Exodus 20:12


We are in a series on the family and talking about some rules that should define us. Today we are looking honor, and specifically honoring parents. Honor is not something taught much today. It may appear in an occasional lesson, but very few organizations have it as a value. It is certainly less common than words like authentic and bold. It seems there may very well be a correlation to one value at the expense of other values. People who have noticed this decline and wondered why. 

Anybody here cry at movies? I’m not a crier. My wife does enough for the both of us. I remember when we were engaged and watching and movie, and I thought it was one of the dumbest scenes ever, and I turned to her and she was balling. 

But I remember last year getting choked up at a movie. It was Top Gun. And it wasn’t Maverick it was the original. Me and Isaac went and watched Maverick and thoroughly enjoyed it. We so enjoyed it that I went back to watch the original. It was about ordinary guys, not superheroes, but there was also a sense that they were striving for something noble and honorable. I remember this feeling that you don't hear about that much any more. 

People want to live for something honorable. They want to be known as being worthy of honor. There is a deep longing for that. But the path to get there is greatly confused. Historically, honor served as a guiding principle dictating community behavior and social interactions. It was less about the individual and more about the collective esteem of the family or group, reflecting values like bravery, virtue, and loyalty. For organizations to exist there has to be something that holds them together, and honor is one of these. Today honor is out the door for more individualistic and self focused values. 

Some connect the decline of the west with the decline of honor. There is good reason people have wanted ten commandments posted in various sectors of society, one may be the restoration of important commands like, Honor your father and mother. 

So we are in a passage in which we are told to honor others, we are told to honor our parents. Honor is to be a part of our families. We are to teach it and talk about it. Honor is to be a part of society. 

  • What does it mean to honor your parents?

In English the word honor means a high respect, respect or recognition, as that shown for special merit. 

In the Hebrew language it is a bit fuller. Honor is the verbal form of the word usually translated as holy. The word has the sense of something that is weighty. Honor is used of God, referring to his greatness and separateness. It means he is weighty and when it refers to God it is in an absolute sense. It is the word the Old Testament uses for the glory of God, for the weightiness of his divine majesty. 

To honor one’s parents, therefore, is to give due weight to their position. It is to give them the recognition they deserve for their God-given authority. To honor is to respect, esteem, value, and prize fathers and mothers as gifts from God.

The opposite of honor is dishonor. Just as the fifth commandment requires respect for parents, so it forbids showing them any disrespect. If parents are weighty, then they should not be treated lightly, as if the fifth commandment doesn’t even matter. Sadly, rebelling against parents has become a common sin. Philip Graham Ryken and R. Kent Hughes, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 603.

One who dishonored their parents in danger of being put to death (Lev 20:9), in some cases by stoning (Deut 21:18–21). Thus, respect for parents, and for authority figures in general, should be taken seriously.

Here it is used in how to treat mother and father. This is clearly connected to parents. They are the ones God has appointed to take care of us when we can not take care of ourselves. They have a special place in our lives and we are to give them special recognition for their role. 

We have a debt to our parents that will never go away. They stand over us. It isn't honor parents until you are 13 or 30. You are called to honor them and the place God has given them in your life. 

We should also note that parents have a right to expect honor from their kids. There is something of the nature of things. They created us, raised us, provided for us, and so much more. But there is also a sense that because God’s word says so they should also expect to be honored. 

The first four commandments have to do with loving God. The next commandment is with loving neighbor. The first of these is how to treat our parents. It is a basic building block to how we are to live and function, it could be said that society is dependent on this. 

People have also used this verse to speak about honoring not just parents but other figures in society. Historically this has been used to connect to other facets of a society and those who are in power. How people treat their parents and see their place in their lives also affects how they see other parts of society at large. 

Authorities. Tim Keller says, “it’s respect for parents that is the basis for every other kind of respect and every other kind of authority.” 

"You are to rise in the presence of the elderly and honor the old. Fear your God; I am the LORD. (Lev 19:32 CSB)

David was the anointed king of Israel, but the current king of Israel was Saul, and Saul was trying to kill David. Throughout that time David would not lift his hand against Saul or speak poorly of him. He trusted God and even when he had the opportunity to kill Saul he did not do it. 

I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, (Philippians 2:28-29 ESV)

Let me give you a few ways to honor people. 

