On this episode of The Disciple-Making Parent Podcast, we continue our look at honoring parents. In this thought-provoking episode, we’ll hear from Matt Schmucker as he walks us through Exodus 20:12 and provides a strong foundation for understanding the calling to honor parents. This sermon covers the biblical foundation of honor, the challenges of honoring non-believing or difficult parents, and the lifelong impact of honoring our parents.
Tune in as we explore this essential aspect of raising godly children and equipping parents and churches in passing the gospel to the next generation.
Topics Covered In This Week’s Podcast
04:57 The concept of authority in the modern world
08:10 The second table of the Law (commandments 5-10) and authority in the home
18:27 Who is the command to honor parents directed to?
20:25 How to exercise parental authority
22:39 How to honor parents as an adult
25:00 How to honor an undeserving parent
32:43 Why honor our parents?
36:30 Imaging Christ to our children
Chap Bettis: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children. Honor your parents. Does that concept seem outdated? And what does it even mean? And why is it important? Hi, my name is Chap Bettis, and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. This is a second podcast in which we’re going to take a look at a biblical concept that’s fallen out of favor: honor. Honor means the esteem due or paid to someone. And yet the word and the concept seem to have disappeared from our conversation.
But when we look at the Bible, we see God “uses up” one of his 10 commandments by telling us to honor our parents. What does that mean? How do we honor parents who are not believers? And how do we honor parents who are difficult or manipulative? There are many different nuances that can’t be answered in just one podcast, but this teaching will lay a strong foundation. Because in this podcast, I want to share with you a whole sermon on the calling to honor parents.
In it, Matt Schmucker carefully walks us through Exodus 20, verse 12. Matt was the founding executive director of 9Marks and he now organizes several conferences, including the Cross Conference, while serving as a member of Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, D. C. If you haven’t listened to it already, listen to the previous podcast where I share a short sermon that I’ve entitled Honor: Our Duty to God and Others.
But before we start, I want to remind you that if you’re struggling with anger in your home, then Parenting with Patience may be perfect for you. We’ve received numerous testimonies about how this five week video-driven Bible study has transformed people’s lives. So if you’re a mom or dad that’s struggling with anger, you should check out Parenting with Patience. For more information, visit parentingwithpatiencestudy.com
But for now, let’s think about Exodus 20 verse 12, and God’s call on everyone to honor their parents.
Matt Schmucker: Morning everyone. Greetings from your nation’s capital. Thank you for sending all your tax dollars our way and making our city beautiful. I often say it’s good to be out of the District of Columbia, among normal people. The first time I preached here, your pastor was a much, much younger man. You’ve really done a number on him. I preached on the topic of hell. He hasn’t invited me back since. This is the first time. 13 years it’s taken me.
I’m teaching on a very different realm this morning, on parenting. Now, for some of you, the distinction may be lost. But I hope, as I teach here this morning… You’ll be benefited by it and some things will be clarified. My hope this morning is that you don’t sit in judgment of the preacher, but you allow the preacher’s words to sit in judgment of you. What does that mean? That you would actually hear God’s perfect word through me, and that your own life might be changed, corrected, recalibrated in light of what the word says. That’s my hope. And if that’s the case, if we see that happen this morning, that song we just prayed, His Mercy is More, will come true. That’ll be God’s mercy and grace on your life as you hear the God’s word and your life is made to look more like him. So to that end, let’s pray.
Father, we need your help this morning. We need your aid. We need you to take down all the distractions in our lives. Help us to forget what lies behind, help us not to worry about what’s in front of us, but come now, Lord Jesus, come and open our ears and open our eyes to how we might more perfectly image you, that we might live more righteously, more of a holy life that reflects you, but we need your aid to do this. And we ask for it. Help us now. Help us to concentrate for these next few minutes. We pray this for our good, O God, and we pray this for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
All right, when I utter the word authority, do you embrace it or do you recoil? That’s my first question. Is authority a good word or a bad word? And by authority, I mean that decisive authority which we actually listen to and obey. Is it an external thing held up and imposed from the outside? Or is it an internal thing, what one feels from within.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Carl Trueman’s book, it’s called Strange New World.
Okay. A few of you. I think it’s an excellent book. You should read it. It, it explores 200 years of the world’s so-called greatest thinkers. And if you read this book, you’ll understand how we have arrived at our day, at our time, our age, where man’s inner life itself has become the source of all truth, all authority. Listen to a Trueman quote here: “The modern self finds himself in the midst of what has become expressive individualism, where each of us seeks to give expression to our individual inner lives, rather than seeing our lives as embedded in communities and bound by natural and supernatural laws. Authenticity to inner feelings, rather than adherence to transcendent truths, becomes the norm.”
