Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:00 pm
The Messenger, September 27, 2012
Godly children honor our Lord
By RICHARD M. SMITH
Special to The Messenger
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (ESV)
This week we look at the fifth Commandment and at question 104 from the Heidelberg Catechism. Question 104 asks: What is God’s will for you in the fifth commandment? Answer: That I honor, love and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I obey and submit to them as is proper, when they correct and punish me; and also that I be patient with their failings — for through them God chooses to rule us.
The first four of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:3-11), commonly called the first table, comprise our duties to God; the other six, called the second table (Ex. 20:12-17), comprise our duties to ourselves and our fellow man. Christ interpreted these as dealing with the things of the heart as well as the lips (Matthew 5:17). In his “Commentary on Exodus,” Matthew Henry points out that man had a Maker to love before he had a neighbor to love, thus he cannot be expected to be true to his brother if he is false to his God.
As we look at the fifth Commandment to honor parents, we find it is much broader in its meaning than appears at first glance, and that it contains a promise as well as a command. The commandment is not just restricted to our literal father and mother. In scripture the word “honor” has an extensive application, as may be seen from I Timothy 5:17, I Peter 2:17 and other passages.
God, in this commandment, begins with parental authority that He established in the family unit (rather than any other authority), and He requires that the father and mother be honored. There are reasons for this. To begin with, the paternal power and government was the first that was established among men. Second, from this came the rule and pattern according to which all other forms of government should be formed and exercised. Third, this form of government is the most agreeable to mankind, so they should readily submit themselves to it. Finally, the force and strength of this commandment is made evident in scripture by God, and all contempt or disrespect shown to parents is grievous and therefore condemned by God and punished most severely.
Let us consider briefly, then, some of those duties that children do have to their parents. Children are to love and reverence their parents, being fearful of offending due to the respect owed parents. Children should abstain from whatever would grieve or offend their parents. They are to be subject unto their parents. Look at the blessed example which Christ gives us in Luke 2:51. After his parents realized He was missing, they returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the Temple: “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.”
Colossians 3:20 teaches us: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Even Joseph, who was so highly exalted in Egypt, “bowed himself with his face to the ground” before his father (Genesis 48:12). One might wonder at times in today’s society if these Biblical principles are being taught and enforced in the home.
Obedience to the fifth Commandment teaches us that obeying authority beyond fathers and mothers is also necessary for mankind. These positions of authority include the guardians of children, such as teachers, as well as Godly church leaders, ministers of the gospel and civil authorities. God has ordained civil authority for the general good of mankind (Romans 13:1, Ecclesiastes 10:20, Acts 23:5). Were it not for this, men would be savage beasts preying upon one another. All these persons, together with all others who may be placed in positions of authority, are included under the term “parents” as used in this Commandment. They are to be honored by us, because as we grow older, God brings them into our lives to replace parents and exercise authority over us.
Let us all pray that Godlier parenting will take place in the homes of our nation today and that children will be taught that parents are God’s way of ruling over them and teaching them respect for authority while at the same time honoring and glorifying Him.
“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 6:20)
To God be the glory.
Editor’s note: Richard M. Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.