How to Live a Long Life
Dr. Joe Temple


Will you open your Bibles, please, to chapter 20 of the book of Exodus. We are studying the Ten Commandments as God gave them to Moses. We have had a number of lessons on the side issues related to the Ten Commandments, and we are now looking at the Commandments themselves, trying to learn exactly what they say and how they are applicable to our individual lives regardless of the Age in which we might live. That this may become clear, may I remind you the the Ten Commandments were given by God long before they were written by Moses on tables of stone, and that with the exception of the one concerning the Sabbath Day, are all repeated in the New Testament as the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Fifth Commandment

You will find the Commandment at which we look now, commonly referred to as the Fifth Commandment, recorded in verse 12:

Exodus 20

12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

May I say to begin with that although most of us are grown, and in many instances our fathers and mothers have gone to be with the Lord, this Commandment is still applicable from a twofold standpoint. All too often, as we are going to see, we confuse the word “honor” with “obedience,” and we get the idea that when we have reached a certain age, we no longer owe our parents obedience–that the Commandment is for children and not for all folk. We want to remind you that the word is not “obey.” The word is “honor,” and to “obey” is only a very small part of to “honor.”

Then, as we are going to see in our discussion, the responsibility for the fulfillment of this Commandment lies not upon the children and the young people, but upon the adults and the parents. Therefore, all of us who have any contact with children in any way–teachers or Sunday School teachers, neighbors who give the neighbor children cookies, or what have we; any adult–have a responsibility in relation to this Commandment. So we are particularly anxious that we understand this Commandment in its entirety.

If you are familiar with the two tables of the Decalogue, you know that there is a controversy as to how the Commandments should be divided. There is one school of thought, for example, that says that five of the Commandments were written on one table of stone, and five were written on another table of stone. They suggest that the first five have a relationship to God, and the second five have a relationship to our fellowman. Then there is another school of thought that suggests that four of the Commandments were written on one table of stone, and six were written on another table of stone–four of them referring particularly to God, and six of them referring particularly to our relationship to men.

A Transitional Commandment

There is a smaller school of thought, and I am going to associate myself with this school, that suggests that regardless of how these Commandments were written, as far as the actual tables are concerned, this Commandment at which we look now is transitional. It is a Commandment which points back to those Commandments related to our obligation to God, and it points forward to those Commandments related to our obligation to society or to men. I think that as we consider it together you will see that it is, indeed, a transitional Commandment, because both our obedience to God and our obedience to the laws of society are involved.

I think this will become evident if you will turn with me to the book of Romans, chapter 1. In this chapter we have the original state of the human heart after the fall, the original state of the human heart after sin first entered the human race. The thing that is called to our attention in the description of the human heart at this time is a violation of this very Commandment about which we are thinking. Notice verse 21:

Romans 1

21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Purposely Worthy of Death

Then there are listed a number of things to which God gave them up, and in verse 26 it is repeated that God gave them up. Look at verse 28:

Romans 1

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, [notice this statement] disobedient to parents,
31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

If you will notice the phrase, “disobedient to parents,” in the last part of verse 30, you will see that it is so placed by the Holy Spirit as to be the stem from which most of these other evils flow. Keep in mind that we are not ruling out the need for the regeneration of the human heart; we are suggesting to you that disobedience to parents–a failure to obey the fifth Commandment–lies at the root of a great many of the evils of our society today. That is the reason why it is so exceedingly important to emphasize this Commandment.

A Fault Among Christians

This Commandment and its emphasis are needed as sorely among Christian families as they are among those who make no claim on Christ. Some people seem to have the idea that all we need to do is to get our children saved and God will wave a magic wand over them and everything will be all right. I don't want to be misunderstood; you do have a responsibility as parents, as we are going to see, to lead your children to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But that does not necessarily mean that they will be obedient. It does not necessarily mean that they will honor their parents.

I have traveled extensively in the course of my ministry during these years, and I have been in homes where it was a benediction and a blessing to see the attitude of the children toward their parents. And I have been in other homes where my heart ached as I saw the disrespect on the part of Christian children, so-called, for Christian parents. I shuddered when I went to my room at night to think of the harvest they were going to reap when those children got a little older. I could almost hear them saying, “I don't know where we failed. The Bible says that if you train up a child in the way he should go, then you will never have any trouble with him.” They had failed at the basic point. They had failed in emphasizing this Fifth Commandment.