He argues throughout the book that decisive authority is now our inner feelings. It goes so far as to determining one’s gender. Am I a male? Am I a female? Am I neither? Am I both? Depends on how I feel today. Inward, psychological conviction is the non-negotiable reality to which all external realities must be made to confirm. I’m going to repeat that. Inward, psychological conviction is the non negotiable reality to which all external realities must be made to confirm. If this is true, I think Kevin McKay allowing a guest preacher to speak on Exodus 20:12 is at least a bit old fashioned.
A bit out of date, don’t you think? If the idea of honoring your father and your mother wasn’t out of date before, it was certainly shot through by the ’60s. The 1960’s, I’m saying. That generation drove Volkswagen Beetles with the bumper sticker Question Authority plastered on the back of it. That generation boycotted the Vietnam draft. They abandoned the church and they bagged the institution of marriage for free love. I know. I was a baby boomer. I am a baby boomer. My older brothers were all in the midst of that as they went through college. But by God’s grace, I’m standing before you as a redeemed boomer. God poured down his electing love on me while I was in college as well.
And I’m here to tell you the opposite of what the world is telling you right now. Do not look to the world for an operational definition of authority. That’s a mistake, that’s a huge mistake. The Ten Commandments, from which our passage comes, was not handed down by God merely to be treated as the Ten Suggestions. They were handed to the people of Israel so that they might become the very image of God on earth. Ladies and gentlemen, this Bible that you have in front of you is your instruction manual on how to love both God and neighbors. And this morning, we’re going to turn to what they call the second table of the law, the first table consisting of those first four commandments that are essentially vertical obligations egarding our relationship to God.
And then the second six commandments, or the second table, of the law are horizontal obligations aimed at earthly relationships. Now, before we dive into Exodus 20, I want to say something about how we treat this particular passage. So, modern sermons are just riddled with jokes, as you can imagine. But as I did my preparation for this sermon, and the older I went back in the commentaries, the older the writers, the more ancient they became, they became deadly serious. There were no jokes. I think that’s how God intended it. And that’s how I’m going to treat it this morning, okay?
All right, so this sermon should profit everyone with ears to hear. Now, sometimes preachers use unusually and unnecessarily big words, so I am periodically going to stop, especially for the children here, and spell some things out for them. Because this is essentially aimed at you. So, kids, and I’ll throw in students with you. Here’s your first help. Everything I’ve said so far is asking this: Should I obey my inner feelings, my feelings from inside, or something or someone outside of me? That’s the question I’m trying to answer.
So, Exodus 20 verse 12. You’ll find it on page 64 if you’re using the pew Bible. It’s pretty simple. You probably know it from heart. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” There it is. That’s it.
So, here’s the outline. I’ve got four goals. Ready? The four are: what, who, when, and why. That’s your outline. I’m going to try to answer what this is saying, who is it aimed at, when, and then the why. So first the what. What does it mean to honor your father and mother? If the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” is the foundation of those first four commandments, that first table of the law, then you could equally argue that the fifth commandment is the foundation for the second table. Why? Well, Jesus summarizes these laws in Matthew 22:2. He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Question. Where do you first learn to love your neighbor? Anybody? In the home. Family. Family is the first and primary incubator from which all other neighbor love flows. Have you thought about that before? It shapes all other relationships. When you come across a kind, considerate, self-controlled little boy, do you think, Hmm, I bet he learned that on the Disney Channel? Okay, there was a joke. I’m sorry. I said I was going to treat this seriously, but there you go. Okay, how about you come across a little girl and you think, Wow, she’s respectful, others-centered, quick to obey. Did she learn that scrolling TikTok? I don’t think so. Behind these children stand faithful parents. It’s true, good parents can have children that go rogue, and bad parents can miraculously have good children. But generally speaking, that’s not how the world works. From the beginning of time, God set it up for parents to be good authority in their children’s life, and for children to obey and profit from such authority.
So, just a few months ago, I was teaching what we call the” core seminar,” your equipping hour for parents, and I said, “There are really two broad kinds of categories or ages in a children’s life. The first is 0-5, train them to be under authority. That’s the main goal, train these little ones to be under authority. The second broad category age is 6-12, helping them to grow in God’s character, in his likeness. If you fail to teach a young child to be under authority, all bets are off on trying to teach them God’s character. And embrace yourself for what happens when those children step outside of the home. Augustine said, “If anyone fails to obey his parents, is there anyone he will spare?”
