A Matter of Honor


n a culture where it is easy to dishonor what God honors and to be entertained by what He condemns, we must take a fresh look at the Ten Commandments. The times demand it and our future depends on it.

The fifth commandment states clearly and succinctly, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12 NLT).

The Hebrew word translated honor comes from a root word meaning “weighty.” It implies an attitude of placing value and the weight of importance on one’s father and mother—regarding them as ordained by God and truly significant in one’s life.

This is more than a mere suggestion; it is a command. God gives a wonderful promise—a long and full life in a God-given land—to those who obey it.

In a court of law, some people “plead the fifth [amendment]” when they do not want to respond to the queries of the prosecution. We in the church need to “plead the fifth [commandment]” by
defending this timeless law, teaching our children to lead a life of honor toward their parents.

This commandment does not say children are to honor their father and mother until they turn 18, and then they are free of any responsibility. Honor is commanded for a lifetime. It is the heartbeat of God for the family. But is this doable?

The ideal is that the child will never shame his or her parents, never bring them any heartache, and never display any anger toward them. However, the reality is not always so pristine.

What about when parents do not exemplify lives deserving of honor? It goes back to the vertical relationship with God expressed in the first four commandments. When that relationship is intact, our horizontal relationship with others, specifically our parents, becomes easier.

While sons and daughters whose parents honor God will probably find it easier to keep the fifth commandment, realize that honor does not always mean to agree. It means a submission and level of respect countering a culture that is more about the “I” and the “me” than the “we” and the “us.”

The apostle Paul reiterated this case for honor in Ephesians 6:1-3:

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” . . . If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth” (NLT).

Obedience is a result of belonging to the Lord and heeding spiritual authority as the right thing to do. Obedience is the fruit of honor. It produces a harvest of favor and longevity. God always honors those who honor Him and that which He loves.

Conversely, disobedience is the fruit of dishonor. If we fail in life, it could be because we choose a life of dishonor. It is impossible for God to simply overlook the breaking of this commandment by those thinking it is irrelevant and unnecessary. The heart of honor is willing to protect, care for, yield, submit, listen, and learn. One preacher said, “Honor is a seed that will outlast a lifetime.”

Thankfully, my sister and I had parents who loved the Lord. It was an exciting adventure to be the daughter of Garland and Louise Mann. They taught this scripture for what it is—a commandment, not a suggestion. They were clear. If we obeyed, there would be privileges. If we disobeyed, there would be consequences in this life and in the one to come.

I am chuckling now as I write about our parents’ instructional techniques for this text. There are times when I am teaching my daughter about this same verse that it seems I am opening my mouth but my parents’ words are coming out!

Today I plead the case for the fifth. Love it. Live it. Lavish honor on your parents and enjoy the journey. It is God’s plan.