The first commandment with a promise: “honor.” Since I want all God has promised, I need to be very familiar with the concept of honor! His very first covenant promise comes to me through honor, honoring the strategy and design of God for my life and God’s design for kingdom culture.
When God shared with His people His concepts of culture, His strategies of leadership, and His values, beliefs, and behaviors for people representing Him on earth, He revealed that the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him rewards people who honor.
The Hebrew word, kabed, means “weight.” Those of you somewhat familiar with “glory” will recognize the similarity with the word, “kabod” translated “glory.” He is heavy, He’s my Father! Glory represents value, and in God that value is intrinsic. God’s Glory is a manifestation of His character, who He is, so when we experience His Glory, we are experiencing a manifestation God’s character.
In the commandment, the term honor speaks of the weight or value of father and mother. In short, honor releases that value into our lives, the full benefit of God’s design for our lives is released as promised when we properly honor the role God designed them to fulfill in our lives.
Lest we miss the understanding we should have of the Ten Commandments and the cultural code God gave Israel, Jesus arrived to bring them all to fullness so that we would have grace to live God’s norms in the New Covenant. They are restated in the New Covenant in some form or other that clarifies that they didn’t pass away but came into fullness. In this case, Paul says in Ephesians 6 that “Children should obey parents in the Lord for this is just and right. Honor your parents for this is the first commandment with a promise.”
What is the promise? Quick! Tell me what God promised as the first promise of the Decalogue. Surely every believer would be able to immediately tell me!
The promise of honor is long and good life and living. The source of natural life is God but the origination point of that life was designed to bring value. Honor the origination and life-design of parents and that life you receive through them will be good and long!
A Lot of Repenting is Needed
One of the signs of this age in which we live was prophesied to be “disobedient to parents” as part of their narcissistic thinking and behavior. Ungrateful, profane, arrogant, without natural affection.
Can any culture properly function without healthy families? Can any family properly function without honor? Can proper relationships within families function without this basic honor between children and parents?
Let me ask you this, Can the dysfunction of dishonor in the families of a culture be reflected in the relationships within the ecclesia that is called together there? And, if God’s desire is for this honor to be functioning, how can the ecclesia pretend to be confronting and transforming culture when there is dysfunction and dishonor within the ecclesia?
When our call is to disciple cultures, could we not consider the enemy of God’s kingdom would target our function of honor? So, if we were to measure our effectiveness to transform our culture by the level of honor functioning in the ecclesia, how would be feel about the influence and impact of the ecclesia?
Paul ties obey and honor together. Obey means you are have standards for behavior set in your life by someone other than yourself, standards you are expected to fulfill. Obeying those standards is part of honoring. Certainly spiritual fathering is different from natural fathering, but the same sense of honor applies. Spiritual fathers set a pathway or strategy for their children to follow with a mind to move them into maturity. Dishonor produces dysfunction.
I would say that both family and ecclesia are suffering from a bad case of dishonor! I would say a whole bunch of repenting needs to be done. Repentance means “I change to be changed.”
Honor God, Honor Your Father
Now, let’s speak directly to the issue of imperfect fathers. Let’s include abusive and absentee fathers. Let’s be real and acknowledge a failure of fathers as well as children as source of the dishonor and dysfunction.
I hear you saying, “Well, if you knew the experiences I’ve had with natural and spiritual fathering, you would be singing a different tune.”
I acknowledge the imperfection and dysfunction of many fathers, both natural and spiritual. I acknowledge abuse and absentee issues both in natural and spiritual fathering. But I also acknowledge that these failures in performance do not destroy God’s design and promise!
In other words, the failure of people to live out God’s designs do not destroy the designs. They remain. The commandment and the promise are eternal. The second honor is released the fullness of the function can be restored!
Paul also acknowledges the pain of dysfunctional fathering, pointing out that poor fathering empties children of the basic motivations that build strong relationships. “Father, do not irritate your children to exasperating anger or resentment but rear them in discipline and the Lord’s counsel.”
But can I just be real with you enough to tell you that the first problem with good fathering and rebellious children isn’t that parents are too hard on their kids? The problem is that they fail to establish good habits of obedience early enough and reinforce those behaviors with consistent, loving attention.