Signs Pointing Toward Christ's Return

This passage of Scripture that we have read is, as I have said, related to the beginning of the human race. I would like for you to turn with me to Paul's second letter to Timothy, and notice a prophecy related to the end of the Age. I have said, and I repeat now, that I beleive we are approaching the end of the Age. I do not believe that it will be very long until the Lord Jesus Christ comes. One of the things that causes us to realize the nearness of the end is what we are going to notice here in II Timothy, chapter 3:

II Timothy 3

1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

I would like for you to notice toward the end of verse 2 the same phrase we found in Romans 1:30; “disobedient to parents.” Here again emphasis is placed on this Fifth Commandment and its violation in such fashion as to indicate that the ills which beset our society today, such as are described in this chapter, stem from a failure to observe properly the Fifth Commandment.

The First Commandment With Promise

Since the Holy Spirit has placed as much emphasis on this Commandment as He has, I think it would be wise for us to know exactly what it says, and what our responsibilities are in relation to it. So I would like for you to turn with me to chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians, as I remind you that this is a unique Commandment, unique in its relation to all the others of the Ten. The Holy Spirit of God singles out this Commandment in Ephesians 6, reminding us that it is different from the others and different, as a matter of fact, from all the other Commandments of the Lord:

Ephesians 6

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Will you notice particularly verse 2: “Honor thy father and mother.” The uniqueness of this Commandment is emphasized by the Holy Spirit in the words, “which is the first commandment with promise.” This is the first Commandment God gave with a promise. Surely this would single it out as an important Commandment, and one which the Lord was particularly anxious for us to observe. What is the promise related to this Commandment? The promise is twofold.

A Prolonged Life

If you will go back with me now to chapter 20 of the book of Exodus, where we found this Commandment originally, you will notice that the promise is a prolonging of days, a long life:

Exodus 20

12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Here is the promise that accompanies this Commandment: If one honors his father and his mother, he can expect to see good days; he can expect to live a long life. Of course, you understand that every passage of Scripture must be interpreted in the light of every other passage. This does not say that just because you honor your mother and father, God is going to build a hedge about you, and no disease will ever touch you, so that you will live forever; no accident will ever happen to you, so that you will live forever. But it does say that if you honor your father and your mother, God is going to look with favor on you, and you can expect a prolonging of days.

As a matter of fact, I think this is a better phrase for it than just long life, and I think that becomes evident when you see how this Commandment is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 5. There the emphasis is placed, it seems to me, on the relationship which it bears to long life:

Deuteronomy 5

16Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Here is a definite statement, then, that God is going to prolong the days of the man who learns to honor his father and his mother. I think there is a very basic reason for that; it is that if children are taught this matter of honoring father and mother, which I want to emphasize again is more detailed than the mere word “obedience” implies, he will learn the secret of real living. An individual who learns to honor his father and mother will learn to honor God, and the individual who learns to honor God will find himself saved a great deal of trouble.

Promise Applied to Gentiles Also

There are those who say that this Commandment is particularly for the nation of Israel, in view of the fact that the Holy Spirit said He would prolong the days of these individuals in the land “which the Lord God gave.” If you will go back to chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians with me, you will notice that the Apostle Paul takes this Commandment and emphasizes it in the hearing not of Jews but to Gentiles. He emphasizes it in the hearing of those who are known to be members of the Body of Christ. He emphasizes it for the benefit of Christians, and he says:

Ephesians 6

2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

So we would suggest to you that the first part of the promise is related to long life, and the second part of the promise is related to prosperity, for you will notice verse 2:

This literally is, “that thou mayest be prosperous.” I believe we can accept God'[s Word at face value, and I believe that if children honor their parents they can expect God to give them health and they can expect God to prosper them. They have learned the real secret of living

Honor Defined

With these suggestions in mind, I would like to suggest that we look for a moment at the actual practice of this Commandment. How can we put it into actual practice? What does it mean to honor thy father and thy mother? Well, this Commandment is presented to us first in the Old Testament, then in the New. You are familiar with the fact that the Old Testament is written in Hebrew and the New Testament is written in Greek, and the word “honor” in each language sheds some light as to the meaning of this Commandment.

