Q. What is God’s will for you in the fifth commandment?
A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I submit myself with proper obedience to all their good teaching and discipline (1); and also that I be patient with their failings (2) for through them God chooses to rule us (3).
Read: (1) Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 5:21-22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18- 4:1; (2) Prov. 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet. 2:18; (3) Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21.
Whenever I have to discipline my kids, the first thing I do is ask them if I love them or hate them and if I want the best for them or the worst for them. Why do I do this? Because one cannot honor someone if internally there is not an attitude of respect and trust. Honoring does not only mean the action of being respectful, it is also the internal attitude of thinking of someone in a respectful way. So for my kids to understand the consequences of their actions as something good, they must remember that I love them and that I want the best for them so they can trust me so that they can honor me, even when they are angry or sad about the discipline I am about to impart, particularly when their favorite toy is put in time out! But what happens when our parents are not deserving of honor? Let’s study The Heidelberg Catechism q 103 to find out more about this.
We established that honor is first an internal attitude that develops into action. “As a man thinks so he is” (Proverbs 23:6-8). Although this proverb is talking about avoiding taking food when a person is showing that he is hospitable but his heart is not really in welcoming; it is also applicable to this because if it shows that you can be doing something outwardly in a deceitful way when your heart is begrudgingly doing it. Note: this proverb is NOT a positive thinking, health-wealth-prosperity gospel, The Secret mumble jumble “think and it will come to you” verse. It simply talks about being hospitable with a begrudging heart or external actions can be done in a deceitful way. This is important because we try to change outwardly but “God looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). What we think impacts how we act and honor has to come from the heart.
Now if the father and mother are deserving of honor, it is easy to honor them because we trust and respect them; we think highly of them. But what happens when our parents are abusive? Well, if you fear for your life, if you are threatened, you can call the authorities about this. God has placed authorities in place for our protection. However, God still calls you to honor your father and your mother. This certainly does not mean imitating them if they are ungodly (Ez. 20:18-19, Acts 5:29). It parents commands contradict God’s Word, we must obey God and not our parents. However, you are still to honor them. And here the question is really hard because you face God. Do you trust God enough to honor your abusive parents? Will you serve them, be patient and longsuffering with them, pray for them and love them even when they may not deserve it? Is God’s Word your authority and will you therefore submit to it?
Sister, Christianity is not an intellectual activity we engage it but rather a transforming God that puts our faith into action and that is hard…but it is also good…so very good.
So today, whether your father and mother are awesome or they are ungodly and lost, I want to ask you something. Will you honor them because God is telling you to trust Him? Or will you hold grudges for things that you dislike or don’t agree with? Remember, honoring starts in the heart.
In the straight and narrow.