  • Actions and Attitude. 

We honor others with our actions. We show that their preferences and commands have a weight. Ignoring people is a great sign of disrespect. 

[Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise). Ephesians 6:1-2

Don't vandalize the statue. You do that and have dishonored it. Actions clearly show that. We can honor people with our actions. Mom wants us home by dark, well you should honor her request. 

When you are young obeying in actions is important. Your parents are over you and you simply need to obey them. Parents, when your kids are young they should do this. And there is a sense in which you teach them the importance of this. Don’t be afraid to teach your kids right and wrong. And remember, you are helping your kids see the place of authority in their lives. I am one under authority. There are things I have to do and things I cannot do. I need to trust God with that. 

We also honor with our attitude. Attitude is important. Eye rolling, lip smacking, foot-stompin, and murmuring outloud or to yourself are in this category!

Doing the right thing with the wrong attitude will get you nowhere. As you grow up this becomes more important. 

Teens, you are in a season where you are certainly not a kid, but you also are not yet an adult. You have not made enough mistakes and experienced enough disappointments. Remember that, when you are sad, crying, heartbroken, you are becoming an adult. Your parents goal is to raise you to be self sufficient individuals who are walking before the Lord with their own volition and conviction. As you get older you won’t get their permission for everything you do, but you should seek to honor them, and one is your disposition. 

You honor your parents with you attitude and action. You won't agree with everything. Trust them. Honor them. Trust the Lord. 

Kids, honor your parents. One day you will be the parent, the one in authority, and you are going to have to deal with kids who are not honoring you and giving you the honor you desire. 

Parents, live honorably. Yes, your kids should honor simply because you are their parent. If you want to put your kids in a hard spot, demand they honor you and act dishonorably. That's hard. Honor your parents because of their role in your life. Parents seek to live honorably in the Lord. You set an example for them. Want your kids to honor you but you don't honor your parents? 

Live honorably even when your honor is disgraced. 

[But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 ESV)

One thing I have learned with parenting teens, the way you handle dishonor, and setbacks, sets the tone for how they will respond to adversity in life. One of the kids explodes in a tirade of words and anger that they can't figure out where it came from, and then to realize that's how they have seen or interpreted the actions of their parents. You will see your own faults interpreted and reflected through the eyes of a teen. 

  • Honor in How you speak of them. 

How we speak of someone is so important. The musical Hamilton that rose to fame in 2015 tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, who dies from wounds suffered in a duel. The reason for the duel was honor. Hamilton had spoken poorly of rival Aaron Burr at a dinner party, and in order to defend his honor he challenged Hamilton to a duel. The two exchanged letters but could not agree, and so a duel was set. 

[Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

[There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov 12:18

The call to honor parents is related to others passage that direct us to use our words wisely and appropriately. 

Honor them even when angry. Diffuse situations. 

[James 1:19-20. Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

It takes a wise and honorable person to take dishonor, not react in kind and pave a better path forward. You have to trust the Lord and do the right thing. Don’t believe that getting angry and mad is going to produce the fruit of honor that you want. 

There are times to use words and emotion to get someone's attention. Parents you will need to do this. But here is my conclusion on the matter. It is needed far less than you think it is. Persistence and respectful dialogue is far more effective, particularly in the teen years. Young kids don't reason as much and they simply need to see they are to obey. Explain things to them. But a foundation of respectful obedience allows 

Another place to honor: Jokes and Sarcasm. Last week I made a comment about how Amanda has been so helpful in my growth and sanctification, and while I am grateful for that sometimes my flesh doesnt like it, and sometimes I want to be like “quiet woman.” I realize that may come across as disrespectful. Now we learned not to take ourselves too seriously, and we have a lot of fun with each other. When we are having a playful disagreement I will refer to her as “woman.” And she responds in like by referring to me as “dude.” Woman, stop asking to go shopping. Dude, there is a sale that will save you money. 

We need to make sure our jokes don’t tear people down. My gift of sarcasm flows through our household. Tell our kids all the time, if all you do is make fun of people the jokes will run dry. People can laugh when they know you care about them. They can tell it is a joke. Jokes become not funny when it feels like there is more truth in them. 

There is freedom to be sarcastic or not. Some may enjoy it and some may not. But you are not to destroy others with your freedom. You are not to hinder them. You want to build them up. That is a nonnegotiable. 