In the Hebrew, the word which is translated “honor” is a word that you might literally translate “attach some weight to.” We all know what that means. There are certain people who say things, and we pay absolutely no attention to them. We don't attach any significance at all to what they say. They are running off at the mouth all the time, so there is no point in listening. But there are other people who speak, and we attach weight to what they say. That is the real meaning of the word “honor”: to attach weight or significance to our father and to our mother.

The Greek word which is translated “honor” has a slightly different meaning, yet it is related. It is timao , which means “to place a great value upon.” If one is to honor his father and his mother, he is going to place a great value upon them. That is basic for the fulfillment of this Commandment.

Responsibility of Parents

We are going to be noticing, as I suggested to you in the beginning of our discussion, that the responsibility for the fulfillment of the Commandment lies not with the child, but with the parents. Children cannot be expected automatically to honor their father and their mother. That is something they must be taught. Therefore parents have a real responsibility so to live before their children that when they speak, their children will attach some significance to what they say.

Let me give you a very concrete illustration of what I mean by this. I have been in homes and have heard parents say to their children who were busy doing something they didn't want them to do, “Stop that.” They go on talking, and the child goes right on doing the thing he has been doing all along. They keep on talking, and then they notice the child hasn't stopped. “You had better stop that,” and they go right on talking. Well, it doesn't take very long for the child to realize that he does not need to attach any real significance to what his parents say. You have heard the proverbial story of the child who is called by his mother, and another little fellow says to him. “Your mother is calling you,” and he says, “I don't have to go yet. She has called only three times.”

You see, we have a responsibility. We must so live that they will attach some significance to what we say. If we can get across to children, in teaching them to honor father and mother, that we are of value, and that they should set great store by us, place a great value upon us, it will not be difficult for them to learn the lesson of honoring father and mother. Otherwise, how can you expect them to learn it?

The Head of the Home

I would like for you to notice something else. I hope you won't think I am making too much of it, but I believe the Word of God teaches what I am going t o suggest to you. I do not believe it is any accident that this Commandment is stated in the way it is stated. It does not say, “Honor parents.” It does not say, “Obey your mother.” It says, “Honor your father and your mother,” and that is divine order. One of the reasons why this Commandment is difficult of obedience is that that order is ignored.

At the risk of repetition for some of you, but for the benefit of others, I trust, I would like to ask you to turn to I Corinthians, chapter 11, and notice the principle upon which this Commandment is based. I am going to suggest to you that the teaching of our children to obey this Commandment will be exceedingly difficult unless this order is observed, for it is ordained of God:

I Corinthians 11

3But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

The head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man, the head of Christ is God. Those of you who are familiar with ethnic relations will know that there are two kinds of societies in different parts of our world. There are what we refer to as matriarchal societies and patriarchal societies. A matriarchal society is one in which the woman is the head of the family. Everything is done as she wishes.

The society which God has ordained is a patriarchal society. He has placed the husband, the father, at the head of the family; that is the reason why He said, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” It is only as wives and mothers honor husbands and fathers that this principle can be instilled in the hearts of children. No individual woman who fails to take the proper place that God has ordained for a woman in the family can expect her children to do any better by their father than she has done by her husband.

That is the reason why quite often this problem develops in Christian homes. All too often the Christian home is not based upon the principle which God has ordained, and although there is much praying, and although there is much pleading with God to cause the children to be the kind of children they ought to be, this particular order is ignored, and the blessing of God is restricted.

Cooperation Between Parents

Although the emphasis in I Corinthians 11 is placed on the divine order which we have just suggested, it does not intimate that the husband lords it over the rest of the family. If you will look at verse 11, the relationship is properly described:

I Corinthians 11

11Nevertheless [although God has made the man the head] neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

In any Christian home, the happy situation which will make a fertile ground in which to plant the seed of honoring father and mother is that situation where the father and the mother stand as one in relation to the disciplining of their children. That is the reason why it is “Honor thy father” first, yes, but “Honor thy father and thy mother.” The two are one in relation to this about which we are speaking.

Will you turn, please, to the Epistle of Peter, that you may notice with me how terribly important this thing is:

I Peter 3

1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

Responsibility of the Husband

There is a paragraph discussing the manner in which the adornment of the heart is necessary, with examples from the Old Testament along this line, and then in verse 7:

I Peter 3

7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I say to husbands who are here that a great many times husbands talk loud and long about their wives not giving them the proper respect and not taking the place that wives ought to take in the home. The wives might find it much easier to do if we, who are husbands, would dwell with our wives according to knowledge. I sometimes wish that I could take time out, and I say this humbly, to write a book of the relationship between husbands and wives, because the blame should be placed in the right place. I have seen a great many broken homes that could have been saved if the husband had taken time to dwell with his wife according to knowledge, had taken time to study the needs of his wife and acted accordingly, giving honor unto the wife as the weaker vessel.

