Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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Honor that is Due
Terry R. Baughman
“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 NIV).
Listed among the Ten Commandments, right before the “don’t commit murder, adultery, and theft,” is this instruction: “Honor your father and your mother.” It’s not a suggestion or a simple reminder to be kind to your elders; it’s a command! It is one of the top ten that’s engraved on everything from the doors of the Supreme Court down to novelty charms for a cheap tourist trinket. It was important enough to rank right after, no other gods, idolatry, misusing God’s name, and honoring the Sabbath.
The first four of the Commandments are concerning our relationship with God. The next six have more to do with our relationships with one another. “Honor your father and your mother” is the fifth Commandment and the first one with a promise attached. Paul noted that it is the first commandment with a conditional promise. (See Ephesians 6:1–3.) The promise was, and is, “… 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 NIV). Not only is it right and good to honor mother and father, but it is also a promise with a blessing in return.
What does it mean to honor? The simple definition is to regard with great respect, or to highly esteem. While it may be more natural to respect fathers for their leadership and authority, God commanded the same honor for both father and mother. There will always be times of disagreement or debate, even in the best of homes. Challenges will come and the opportunity for disrespect and the absence of honor toward the parents. We will do well to remember that God’s commandments are greater than our sense of injustice or our injured pride in times of conflict.
Mothers are typically the more nurturing of the parents. It is often the mom to which a child will run for sympathy, comfort, or emotional support. That’s not to say that fathers do not have these qualities, but mothers characteristically have a unique bond that springs from their birth connection.
The opposite of honor is to dishonor, to disrespect, or to denigrate. Anytime a child shows disrespect toward their parents, God takes notice. Left unchecked, these adverse attitudes will erode their relationships and negate the promise that is contained in God’s Word. His word is true, His commandments are to be taken seriously, and His promises are sure. However, the consequences of a failure to follow God’s direction will also have a conditional promise. Blessings are promised to those who obey, but judgment will come to those who disregard God’s Word and reject His commands.
For most of us it is a privilege to honor our mothers, but for those who were not so blessed with a caring mother, it becomes more of a challenge to fulfill this commandment. It is always right to regard those who gave us life and know that God does not make mistakes. We are here on purpose and God has a plan for every life. For that reason we can always honor the life we have been given and the person who gave us birth.
“Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:7-8 NIV)