Among American Gods: Honor Your Mother and Father


For Meditation

This week our focus on the fifth commandment, “Honor Your Father and Mother” will demonstrate that this commandment is like an overall summary for the entire second group of commandments.  These commandments relate to all our human relationships.  Historically, the command to “honor Father and Mother” has been understood to cover every relationship, not only parents. It speaks to how we relate to our superiors - parents, supervisors, teachers, and governing authorities - but also to those who are our equals and our subordinates. The next 5 commandments serve to further describe this command in specific relationships in their various aspects.

Jesus and the New Testament writers take this commandment as the framework for all the different relationships that we have. It is a fascinating study to review all of the messages of Jesus related to family. Jesus says that he came not to bring peace but division (Luke 12:49ff, Mt 10:34ff); that those who do not hate father, mother, wife, children, brother, sister, even their own self cannot be his disciple (Luke 14:25); that His brothers and sisters are his followers (Luke 8:19ff, Mark 3:31-35). Rather than being anti-family, Jesus was about us getting the correct priority in our lives. Our relationship with God himself is foundational. Once our life is anchored in a primary, dependent, and loving relationship with God Himself, all other human relationships will be take their proper shape.

Paul uses the framework of “honor” from the fifth commandment to shape his set of commands for the full array of human relationships.  In Ephesians 5 and 6, believers are to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Subjection or submission to one another flow from our submission to Jesus as Lord and Savior.  We need him. We listen to his Word and follow his wise direction for our lives. He has placed other believers in our lives to help us follow him. They are his tools, whether they are younger or older, in a role of leadership over us or a follower under us. We are to honor them - listen to their counsel, advice and correction because God may be sending His message through them.  Then the same pattern follows in other relationships – husbands and wives, children and parents, slaves and masters (bosses and workers). Read over these passages and watch for the pattern of the fifth commandment to call to honor as the framework for Jesus’ and Paul’s thinking and teaching.

This Sunday, we will explore how we show honor when those we are called to honor are erring sinners. How can we honor while correcting that which is broken and wrong in each other, especially when we are broken sinners too? We need God’s gracious solution in Christ to enable us to keep this command to honor parents and others he has placed in our lives. Let’s pray in advance for God’s help in learning to receive his purpose and power so that we can show honor in all our relationships and see God’s healing, restorative work advance.

Our weekly worship guide can be found here once finalized. 

Exodus 20:12

 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you".

Ephesians 5:21-22; 6:1-9 

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

6 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, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.