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The Fifth Commandment

Exodus 20:12
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Obeying the fifth commandment is the easiest and yet the most difficult of all the commandments. For many of us, we love our parents and are grateful for everything they have done for us. But, let’s get real for a minute. I’m going to take a step down a path we rarely travel on this one.

We live in a fallen world. Not all families are functional or healthy. Not all of us have good parents. I have often been asked, “How do I honor a parent who has hurt or abused me?”

Let’s start with this: honoring someone is not the same thing as agreeing with them or even being obedient to them. Honoring means something different for all of us. For some, it may mean praising and celebrating a wonderful mom or dad, but for another it might involve praying for the strength to forgive. Some of us just need the courage to love in spite of everything that has been done.

So, we honor our parents; not because they deserve it but because God commands it. This is how grace works. We grow when we give grace and mercy.

Jesus tells us to love. That's what He is all about. We are told to love even our enemies and to pray even for those who persecute us. But, He does not require us to be fools. We are not expected to embrace what is evil.

In I Timothy 5, Paul wrote that we are to honor our teachers, yet false teachers were harshly condemned in scripture. In Romans 13, we are told to honor our governments but, for the apostles, that obedience ended when their rulers ordered them to disobey God.

Acts 5:29
“But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

Here is the point: God’s desire is that we honor those who gave us life. He is glorified when that happens. He also knows how hard that is in a world that is broken. Praying for your parents is the best way to show them honor. We will never go wrong if we start right there. Love and pray.

Proverbs 4:23
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

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