Sometimes jokes that bite are a passive aggressive way to get someone to change. I don't like the way you nag me, but I'm afraid to bring it up with you, so I am going to make demeaning jokes about you. Often produce jokes that are not funny. Don't skate around issues. TAlk about them. Work through them. Love the other person. Speaking well of them helps people know when you are really joking.  

I have a gift of sarcasm and my family follows in my footsteps. We have to remind each other. Let's not tear down. If others can’t enjoy it then the joke isn't worth sharing. One of the ways to help others laugh, is to make sure they know you care for them. Amanda and I have a fair amount of back and forth. I think and hope, that one of the things that helps her to laugh is to know she is loved and respected. 


  • Honor Parents by Forgiving Them.

The people you are closest to you will sin against the most. They will see you at your best and worst and vice versa. 

You will grow up and begin to realize things. Your parents were growing up as they were raising you. Parenting stretches you in ways you never thought. Things come faster than you ever imagined. When you are not regularly filling your tank with God’s word and wisdom, people get into places that hurt. It happens. And its like a back seat driver. You think you know how to do everything until you do it. 

Your parents are not perfect. They will disappoint you. Even hurt you. Make poor decisions. 

You can honor them by forgiving them. 

I was reflecting on this. A lot of my rebellion as a young teen had to do with not knowing how to deal with things my family went through, and feeling like people had wronged me. I was mad, angry, and confused. I had to forgive. 

Oftentimes a resistance to speak well of someone means that you have not forgiven them. You are not ready to let something go. You don't want to honor them, you want to hurt them. It is bitterness in your heart. It is resting in the weakness, shortcomings, mistakes and sins of your parents. God is bigger than all of those. 

There is always something to find wrong with people. Sometimes you need to be more aware of God’s grace in a person’s life than their failings. This cultivates an attitude of gratefulness and thanks. Sometimes we have to choose to forgive and move on from our hurts. This is grace. 

It's true of people. It's true of organizations and institutions. Institutions have at best imperfect people, sometimes there are people doing evil. We have to sort and sift. What are we thankful about that and where do we need to cut the cancer. 

Building a house of cards takes a lot of care, precision, and a lot of patience. And it can be torn down very quickly. The same is true of relationships and words. Use words carefully, precisely, patiently. 

  • Seek Your Parents Wisdom. 

Scripture encourages us to live humbly, to not assume we know everything, to recognize we have blind spots and need community. We are to see the wisdom of others. One proverb that functions as a rule for life is:

Without counsel plans fail,  but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22.

Make plans in life. Have plans that others can interact with. When I am working on things I like to get my thoughts on paper so that others can interact with them. PLans for the launch of next year. Get things on paper, dates, strategies, and let others to look at it. The best ideas will rise to the top. Have a team of people that will help make your good ideas great.

Your parents should be some key advisers for you. No one knows you better than them. No one cares for you more than them. Asking them for wisdom benefits you. It honors them. It allows them to have a place in your life. Shutting them off from such things is shutting them out of your life. Seek their advice.

You may have parents that don't share your faith and convictions. You can still ask them for advice. As you get older they are advisers. They have less direct managers and more advisers. You don't have to do what they say. You can share why you heard their advice and decided to do something different. I have done that. But their advice will certainly shape what I do, and they respect hearing a substantive reason for doing something other than what they advised.  

Conclusion: It is wise to do this. It is wise to honor your parents. It takes humility. It is wise to submit to the Lord. It is wise to honor him. It takes humility to put God in his place, and to say I'm going to honor your commands, and I am going to live life for how you called me to live. 

We realize real quick just how much we go against his commands and how selfish we can be. 

Honoring the Lord is the first part of honoring parents and others. We realize we don't know all things, and that we don't do all things well. We need help. We have dishonored God by dishonoring others, and we will likely feel shame for that. This is why Jesus died for us. He perfectly obeyed his Father, even to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. God honored him and raised him to a new life. He now becomes an example but even more, our Lord. We submit to him as king. We honor him. But you have to repent. You stop living the way you were living. 

Top Gun, they have a higher calling, but they wrestle with living up to that calling. Even dealing with the failings of parents. We have the highest, most sacred calling there is, which is to live for the king of kings, to live for him with every breath that we have. Let him have his way in us, and for us to honor him.