Interesting, isn’t it? The home, the family, is where we first learn to live with other people. We are introduced to the very idea of authority and respect and honor. Our family is our first hospital, our first government, our first school, our first church. It’s where we even learn how to properly worship. If it’s a good home, the child gets the first and best introduction to the idea of protection and love.
Okay, so again, what does it mean to honor your father or mother? The word honor comes from the Hebrew word kavod, it literally means heavy or weighty. It’s the Old Testament word for the glory of God. It’s the weightiness of his divine majesty. To honor one’s parents then is to give due weight to their position, to give them recognition. They deserve for their God-given authority. Kids, students, to honor your parents is to respect and value and prize your parents as gifts of God.
The opposite is to dishonor and disrespect or to treat them lightly. The Old Testament had a way of dealing with offspring who treated their parents dishonorably. Do you know these verses? I’ll just give you one. Leviticus 20 verse 9, now listen to this. “For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall”- surely be put on time out?- “shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood is upon him.” I can give you other verses. This was literally a matter of life and death, how a child treated his parents. Praise the Lord, we’re in, under the new covenant in Christ, yes? I share these verses to show you the seriousness of the commandment.
But even in the New Testament, the issue is still very much alive. Paul, in 2 Timothy 3, says there are days that are coming, he calls them “the last days,” where things will get very difficult. Listen to this long list of what will happen on the last days. “For people will be lovers of self.” I’m going to stop there. Think about, could we be in the last days based on this list? “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient of their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Did you hear that? “Disobedient to their parents” is a sign of the last days before the Lord returns. Simply put, a child must be taught and come to recognize that a father and a mother have been placed over them by God himself, and therefore owes reverence and obedience and gratefulness. So therefore, it makes no difference whether that parent is always deserving or worthy of honor, for it is God who has put them there.
So it doesn’t say honor only the good mothers and fathers, and it doesn’t say, honor all your parents only when they give you what you want. The title of father and mother is deemed weighty in the eyes of God. It is an office of great significance. Whether the world sees it is of no matter to me. Period.
Kids, students, in God’s loving providence, your parents gave you life. Not all parents choose to. That fact alone is sufficient to warrant your honoring them.
Number two, Who? Who is the commandment aimed at? Well, the answer is children. Children, I’m going to talk to you for a moment. God has placed your father and or mother in your life especially for you. You should assume that they know more and better about what’s good for you. If you feel like this is hard, remember Jesus, the one who never sinned, who upholds all things by his word, was also submissive to his parents. Do you see? The second person of the Trinity, of the Godhead, put himself under the authority of his earthly parents.
Now, as you get older, as you grow, so should your relationship with your parents. As you give evidence of maturity and strong character, so you should also be given more responsibility and independence. But that doesn’t change the command to honor your father and mother. Teenagers, it seems a rite of passage these days, and for a long time actually, that you’re expected to rebel. Push against your parents. And you feel it, don’t you? You feel like your parents sometimes don’t get you. They’re too strict, too many rules.
Nonetheless, this commandment is for you. Do you honor your parents with your speech? At school, when the other kids are badmouthing their parents, do you join in? They don’t understand, they’re always on my back. In other words, do you treat your parents lightly? Before God, that is a mistake. I dare say it’s a sin. Do you want to be a rebel? Why don’t you rebel against how the world dismisses parents and instead honor them?
Parents, right after Paul tells the children in Ephesians 6 to give honor, what does he say? “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We dads, we tend to fall off one side of the horse or the other. We’re either too heavy-handed and harsh, or too passive. Instead, Deuteronomy 6 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in the house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” That’s pretty much all the time, people.
Don’t provoke, but teach. Give godly instructions. Show your children the way of the Lord. Sadly, some parents are outright abusive and provoke their children to anger. They bring on the rebellion. Some of us are more subtle. We parents can replace God’s word with our word, can’t we? We can blur the line between God’s principles and our preferences. We can try to exercise our authority a little too long. In this day and age of helicopter parenting, I’d like to encourage you parents, particularly, to think about your role more as a long walk. When your children are little, you should be out front of them, leading the way, right? But as they get older, as they go into high school and college, and certainly right after college, you should be moving alongside of them more as a friend and fellow traveler, a journeyman in this walk of faithfulness. And the independent years, you better be behind them. Cheering them on, giving support where you can, but cheering them on. You’re no longer in authority. It takes wisdom to know when to relationally downshift parents as you relate to your children. And you college kids, students, give your parents some grace. They’re working through some things the same way you are.
