Honor Your Father and Mother

The Ten Commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods before me
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol
  3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not kill/murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not bear false witness
  10. You shall not covet

The Fifth Commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 (NKJV)

What does it mean to “honor?”

I looked up Deuteronomy 5:16 in the Hebrew to see what the word “honor” actually means. According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word translated as “honor” in Deuteronomy 5:16 is כָּבַד (kabad or kabed), which literally means “to be heavy, weighty, or burdensome.” I did a little more digging, and found this explanation on BibleStudyTools.com:

The root of kabod [כָּבַד] literally means heavy or weighty. The figurative meaning, however, is far more common: “to give weight to someone.” To honor someone, then, is to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and even authority in one’s life. A person grants honor most frequently on the basis of position, status, or wealth, but it can and should also be granted on the basis of character.

The command to honor our parents means, then, to give weight to their authority over us, and to show them respect.

Some have argued that the Fifth Commandment means that we are to obey everything our parents tell us to do. However, this is not what the word כָּבַד means. As children, we must obey our parents, but as we reach maturity, we are commanded to give weight to their authority, but not necessarily to blindly obey. If your parents are godly and faithful followers of Jesus Christ, then the wisdom they have in Christ and the experience they have in knowing you should be very carefully and weightily considered. Many Christians, however, have parents who do not know the Lord, or do not honor Him. Although we are still to give weight to what they tell us, if it conflicts with the Bible, we should absolutely not do what they say. We still must show them respect and honor, however.

Why should we honor parents?

My Mom and Dad, 2003

My Mom and Dad, 2003

Deuteronomy 5:16 says to honor your parents so “that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Some skeptics have claimed that since this verse promises that everyone who honors their parents is guaranteed a long life and that all will “be well,” the Bible is obviously contradictory. Some people who honor their parents die at a young age.

However, there are many instances where the Bible speaks in terms of generalizations—things that are usually, but not always, true. Deuteronomy 5:16 is an example. The book of Proverbs contains many such generalizations. It is not a contradiction to have some instances where the general rule does not apply. When someone claims Deuteronomy 5:16 contains a contradiction, they are committing the fallacy of a sweeping generalization—applying a general principle as if it were a universal rule. Deuteronomy 5:16 is not intended to be taken as a universal rule, but rather as general principle that is true most of the time.

In most cases, our parents are a lot more wise than we like to admit. If they are godly parents, they have experiences and years of wisdom from the Lord that we have yet to gain. Generally speaking, if we follow the advice of godly parents, we will tend to live longer, happier lives.

Another reason to honor our parents is found in Colossians 3:20: “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” It pleases God when we honor our parents. God appointed them to be our parents, and gave them authority as our parents. Whether they have been godly parents, or horrible parents, it pleases God when we show our parents the honor they are due, simply because they are our parents.

The bottom line

I haven’t always honored my parents as I should. Especially as a teen, I dishonored my parents greatly. I gave very little weight to their position or authority. As I’ve grown older, especially after I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, this has changed considerably. I also have a whole lot more respect for my parents, now that I’m a parent.

As a parent, I haven’t always deserved my children’s honor. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and have let my kids down far too many times.

However, the command to honor my parents is still wise advice from my Father in Heaven. He used my parents to help shape me into the person I’ve become, and is using me to shape my children into the young adults they are becoming, despite my shortcomings and sin.

If you have not been honoring your father and mother, maybe because they’ve hurt you, or simply because of your own sin, please consider the words of Deuteronomy 5:16 very carefully. God wants us to honor our parents, not because they deserve it, but because it pleases Him when we do. We all need to forgive our parents for the wrongs they have done to us, and honor them despite their shortcomings, no matter how severe. It’s not always easy to do, and for many people, may take a lot of time and healing, but it’s the right thing to do, as God has commanded.

Live Long and Prosper

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Remember the Sabbath

The Ten Commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods before me
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol
  3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not kill/murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not bear false witness
  10. You shall not covet

The Fourth Commandment says:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11

moses-tenI started this series on the Ten Commandments some time ago. I sort of got “stuck” when I got to this one. I know what I believe, but, quite honestly, I have a difficult time backing up my beliefs on this issue with solid Biblical reasoning.

Unlike with the other 9 of the 10 Commandments, the New Testament is strangely silent on the necessity of keeping the Sabbath. With the exception of keeping the Sabbath, all of the commandments are retaught, and in most cases, expanded upon in the New Testament. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”

Here, Jesus not only confirms the Sixth Commandment, He expands it to include unjustified anger. The same is true throughout the New Testament with all of the Commandments – except the commandment to keep the Sabbath.

The New Testament records that Jesus kept the Sabbath, but not as the scribes and Pharisees said it should be kept. Jesus “worked” on the Sabbath – He picked grain and healed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-12). Jesus attended synagogue on the Sabbath, as did His disciples. After the resurrection, Jewish followers, including Peter and Paul, continued to worship on the Sabbath. However, non-Jewish Christians apparently did not. I can find no place in the New Testament where worshipping on the Sabbath is either required or denounced. Historically, the practice of worshipping on the Sabbath (Saturday) was slowly replaced with worship on Sunday by most churches. Again, I can find no place in Scripture that either requires Sunday worship, or denounces it. While the New Testament repeatedly teaches that Christ’s followers are to meet regularly for worship, it appears to be silent regarding which day of the week Christians should set aside for the practice.

In light of the absence of New Testament teaching requiring worship on a specific day of the week, I believe it is entirely up to the discretion of the church and the individual Christian.

There is considerable disagreement within the church regarding the Fourth Commandment.

Some churches are adamant about only worshipping on the Sabbath, and while I disagree, that’s fine. Most churches worship on Sunday, and again, that’s fine, too. An increasing number of churches now offer worship services on other days of the week, allowing folks that are required to work on weekends the opportunity for corporate worship. Again, I think that’s fine.

I’ve read a number of arguments that the Sabbath is still to be followed by Christians, and that Sunday worship is a pagan heresy. However, I’ve yet to find any that can justify this belief with solid Biblical exegesis. Every argument I’ve seen commits exegetical mistakes, makes unsubstantiated historical claims, and/or contains other logical fallacies. The same can be said for those arguments I’ve seen positing Sunday-only worship.

The key, as I see it, is that all Christ-followers are to set aside time regularly for corporate worship with other believers. We are to regularly meet with others for the teaching of God’s Word. We are no longer under the letter of the Law; we are under a New Covenant. However, we are still to follow the spirit of the Law. The Fourth Commandment says to set aside one day out of every week for worship and rest. The New Testament is silent regarding which day should be set aside, so I believe it is up to each one of us to determine with God’s leading which day to set aside. As the writer of Hebrews states,

“… let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25.

Worship