As part of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:12, God says, “Honour your father and mother …”
It’s right and good for us to do this, and not just on special occasions like Father’s Day. However, there will be many people who don’t have a great relationship with their dad; perhaps because they were mentally and emotionally beat-down by their dad, or physically beaten, even sexually abused, abandoned, neglected, having no relationship at all.
Their instant reaction might be: “How do you honour someone who doesn’t deserve it? Why would I even consider that?”
That question isn’t just in relation to a potentially poor father, but for all of us. Think of the times when someone who was meant to care for you, protect, provide for, encourage, build you up – someone you should have been able to look up to – but instead they let you down, disappointed you, hurt you, leaving you broken, angry, and raw.
This is a question that is relevant for all of us: How do you honour someone whom you feel doesn’t deserve it, and why?
The short answer is: God tells us for our own good, for our own life and benefit.Read: Exodus 20:1-18, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:2Some things to note:
• God begins by saying (v.2): “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of … slavery.”
• The Ten Commandments are divided into two parts – commands one to four are about honouring God; five to ten are about honouring people.
• The fifth command (v.12), “Honour your father and your mother …” comes with a promise: “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”1. Learn to honour by honouring GodConsider:
• The Ten Commandments are about honouring God first (1-4) and then honouring people (5-10).
• Jesus says: “Love God … Love your neighbour … All the Law hang on these two” (Mt 22:37-40).
• We don’t have anything good to give unless we go to God first.2. To honour means ‘Magnify the Good’Consider:
• To magnify doesn’t change the person or thing you’re looking at – it certainly doesn’t change God when we magnify Him!
• But it does change you … your perspective, focus, experience e.g. magnifying snow, sand, or spider/silk glands
• “You may even begin to see amazing things that were always there; you just couldn’t see them before.”3. Start in your heart, with those closest to you, with just one thing, nowConsider:
• Attitude leaks, what’s in your heart will always eventually come out (Matt 12:34-35; Luke 6:45). God wants to deal with your heart.
• In the Ten Commandments, of the six commands about honouring people, we see a progression from honouring parents to neighbours to the neighbour’s people. Start with your family, and move outward.
• If you struggle to find something to genuinely honour and magnify in someone, have you asked the Lord how He sees that other person?
• For those who trust in Jesus, we will all be together in Heaven forever; this can’t be avoided, we might as well learn to honour and love one another now.4. Speak it out to God, to yourself, to others, to that personConsider:
• To agree with God, and speaking that out, is called CONFESSION.
• The devil wants to twist God’s truth and lie to you. We need to regularly remind ourselves of what God has said, what He has shown us.
• To gossip and slander is human (and sinful). To build up, restore, honour, redeem is to be like God; and that’s what God is wanting to do.
• What we say has power (Proverbs 18:21, cf. James 3:9-10) … choose to honour instead of repeating the negative.
As Christians, we have this incredible privilege to hear God’s voice through His Word and His Spirit, to know and experience the heart of God for us and for others, to be His Body (His hands, feet, mouth piece in this world) … to speak forth His Truth.
God has given you something good and true to call out in others – not least of all that they are loved and precious, so much so that Jesus died for them. Give it away; God will use it; His Word never returns void. His Word is powerful. It was powerful enough to create the universe and bring about life. His Word and His Truth are still powerful to bring new life to you and to others.Discussion Questions
1. Have you ever experienced a time when you found it a struggle to honour someone? Why?
2. How did you manage to work through that (or those) situation(s)?
3. Verse 2 is effectively a summary of Exodus chapters 1-19. Skim through those chapters; what are some of the things God did for the Israelites in rescuing them and bringing them to this point?
4. As a follower of Jesus, how has God rescued you from slavery? How has He already been good to you?
5. How do you feel – mentally, emotionally, behaviourally, physically – when under stress because someone has hurt you?
6. As you read Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:2, are you convinced that God is saying “to honour is for your own life and benefit”? If so, how can we do this difficult thing?