Back to Exodus 20:12. Notice there’s no age limit here. It’s not only for small children or while children live at home. How sure am I? Well, our brother just read from Matthew. Jesus is talking to scribes and Pharisees. These are the religious leaders of the day. And Jesus asks them, “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, Honor your father and your mother, and whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.” What’s going on there? These Pharisees and scribes were not taking care of their needy elderly parents. They said, “We’ve given everything, all of our spare dollars, to Temple.” Those parents are on their own. And Jesus is saying, You’ve ignored God’s law for man’s, and that’s sin. That means that Jesus sees the care of our parents, even in their old age, as a prime example of honoring them. It is sin to throw mom in the old age home, the old folks’ home, and leave her abandoned.
So let’s get this straight. I have to honor my parents when I’m under their roof, when I’ve left home, when I’m an adult, and they’re old. And how about after they’ve died? How about then? Well, our posture should be one of honor, how we speak of them, even after they’ve passed.
Now, it doesn’t mean you don’t recognize your parents failings. It doesn’t mean you aren’t honest and open about the pains and hurts that perhaps transpired in your home. It doesn’t mean you don’t laugh with them about their foibles. Those of you who are younger than I am, be really kind to those of us who reluctantly came into the digital age, we’re a mess. So just be kind to us and just go along with us and help us. Okay? But work hard to avoid the temptation to mock or despise them. Look up, not down, at them.
Number three, When. Now, are there limits to honoring your mother and father? There are two scenarios which I think is going to be very difficult to honor your parents, and some of you will be able to relate to this in ways that others won’t.
The first is when parents put pressure on you not to live for Christ. Even parents who know the Lord have been known to try to persuade their children from following following his calling. You take one example. I’ve known numerous men and women, young men and women, called to the mission field and their parents were begging them not to go. They just couldn’t imagine to be without their kids and grandkids.
Then there’s unconverted parents, who by nature, according to the Bible, are blind. They do not understand the way of the cross, which is often a way of sacrifice, which parents who are unbelievers, especially here in America, don’t understand why you would spend your money, why you would spend your time to follow Christ. Your unconverted parents, their values are literally upside down from yours. So what do you do in the case of either believing or unbelieving parents? What did Jesus say? Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” We do have a loyalty and allegiance higher than even that of our parents.
I have a dear friend who’s a church planter in North India. This church has kindly supported him and his work. There are 40-some young men training, indigenous Indians training for the ministry to be church planters among a people where there’s 2, 000 unreached people groups just in North India. 800 million people who can be born, live, and die never having heard the name of Christ. But he was shunned by his family. Why? Because he would not submit to his father’s request to physically live near his family. He took Jesus’ words literally to go and make disciples. He counted the cost. Disobeyed his father’s request and honored his heavenly father’s request.
The second scenario is when you have parents who are simply undeserving. The Bible does instruct us to honor parents, but it does not command us to stay in harm’s way. In a room this size, it is no stretch to imagine that some of you came out of homes something less than Leave it to Beaver and Brady Bunch, where these TV moms and dads could fix just about anything with their wisdom in 30 minutes.
I’ve known a young woman for nearly 15 years now who was given up for adoption at the age of eight because her father was serving a long deserved sentence in jail. And her mother died having subjected her body to unmentionable things. As a young girl, she saw things that no child should ever see. How is this young woman to speak of her parents?
Some of you have been verbally and mentally abused, and some still have tender scars from physical abuse. If no one has ever said this to you, let me say this to you. I am so sorry. What you suffered goes against all nature and God’s command, and he will judge it. I understand the instinctive, natural reaction to say they don’t deserve to be honored.
So, is this possible? Can I really honor an undeserving parent?
We know from the book of Samuel that king Saul wouldn’t have won any contest for Father of the Year. He ordered his soldiers, including his son Jonathan, to kill the future king David, an innocent man, and the dearest of friends to Jonathan. This put Jonathan in a very bad position. He’s supposed to honor his father, who’s also king, all the while knowing what his father wanted was against God’s law. Jonathan did the right thing. He actually honored God by disobeying his father. He warns David and he intercedes with his father to swear off this sin. He worked to preserve the king’s honor. And the last we see of him is where? On the battlefield at his father’s side, trying to fend off the Philistines from killing his father.
