A famous quote by Mark Twain says:
IT IS BETTER TO DESERVE HONORS AND NOT HAVE THEM THAN TO HAVE THEM AND NOT TO DESERVE THEM.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word HONOR? For many of us, those we know and love in the armed forces may come to mind. For others, we might think of a judge or the term, Your Honor. Another major majority will think of their parents and the commandment, “Honor thy Father and thy Mother….” in Exodus 20:12. God thought of an honor for a mother and father important enough to make it apart of the laws He gave Moses; you know, the Ten Commandments? 🙂
And why should we honor them? As the remainder of the passage says, “…Then you will live a long, full life in the land the lord your God is giving you.” Who wouldn’t want to honor their parents; especially after reading that? But as I have been thinking more deeply about this due to some of my own personal strife; there is such a vast view of why God spoke those words for us. Honor was apart of the law that we needed to have because of the chaos that was occurring at the time of Moses. For example, Moses dealt for years with Pharoah, the plagues, doubt and disbelief, and of course leading his people to the promised land of God’s to begin again. There was a need of direction and a need for order amongst the mindset of confused and sinful people!
The law was given to Moses in such a dramatic way to bring reverence and fearful-respect to the Father to follow His ways. Otherwise I believe we wouldn’t validate or care about the rules laid before us. Why would we care? What is the end result if we didn’t follow them?
Exodus 20:18-20 NLT
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”
The powerful display by God kept the people fearful of His rath and thus respect was given to the laws. However, until Jesus came….how’d we do with obeying the laws? Did we master the Commandments? Have you the ability to say from your first acknowledgement of the 10 Commandments that you’ve NEVER coveted someone else’s things?? Never stole from someone? Never took your Lord’s name in vain?? Well….I hate to tell ya but….
We’ve ALL broken God’s commandments. All have fallen short of the glory of God! The expectation to fulfill the law God realized we were unable to do; thus this is why Jesus was given as a gift to us as our saving GRACE. No matter which commandment, we have all failed at fulfilling at least one.
As a child from a broken family and later a broken marriage of my own; many of God’s laws and promises I failed at acknowledging and obeying. However this particular commandment has always fascinated me. Honor….a word of reverence and one that says respect. I have struggles with this as many of us have with our parents. I love my parents….they are God’s hand picked parents for me here on earth and all that they have given me is designed with God’s intentions. However, sin tends to blind a person’s ability to look beyond pain to uphold a word as distinguished as HONOR. I hate the fact that I struggle to have this word frequent my lips in love and actions towards them.
For the reader that feels the same as I in the matter, let me focus on the depth of the word and how my heart has been mended by GRACE to make honor a practiced word. First off, Exodus 21:17, “Anyone who dishonors a father or mother must be put to death.” If this was still a factual practice and law today, 90% or more of the world would be dead. So, knowing that’s what scripture says, why aren’t we dead? Why does the result of disobeying the word of God, NOT result in our immediate death?….because of JESUS! So I have no reason to fear because of Jesus. Yet the question still is, how do we respect the word HONOR?
In Proverbs 21:21, “He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.” Honor is the final threshold we cross when we deny our own value and privilege the world manipulates us with and we seek the life giving righteousness of Jesus Christ! Honor is more than just a word that we are meant to live by; it is a worship to a Father who gives us something we don’t deserve. John 12:26 Jesus says, “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” The greatest example of honor to learn and to show is the honor given by the Father in heaven in His son Jesus. So I ask you, if Jesus is the standard barrier, why then does honor come so hard toward others? If we love Christ and strive to serve Him, we are honored by God himself!
What’s funny about this topic to me though is the whisper I still get in my head of my Dad saying, “You’ll understand what it’s like to be a parent someday.” That understanding has hit hard since 2006 with Angelique DiAnn running around. 🙂 Now almost 9 years old, Angel is at a stage in life that really brings a test to the word honor towards her mommy and I. Attitude, whining, rebellion….little honor seems to be shown to us, her caretakers and the ones who help to provide all she needs to her without conditions. (Paused Reflection)
Less we continue to forget that it was through God’s GRACE and LOVE for us that He gave us His one and only son….
We here on earth, Me….my parents….your parents….grandparents….etc. ALL expect to have honor given to us by our children and yet we cannot give enough HONOR to our Father in heaven first with our lives daily! Who are we to demand and act worthy of such a respect? Should we use Exodus 21:17 on our reflection of honor to God and His son Jesus?? If we do….we’re all DEAD.
I want Angelique to honor us as her parents just like our parents wanted/want us to honor them. Sin has gotten in the way of our grace given to one another to see a reason to honor fully our parents. For years I have held closely the scripture below as my defense and refuge to why I can’t or won’t honor fully my parents:
Paul was making a very valid point to Fathers and parents in general with this statement. However, he also uses it to make an even bigger point to this reader….BRING THEM UP. Bring them up, lift them up, love them up….UP to a standard that is holy and a love that is of God. I’ll be the first to admit as a parent I am not the greatest, if even in the top million, of father’s who do not provoke Angel to anger or even more importantly….LIFT HER UP…in love. We have tried our whole lives with her to bring her up in a house of the Lord. Yet, because of sin, we have continually failed at being to a level God expects of us. In this, I cannot blame my parents, as any of you shouldn’t, for the upbringing you may have gotten. Yeah, it wasn’t perfect….and yeah, it probably even at times sucked; but they did their best with the sin this world has surrounded us all in. The only difference….is where is God in all of this with them? With you?
Bring them up….in the DISCIPLINE and INSTRUCTION of the Lord. If you want to be honored, then you must honor your heavenly FATHER first. In honoring Him (Good reputation, respect, purity, integrity), you will gain the grace and love to honor and respect others back. It MUST start with Him first! So ask yourself the next time you feel you deserve honor and haven’t gotten it….”Have I honored my Savior & Father lately?”
Dad….and Mom….I’m sorry for the times I haven’t honored you as you wished I would. I am an imperfect vessel and always will be until I’m home in heaven with Jesus. I pray you’ll look past those moments of dishonor I’ve given you over the years and see the grace that only real love from the Father can give. Seek Him to honor and see how much in love He will honor you back!
Love your son,