Hello Again: Honor

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I was in a religious group meeting when I was asked to say what my parents did wrong while raising me. The words that came to mind were “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV).”

I told the leader of the meeting I had nothing to share. The leader refused to accept my answer. You could feel the air being sucked out of the room before I was given the floor once again. I told everyone, “once I became a parent, I found new compassion for my parents. My brother recently returned from Brazil and he told me old stories that further explains my parents’ life. I won’t say anything negative because my parents did the best with that they were given.” The room remained quiet but I could see their brains were digesting my words.

Honor your father and your mother can be hard to do in today’s society. Dishonoring one’s parents have become socially acceptable and expected.

It hurts my heart when I hear Christians practicing it. I heard someone say this was an Old Testament thing so I looked it up. It turns out that it appears twice in the Old Testament, and 6 times in the New. Jesus Himself quotes it and expands our understanding of it in Matthew 15.

It hurts my heart when I hear anyone practicing dishonor. There are multiple literary works based on dishonoring parents. It is not uncommon to casually listen to dishonor in everyday conversations. It is everywhere but it doesn’t have to be.

I understand there are difficult relationships out there and the Bible showcases many of them. Take Noah and his three sons in Genesis 9 for example. Noah got drunk and became uncovered in his tent. Ham saw the nakedness of his father and told his brothers about it. Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both of their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. The Bible says that their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness (Genesis 9:22-23).

When Noah got sober and learned about what Ham did, he cursed him. He also pronounced a blessing over Shem and Japheth.

All of this happened before Moses was in the scene and we received the commandment to honor our father and our mother. I believe this is a strong indication that God takes honoring parents seriously.

I believe that similarly to what happened to Noah’s son, we can “uncover” our parents with our words. Whether they are written in poems, blog posts or disappearing Instastories, we can easily dishonor our parents with the way we describe our childhood and current relationship with them.

It is possible to speak the truth in love. It is possible to tell difficult stories with an honoring mentatility. How so? By asking God to search our hearts.

When Jesus is asked about honoring parents in Matthew 15: 1-20, he tells the Pharisees that they are “making the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition (verse 6).” The Pharisees were using intellectual reasons to dishonor their parents. Jesus call them to the floor and tells them they are deceived and they are nullifying God’s commandment and accompanying blessing.

Jesus goes on to quote Isaiah who wrote “these people honor Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me.” Jesus turns to the multitude and says “not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. (verse 11).

It is vain to think that the words of dishonor we speak and spread, are not defiled. They come from a heart that is far away from God. We need a heart change through repentance.

If God is commanding us to honor our parents, He has our well being in mind.

I have since decided that I choose to honor because of my love for God. I choose to honor because I ultimately believe God’s character.

One thing we should connect with broken relationships is the reality of restoration. God tells us about this in Galatians 6:1 (ESV): “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Restoration is not an exact science but it is a supernatural blessing God has for us. It may come through a number of ways. The key thing is that God has the power to restore you and your broken relationship with your parents.

I would like to remind you that once we repent from dishonor, we need to find the path to a healthier heart. God has given us professional Christian counselors, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers and God-fearing friends to help us along the way. Reach out for help. Refuse to let the poison of dishonor curse your life.

No matter how challenging your circumstance in life may be, God’s blessing is greater and more powerful. He’s brilliant at restoring anything that’s broken.

Choose to honor with your words. Choose to live the honoring lifestyle from your heart my friend.