2020-02-02 - What Does Honor Really mean?
The Fifth Commandment: Exodus Study Continued
Does honoring one’s parents mean having them move in, as it did with my grandfather? Or, is God talking about something else? Well first, we need to look at the context, to understand what is expected.
This commandment is found on the Second Table of the Law, in that its primary focus is man-directed. We must be clear that though the balance of the Ten Commandments are man-focused, disobedience to them is first God-directed. We must absolutely understand that all sin, no matter how “small,” is first against God and only second against men. We must recognize this, if we are to have a proper understanding of sin. If we want to live a holy life, separated to God’s standards and away from the world’s, we must admit the seriousness of all sin.
This commandment is given not as a negative, that is: “You shall not dishonor your father and your mother.” Some act as if this is what is said, figuring that, “If I don’t give my parents a bad time, then I’m okay.” Instead, the command is given as a positive, “Honor your father and your mother ...” We are commanded to honor our parents, again, not because they deserve it, but because they are our parents and God commands it. We obey in response to God, not the worthiness or our parents. I know I keep coming back to this point, and most of us have good parents so this isn’t a problem, but, it is vital we understand all we do is to be God motivated. We keep the commandments by loving God and others, not out of some kind of misplaced legalism.
This also means we can never be dependent on circumstances to help our obedience. We are to live in spite of conditions, not because of them. This is only possible by depending on the Holy Spirit and the realization our focus must only be on God.
Additionally, here for the first time, we find a promise that is a result of obedience, “... that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Paul also talks of this command in Ephesians 6:1-4 (NIV), which we will look at as a necessary adjunct to our understanding of how to obey this injunction, as well as the responsibly of parents to aid their children in obedience: “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."
First, though, we need a definition of honor:
“ n. 3.a. Glory or recognition; distinction. b. A mark, token, or gesture of respect or distinction: the place of honor at the table. — tr.v.“1.a. To hold in respect; esteem. b. To show respect for. 1
The word in Hebrew is “kabed,” in the imperative, that is a command. Harris says this about its usage: “Likewise persons in positions of responsibility and authority were deserving of honor (Exodus 20:12; Malachi 1:6). It is significant to remind oneself that giving honor or glory is to say that someone is deserving of respect, attention and obedience. A life which does not back up one’s honorable words is hypocrisy of a high form …” 2
We are commanded to honor our parents, not because they deserve it, but because they are our parents. Nevertheless, it is the parents’ responsibility to behave in such a manner that makes it easier for the child to be obedient.
This is similar to the injunction in Ephesians for husbands to love their wives and wives to submit to their husbands. Husbands are to love their wives even when they are unlovable. Wives are to submit even when their husbands are being a pain in the neck. Keep in mind, the bottom line is mutual submission. If husbands really love their wives, that is put them first, then the wives would have minimal problems with the issue of submission. I think you will find where each, in the Lord, is trying to carry out their responsibility it makes it a lot easier for the other to also be obedient.
So it is with parents and children. Children are to honor their parents, even if they are not deserving of it, and parents are to behave in a manner that does not intentionally provoke the children in disobedience to this command.
Let’s take a look again at what Paul says about this in Ephesians 6:1-4. It is clear that Paul considers this commandment just as applicable to the church, as it was to Israel. He wants it to be clear that while children are bound to this regardless of the behavior of the parents, the parents also have a responsibility to help them be obedient. Notice by the way he speaks to fathers, I guess that means that mothers would never provoke their kids.
It seems that this command has always created problems for those that are supposedly following it. Jesus required obedience to it in Matthew 19:17-19 (NIV),
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother …"
“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
They were looking for a way to claim obedience, while in reality totally getting our from under their responsibilities. I wonder how often this is the same thing many are guilty of today. In fact, we find Jesus going after some of the Pharisees over this very issue.
Study to be Continued
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