How can you honor the dishonorable parent? Well, if you can do nothing else, take the advice of Proverbs 11:12. “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” When my own parents were still alive, I asked one of my brothers- I’m one of seven sons- I asked, “How am I supposed to honor mom and dad, having become a Christian now?” He said, “Matt, choose to live an honorable life.” It was wisdom not often gotten from my older brothers, but it was wisdom at the time. He knew that if I live an honorable life, by association, my parents are then honored. Even if they’re undeserving.
But friends, the only way any of this is possible is through Christ’s strength. We, in our own strength, are too weak and too sinful to live up to this or any of God’s commands. The only hope we have is to die to ourselves and be born again in Christ, to be made new. What’s that mean? You Christians are always talking about that. What’s that mean? I’m talking about repenting of and renouncing our sin and turning to Jesus, who bore our sins on a brutal cross, who died in our place as a substitute that we might have new life. That we might have living water flowing through us and strength to obey these commands, even commands like honoring your father and your mother.
Number four, Why? Why is it being asked? Why should we honor our parents? Several reasons. Parents deserve it for the many sacrifices they make on your behalf. Children, you don’t get that yet, but trust me, they’re making it. Two, parents have a wealth of knowledge. Kids may not think that right now, but they probably know more than you realize. You probably know the Mark Twain line. “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant, I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Three, God designed it this way. God made us alive and made us to live in families where parents are teaching and guiding and disciplining. They’re there to instruct. My oldest daughter, we were talking about her just this morning- my oldest daughter and her husband had just gone away for a weekend with another young couple who had a three-year-old. And my daughter, by the time she got home, she was like, “I was just ready to pull my hair out. These parents never gave any instructions, just options. The conversations went like this: Do you want eggs or oatmeal for breakfast? Do you want to play inside or outside? Do you want to walk or be in the stroller? Do you want red or blue pajamas? Do you want to go to bed in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?” My daughter said it just became absurd. Who is the leader? Who’s the decision maker? This is modern parenting?
Now, I’m not against options, but you’re there to lead. You’re there to model, parents. God has designed families to work where parents lead and children follow. Parents, you are ambassadors, agents, representatives to the family on behalf of the living God. Children happily living under the rule of their parents is the beginning of them learning to live under the rule of God.
Kids, students, here’s a great reason to honor your parents. There’s a promise attached to this commandment. “Honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land that your, the Lord your God is giving you.” Now God’s not promising a long life here. The phrase actually has to do with living an abundant life. God is saying, If you want to enjoy my full blessings in this life, you will listen to your mom and dad. God could have ended the command with a threat, but he didn’t. He ends with a promise. It’s like he’s saying to the children of Israel, Your parents saw my great works. I turned the Nile into blood red, and I, I delivered your parents out of Pharaoh’s hands, and I, I parted the Red Sea. Your parents walked through on dry land, and I brought water out of a rock, and now, And now, as you’re on the cusp of this land that I’ve promised, if you listen to your parents and their stories of deliverance, you, too, will be delivered. You will live an abundant life. You will know my blessings as you live under my authority.
Now, some of you kids have been well taught and might be saying, These words were spoken in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant. We are Christ’s church under the New Covenant. Excellent point! In God’s wisdom, though, he had the Apostle Paul say it again in the New Testament, not once but twice. Ephesians 6, “Children, obey your parents and the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother.” Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
Kids, I want you to keep listening for what I’m going to say to your parents now. What ultimately happens to the recipients of these Ten Commandments and their children and their children’s children, parents? We read in Judges 2:10, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, or the work that he had done for Israel.” Did not know the Lord, did not even know what God had done for them. The great deliverer and his spectacular deliverance goes unspoken of. How is that possible? Apparently, the parents didn’t bother to open their mouths and speak to this. What’s said about generational wealth can be said about faith. The first generation earns it, or the first generation believes it. The second generation assumes it, and the third generation- what?- loses it.
Parents, you are instructed to teach your children. To offer his salvation through Christ and his promises. Raise your hand if you’re a grandparent. Raise your hand if you hope to be a grandparent one day. All right, good, that’s good. Hey, grandparents, you have an opportunity here. You can decide, are you going to be that grandparent that just orders toys on Amazon and gives your kids sugar cookies? Or are you going to give them the living word of God? Because you have a choice. What are you going to be?
