The Most Important Honor
Last Sunday I preached through the Ephesians 6 passage detailing the relationship between children and parents. The commands are clear. Children are to obey and honor. Parents are to discipline and instruct. These were things that were filled out in the sermon.
However, there is one point I did not fill out properly. I would like to correct that in this blog. It has to do with children honoring parents. What I focused on in my sermon is that obedience and honor are linked, but they fluctuate. When children are small, obedience is primary. But as children grow, obedience shrinks as honor grows. As adolescents understand more and more about how the world works, they realize all that their parents actually do for them. This should cause the honoring of parents to grow exponentially. Finally, even as obedience comes to an end at adulthood, honor continues for a lifetime.
While all of this is true about honoring, upon further reflection, I realized I inadvertently left out the foundation of honor. To forget the foundation is kind of a problem. A building can be built of fine materials, but if it doesn’t have a foundation it is eventually going to sink and sag and most likely come to a catastrophic end.
What is the foundation of honor? The foundation of honor is God and his ordination of parents. The first and foremost reason we honor parents is because God gave them the role of parenting. They are God’s ministers to children. They are God’s appointed workmen in the lives of little ones. Whatever God does, it must be acknowledged as important for the single reason that God did it. God is always right, always glorious, always purposeful, and always wise in his dealings. You may not see the details of why something God did is right, glorious, purposeful, and wise, but that is because you are a small, sinful, creature. God is God, and all he does is to be honored. In the case of children, both young and grown, we honor them as parents because God assigned them as our parents.
Why is this so important? Because parents do not always live honorably. Parents sin against their children. Parents neglect, abuse, condemn, discourage, poorly provide and deceive their children. This can cause a lifetime’s worth of trauma for children. Why in the world would children honor such dishonorable parents? They must honor them because they are still God’s appointed people for this task. Because parents hold a God-given position, they must be given a God-commanded honor. Because children will most assuredly see the sin their parents do, if they don’t also see God’s appointment of parents into that role, the view of sin will erode honor. It will even cause a collapse of honor that leads to division and estrangement. That is, unless there is a foundation of honor that is resting on God and the fact that God appointed those two people to be the parents.
This is not only isolated to the relationship between children and parents. Wives are to respect husbands who do dishonoring things because God has given the husband the role as head. No matter what they do or do not do, they hold a God-ordained office as head. This is also true of government. God is the one who ordains those who come into governmental authority (Romans 13). As such, they are ministers of God. This includes the most wicked dictators the world has known. Even while the sin is real and will be judged by God himself, God still calls us to honor those who are in authority, and to submit to them at every point we are able. When we cannot submit, we humbly take the consequences that are handed down from those positions of authority.
Therefore, the foundation of honor is always God himself. He is the most honorable and worthy person in all the universe. Because he is delegating his authority, wherever that delegation happens, such as in parents, husbands, or government, we must honor those who have been ordained by God.
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