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
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. – Deuteronomy 5:16
A while ago, it was impressed upon me that I needed to dig in again to God’s word. I was thinking I remembered and knew everything I needed to know… but the state of my heart and the things that were coming out of me, God was using to tell me otherwise. I felt like a baby again, so I wanted to start somewhere I “knew”. I decided to go through and start reading the red letters… Jesus’ words. Since I claim to follow Him, I should know all that He says pretty well! It was deeply soothing to read and listen to Jesus again and it filled an emptiness in me I’d been desperate to fill. All that I was reading was convicting and compelling, I wanted to REALLY know Him and be like Him again!
I was riding in the car one day, just me and my parents… and I was reading in my bible. I came to this passage in Matthew that I hadn’t really paid much attention to because it didn’t stand out, it was stuff I’d read before and it was familiar – so I guess I didn’t really soak it in until I’d really been reading just the red letters. It’s Matthew 15:3-9 and it mentions the verse I referenced at the top:
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”‘
This hit me so deep! The reason it hit me deeply is because of how I have “thought” I should live my life. My American culture, society and this generation thrive on self-consumerism and rebellion. We’re taught to ‘go live our lives’ and ‘be independent’ to the point of dishonoring our parents.
I’ve heard ridiculous excuses and justifications by Christian children. Sarcastic question of “What does honor even mean?” to back up their point so that they can do whatever they want and make the excuse that what they’re doing is not dishonoring of their parents just because they’re focused on “their own lives”. That’s where Jesus words penetrated my heart… and I believe I’m understanding the verse correctly: “But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it.” – this means that any excuse that we Christian children have of, ‘I’m devoting my life to God and living for Him!’ and we do not help or honor our parents on the other end… we’re simply contradictory and nullifying the word of God for the sake of OURSELVES (traditions of society, human standard, i-me i-me) just like the hypocrite pharisee’s of Jesus’ day. This means we are being disobedient to God, if you want to get real and honest. ‘Honor your father and mother’ is #5 in the top ten commandments.
Honor, yes, means to regard with high respect. Break down the definition some more and you’ll find that “regard” means to consider or think of (someone or something)… “respect” means to admire deeply. To honor your father and mother then, by just the verbal definition, means that you are to consider them with deep admiration. Right? Okay, but how does one then honor their father and mother in action? I’m still daily trying to do this, so I don’t have a perfect formula solution for you…
But I do like this verse:
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. – Romans 12:10-11
If your father or mother are hurting or in need, this may mean setting aside your LIFE, your i-wannas, your-self to honor them. To serve the Lord, by serving them. If you’re going about your “own life”, this may mean honoring them by seeking their wisdom, listening to them, respecting where they have been and what they have to say – and not thinking you know exactly what you’re doing. Honoring someone, to me, is putting them above myself and above my life. I haven’t seen it anywhere in God’s word yet that I’m supposed to move on with my life without honoring my father and mother. And since I haven’t seen that, I’m sticking with this 5th commandment. My peers, culture, society, friends, and other family members may see me as foolish for not pursuing things for mySELF. I may look foolish to the world, but I don’t live by this human standard or the world’s – I just want to be abandoned and fully devoted to my Jesus and God’s standard/authority for the life He’s given me. I cannot say that I’m living my life devoted to God and to the calling He’s placed on my life, and dishonor my parents in the process – it just doesn’t work that way.