I’m going to brag on my wife here just for a minute, so don’t look that way. You’ll embarrass her. Okay. I was traveling. I was working somewhere and I came home late, late one night, well after midnight. I climbed through the dark and get into bed. I slept in a little bit, but I noticed when I woke that something was up that morning. There was something different going on in the house and I crept downstairs and I looked through the dining room down into the living room. And my wife had decided to have a sleepover, without my knowledge. There were four little Schmucker grandchildren there.
There she was sitting on the couch with a six-year-old leaning on her shoulder, a four-year-old on one knee, a three-year-old on the other knee, and a one-and-a-half-year-old down at her foot. And she was reading the Word of God. She was reading a children’s book to them. And I just thought, That’s exactly what I wanted to do. Praise the Lord for that.
Now, she knows where the sugar is. She can pass the Oreo cookies. Trust me, she can do that. One time, I saw her with little Zeke say, “Do you want one Oreo cookie or two?” I mean, it’s just not fair. I don’t even know where the Oreo cookies are kept, you know, and she’s passing out Oreos left and right. But she’s passing the word of God to another generation. Praise the Lord for that. Do that. Commit yourself, parents. Grandfathers and grandmothers. Encourage yourself.
Those of you who are parents and not yet parents, the first time I ever heard this, I was a 22-year-old single guy, just newly converted. I knew a grandfather who had a vision for his family. For his grandchildren even. Own that. Do that. Set your mind and heart to do that of Psalm 78: “I will open my mouth in a parable, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children. But tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord in his might and the wonders that he has done so they should have hope in God.” That’s our that’s our highest ambition: that our children were to have hope in God.
We’re called to image Christ to our children. That’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to put him on display to reflect his glorious character, like a mirror to the sun. Too often we fall short and we’re like one of the bendy, curvy carnival mirrors you’ve seen. Okay, that’s fine. Just recommit yourself. Recommit yourself to living a holy life and opening your mouth to those around you. By doing this. By being peacemakers, by loving our enemies, by being holy, we are putting God on display. We’re giving our children and grandchildren a taste of the goodness of God. Little portraits of Him.
I just want to tell a quick story. We have five children, a son and four daughters. Our middle child, 28 years old, lives there in Washington, D. C. She only recently professed the Lord. She said to me about a year ago, “Dad, I believe everything you believe, I just don’t feel it. God seems distant, vast.” She understood his sovereignty, but she didn’t feel the personal side. So I gave her a book by Dane Ortland, Gentle and Lowly. If you’ve not read it, I’d encourage you to read it. The book really helped her. She saw that Christ comes near the brokenhearted and is tender with us and gentle with us. She came and she read this passage to us from that book. She said it caught her attention because the book talked about how God’s forgiveness is final. That he removes our sin as far as the east is from the west and forgets it. And she said, “You know, I thought about you and mom when I read that.” She said, “You did discipline us. We knew the wrath of God.” But she said, “Then we asked for forgiveness and you gave forgiveness. And you hugged us and you prayed over us and then we went back to playing. I saw God’s forgiveness pictured in your parenting.” And I looked at Eli and I thought, Well, I can die now. There was one time we might have gotten it right. Because we parents, we know we mess up too often, right? But for just a minute there, we imaged God. And she saw it and understood. Praise the Lord.
Alright, kids and students. You get the last word. You always get homework at the end of class, right? Here’s your homework for this week. Think hard about how you can honor your mom and dad. Think about it. I’m going to give you some hints. Maybe it’s simply saying thank you. That’s a good start. Or maybe saying I’m sorry. After your parents give you instructions, maybe you say, “Yes Mom,” or “Okay Dad.” Trust me, it’ll make their day. And next week, when you come back to church, I want you to tell Pastor Kevin how you just flooded your parents with honor this week, okay? Will you do that? So Exodus 20:12 is not a suggestion but a commandment with a wonderful promise. “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God has given you.”
Let’s pray. Father, your mercies have been new this morning already to us, and we praise you for them. Even the hearing of this word is a mercy on your part to give us yet another day to hear your life giving word. So we pray, O God, that we would in fact hear, that we would not be like some who have seeds sown and then walk away having never heard them, but these seeds would go deep down into our souls and take root. So help us, help us to take all that’s true from what was just spoken and remember that we might honor our parents and honor you in doing so. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Chap: You’ve been listening to The Disciple-Making Parent podcast. For more information about the book, The Disciple-Making Parent, visit thedisciplemakingparent.com.