children to honor their parents, but the parents must be honorable. It’s very hard for children to honor parents who don’t deserve honor.
As we have already hit on just a little bit, in the home is where a child first learns about authority figures. The parents are the first authority figures for a child…they are the first contact they have with love…they are the first teachers.
In fact, the Hebrew word for ‘parent’ is related to the Hebrew word for ‘teacher.’
And so, in order to help a child to honor their mother and father, the mother and the father need to teach them how to honor.
And the child will need training in honoring the mother and the father…and anyone else for that reason. See…we all have this sinful nature in us and there is rebellion in that. And so kids naturally will rebel. And so that is why parents have to teach their children to love and honor.
And this is why Paul repeats this C in his letter to the Ephesians that we have already read…let’s read it again, but let’s read on this time.
Ephesians 6:1-4 (TNIV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for 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 enjoy long life on the earth.” 4 Fathers, [b] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
It’s no coincidence that the commandment to honor your parents is immediately followed by a word to fathers, specifically…to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Now that word “training” includes both commands of the mouth…telling your child what is right, but also physical discipline. The same word is used when Paul talks about training his body to run races. To run a marathon takes great physical discipline.
Proverbs 13:24 (TNIV)
24 Those who spare the rod hate their children,
but those who love them are careful to discipline them.
Discipline shows love…but it’s hard to do. And it’s hard for your child to receive. And all of us growing up said, “I’ll never be so mean to my kids and my parents were to me growing up.” But when you are grown up, you look back and say, “Wow, I’m glad my parents loved me enough to train me in what is right.”
Parents…we are to teach our children, to train our children, in how to show honor to not only us, but to all others. Remember, our children’s interaction with us is the first of its kind for them. If they learn to show us honor, they will learn to show other authority figures, like teachers, honor as well.
We must act honorably, so that the child will show us true honor…not forced honor.
So, that’s the first facet of this commandment…that it is actually an indirect commandment to the parents.
The second facet is:
The commandment is a direct commandment to children.
I want to break this up and direct this to a couple of different groups.
The first group I want to talk to are our young people who are still living at home with their folks. This commandment instructs you to honor your parents. And there are several ways you can do that.
1) Respect their role
a. Remember, you parents are not perfect, and neither are you. But they have been given a gift. And that gift is you. The Bible tells us that parents are blessed with children and they are a gift. Their job as parents is to teach, train, and guide you.
b. Psalm 127:3-5 (TNIV)
c. 3 Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
d. In this passage, a child is likened to an arrow. And it says blessed is the man who has a quiver full of arrows…quivers are the place where you keep you arrows. And when Solomon was writing this Psalm, each arrow was made by hand. No machines to make them at the time. And because each arrow is different, it flies differently. It is the job of the archer to make sure that when he shoots each arrow, he knows which direction it will go in and thus, they can direct each properly. It’s your parents job to make sure they direct you in the right way…and it’s your job to allow them to do so.
2) You can honor your parents by obeying them the first time.
a. Don’t make them ask you again and again to do something. Follow their instruction the right way the first time.
b. I remember growing up, I felt pretty good about the fact that I listened to what my folks said and obeyed them without making them tell me over and over again what to do. And my life was easier because of it.
c. My sister, on the other hand, had a hard time learning this lesson. And life was tougher for her growing up because of it.
3) You can honor your parents by addressing them with respect.
a. Don’t call your parents names or raise your voice at them.
4) You can honor them by telling the truth.
a. Don’t lie about where you have been or what you have been doing. Don’t deceive. Don’t miss curfew.
b. Proverbs 12:22 (TNIV)
c. 22 The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
5) You can honor your parents by forgiving their failures.
a. Someday you will grow up and be a parent too…and you will understand then how hard it can be.
6) You can honor your parents by affirming their effort.
a. Proverbs 17:6 (TNIV)
b. 6 …and parents are the pride of their children.
c. Usually we think about this the other way around…that children are the pride of their parents. But this passage shows us that our parents our to be a source of pride for us too.
d. Whenever you do something well, your parents boast of you. Now, it’s your turn to boast of your parents and be proud of them.
And remember…this commandment has a promise. Remember? Let’s review:
Exodus 20:12 (TNIV)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
The promise for you is a long and prosperous life.
Now, let me speak to those of you who are children but have left the house of your parents. You still must show honor to them…you now, though, do it in a different way.
1) You can honor your parents by listening to their advice.
a. Proverbs 23:22 (TNIV)
b. 22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
c. And in Titus 2, we see that there is great wisdom found in the adults who are older than us.
d. We would do well to honor our parents, as their children, to listen to their wise words and heed them.
2) You can honor your parents by the way you live your life.
a. Proverbs 23:24 (TNIV)
b. 24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
c. The father whose child grows to be righteous brings them great joy…what better way to honor them by living a good life.
3) You can honor your parents by taking care of them when they are older and disabled.
a. Leviticus 19:32 (TNIV)
b. 32 ” ‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.