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Sermon - 9/20/09
Exodus 20:12
- H
onor Your Parents

Audio Sermon

Honor Your Parents

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Exodus 20:12)

We are continuing to look at the “Ten Commandments,” the Lord’s revealed will for our thoughts and actions. Today our focus is on the Fifth Commandment, also seen in Deuteronomy 5:16. We are to regard our parents with respect and love, even if it seems they may not deserve it. It may seem impossible for some to do this, but both the ability to respect others and the power to love them are gifts from the Lord. We remember Jesus on the Cross, who was being killed by the very “lost” people He came to save. How He felt about His persecutors is summed up by His statement, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). When we consider a love so deep and recognize that He brings the attributes of God into our hearts and lives, we begin to understand that we do not forgive or give respect in our own strength, but in His.

It’s astonishing to read the words of what is called the Fifth Commandment of God and then look out into today’s world culture. It is common just about everywhere for sons and daughters of any age to have very little regard for their parents. It’s been going on for a long time that young people somehow feel they know more about life than those who have gone before. Older people know regret and many would go back in time if they could try life again from a better perspective. The young have the opportunity to get it right the first time, and they are helped immensely if they listen to the mistakes and victories of those who have gone before them.

In all too many cases these days, parents can be immature and little can be gained from them. But we can learn because the failures of our parents can teach us. The young are indeed good at discovering flaws in their parents, but when such errors are found as they always are, children tend to become disgusted and reject their parents as “hypocrites.” The ability of younger people to learn from the past becomes stunted at that point and they begin to trust in no one but themselves.

My father failed to go to college, but he took night classes and became a successful aerospace engineer in charge of 500 men. I saw him study correspondence courses at night, but he seemed to be doing fine without an extensive education. He said I should study harder in school and wanted me to attend college. I did not see the relationship between education and success in life and declined his offer. I had no respect for his ideas and did not listen. The week I turned 18, I joined the Air Force without his permission and lost the opportunity he offered.

My father had an interesting career. He worked in a shipyard in the northeastern United States, but somehow also became a golf pro at the Augusta, Maine, Country Club. He went on a pro golfing tour, ending up broke in Augusta, Georgia. He had a wonderful voice and was the announcer and singer on a radio station. My mother played the piano on that station and that’s how they met and fell in love. During the Great Depression he became a barber for several years, earning enough for us to live. We then went to California and he became an engineer.

My dad was a terrific chess player and a scratch golfer. Interestingly, those are two pastimes that I have consistently avoided. He would have taught me everything about chess and golf, but I refused to learn anything he was good at. If anything, I was quicker to pick up his bad habits such as smoking cigarettes for 23-years after learning to smoke by sneaking them from packs in his dresser drawer. I have wondered, what if I had “honor(ed)” my “father andmother” instead of resisting them? I would have made mistakes anyway, but I also could have had an education and the skills that were offered. I still completed college, but it was done much later in life. The “land” as in today’s Scripture, the opportunity offered by God through my father would have been better than my choice to reject his help.

Those who grow up without parents or with a mother and/or father they cannot “honor,” are much more likely to become involved in destructive behavior. If you have a parent you can trust, listen to and can safely follow their advice, you are much less likely to become an alcoholic, drug user or a promiscuous person, actions leading to destruction. Harm done is very real and all too many valuable young people have ruined their own lives.

An increasing problem, shared by millions of people, many of them pre-teens, is a terrible activity called “cutting,” in which a person deliberately cuts, scratches, or burns themselves. These self-inflicted injuries range from cuts that heal quickly to serious wounds that leave permanent scars. It’s very common. The late Princess Diana once admitted in a television interview that she intentionally cut her arms and legs and had thrown herself down a flight of stairs more than once.

A related activity is the pulling out of eyebrows and hair. I have wondered about all the tattoos and body-piercing so popular in today’s world – is it a form of self-mutilation similar to what is called, “cutting?” Are those outward marks a sign of inward pain?

"Cutting,” as reported in places like www.essortment.com/articles/self-injury is common among a lot of younger people, numbered, it is estimated, in the millions. Many were abused or molested as children, and all too many are survivors of incest. “Cutters” often say they use self-harm to feel “calm,” to be “in-control” or just to “feel something,” anything instead of merely being emotionally numb. Those who are unable to “honor” their parents lash out, trying to find power in lives that have spun out of control.

The phrase about “Your days (being) prolonged in the land,” as it says in today’s Scripture, is much more than just physically living in Israel or surviving for a long time. This verse, Exodus 20:12, the Fifth Commandment, is about SATISFACTION in life. Whether life is long or short, everyone seems to understand that a good life is better than merely a long one. And being able to respond with a positive attitude toward the people God has placed into our lives is better than endlessly resisting them.

Paul the Apostle quoted our verse for today in Ephesians 6:1-3. It’s not only parents who are to guide, direct and love children, but children also have partial responsibility to help heal the division between the generations. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Exodus 20:12) means just what it says. We are to find wholeness, restoration and peace through forgiving and honoring our parents, but how can we do it? How do those who have been injured forgive the unforgivable? - By looking to the Lord.

And by the way, if your parents are wonderful and are everything you might have ever wanted, thank the Lord every day. And if your children are simply great, then thank your God for He is good. 1 Peter 2:17 gives us good advice in the words – “Honor everyone.” Life is better when we do.

Father, most of all we love and honor You.  We praise Your Holy Name.  Help us to love, honor and respect those You have placed in our lives.  Help us to forgive.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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