In our last post, we said that giving honor is a way we show love. We noted that the two great commandments were to love God and love other people — which includes honor. Today we will look at more specifics of whom to honor and how to do that.
After honoring the Lord Himself, this is the beginning building block in teaching our children the concept of honoring others. The Fifth Commandment, found in Exodus 20: 12, is, “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
The apostle Paul restates it in Ephesians 6:1-3: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” Notice that obeying parents is closely tied to honoring them.
Notice also that the stipulation “in the Lord” is added. When teaching our children honor, we should be clear that if anyone directs them to do something wrong, whether a parent, teacher, pastor, employer, or government official, they are not required to do it. When commanded to stop preaching about Jesus, the apostles responded to the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). They were not arrogant in their response, but they were firm. We must teach our children not to let anyone talk them out of honoring God above all others.
The Bible speaks very seriously about the sin of not respecting one’s parents — even when the child is grown. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 said older children who were rebellious and disrespectful to parents should be brought before the authorities to be stoned.
While we do not use such severe measures today in dealing with rebellious children, we should help them see from a very early age that rebellion and disrespect are highly displeasing to the Lord. We must never allow ourselves to think sassiness in a little one is cute, and we cannot afford to neglect dealing with it consistently. The sooner it is taken care of, the less likely that greater problems will show up later on.
In our home, we worked diligently to get at the root heart attitudes which evidenced outwardly in disrespectful words, tones of voice, and body language (such as eye-rolling). If we only deal with outward behavior, the sin will resurface down the road a bit.
So, talk with your children about what is going on inside. Lead them into confessing sin to the Lord and calling upon Him for His help in overcoming. Help them to understand that disrespect toward people hurts God’s heart as much as it does the people they are not behaving kindly toward. Dealing with these issues is exhausting, but getting at them early and often is well worth the effort in the long run.
Honor older people for their age.
This starts with honoring older parents. Our children should understand that God expects us to respect our parents throughout their lives. Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” While we should discuss this concept with our children, it is even more important for them to observe us showing honor to our elderly parents. Seeing Mom and Dad treat Grandma and Grandpa with kindness, patience, and respect goes a long way toward helping our children do likewise.
Honoring older people should go beyond the family. Leviticus 19:32 instructs in basic manners toward the elderly: “You shall stand up before the gray head, and honor the face of the old man….”
Paul gave direction to Timothy on how to treat older men and women in the local church body: “Do not rebuke an elder, but entreat him as a father, … the elder women as mothers … with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1). 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Likewise, you who are younger, submit yourselves to those who are older….”
In much of the western world, youth and the physical beauty or strength that goes with it are glorified, while the elderly are often devalued and mocked. That is not a godly perspective. The Bible speaks much of the wisdom which comes with years, especially in the person who has grown old knowing the Lord. Job 12:12 observes, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days is understanding.” King Rehoboam made the mistake of taking the advice of men his own age, rather than listening to the veteran counselors who had served his father Solomon. The results were disastrous (1 Kings 12:2-16).
In our next two posts, we will continue looking at particular groups of people whom the Bible says to honor.
Do you need help in teaching your children about honor? The Deference and Loyalty units in Character Building for Families, Volume 1 can help!
Sample pages from the Deference unit