Hindered Prayers

And notice, for this is particularly important: “being heirs together of the grace of life.” That is the happy situation in a home: heirs together–not one here and one there, but heirs together. Will you notice the tremendous import: “That your prayers be not hindered.” We must realize that we may pray loud and long for our children, but if we as parents are not dwelling together as heirs together of the grace of life, our prayers even for our children can be hindered.

Oh, I don't want to leave you hopeless, and I don't want to tell you that a husband left without his wife cannot raise his children for the Lord, and I don't want to tell you that a wife left without her husband cannot raise her children for the Lord. But I do want to tell you that if the two of them are together, and they are not dwelling together in the manner which the Word of God describes, their prayers are going to be hindered. A great many times we look afar for a solution for a problem when it lies within our own home and within our own heart.

Teaching By Example

I have not gone afield, really, All of this is to emphasize what we are talking about when we talk about honoring our fathers and mothers. Our children will never learn the meaning of honor unless the wife honors the husband and the husband honors the wife, in the manner which the Word of God suggest. There are a great many homes that are marked by bickering, by arguments, by questionings and accusations, in the hearing of the children. How can you expect children to honor father if mother doesn't have any confidence in him? How can you expect children to honor mother if father doesn't have any confidence in her? Do you see the need for being “heirs together of the grace of life”? Do you see the reason why I suggest to you that the responsibility for the fulfillment of this Commandment lies not upon the children, but upon the parents?

Will you turn with me, please, to Ephesians, chapter 6, as we look further at the word “honor” in this Fifth Commandment. I said to you that the matter of honoring parents is much deeper than mere “obedience,” but it does not rule out obedience. As a matter of fact, there can be no honor where there is no obedience. That is the reason why the Holy Spirit says:

Ephesians 6

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Obeying Because It is Right

Let us notice together the first reason why children should obey their parents: because it is right. If you are a follower of modern child psychology, which suggests that no kind of discipline is proper, for fear it will curb the will and disturb the spirit of the child, you are doing what is wrong, not what is right. The Word of God says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” We as parents have failed, and failed miserably, if we have not taught our children to obey us from the standpoint that it is right. If children ask “Why?” in relation to certain acts of obedience, I hope you have presence of mind enough to sit down with them and give them a logical explanation of why you ask them to do what you ask them to do. You will notice I said “logical.” By that I mean an explanation which they can comprehend. And then you should emphasize to them that, beside all the other reasons, the reason they are to obey is that it is right. No ifs and ands about it; it is right.

Obeying In Order to Please the Lord

You will notice in chapter 3, verse 20, of Colossians another reason why children must be taught to obey their parents:

Colossians 3

20Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

Notice the last part of that verse. Why should we teach our children to obey us? First, because it is right, and second, because they will be displeasing to the Lord if they don't. I believe that parents should get across to their children the realization that it is not just a matter of disobeying parents; it is a matter of displeasing the Lord. I have sometimes heard parents say to their children–and I personally think it is a very grievous thing to say–“Don't do so and so. You'd better never let me hear that you have done that.” Well, Beloved, it is wrong whether you ever hear of it or not. You can implant in the hearts and the lives of children the impression that so long as Mother and Dad don't hear about it, it is all right to do it. It isn't; it is displeasing to the Lord.

Sometimes I have heard parents say to their children, “As long as you live under my roof you are not going to do such and such a thing.” That is wrong. Your children are not to obey you simply because they live under your roof. Your children are to obey you because it is right and because it pleases the Lord. If the request for obedience concerns something that is right, it is right whether they live under your roof or not. If it concerns something that displeases the Lord, it displeases the Lord whether they live under your roof or not.

Two reasons, then, why we should teach our children to honor their fathers and mothers in obedience: because it is right, and because it is well-pleasing to the Lord.

Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath

May I say again even at the risk of repetition that parents have a responsibility in this regard. There is a way to teach our children obedience, and there is a way not to teach our children obedience, and the Spirit of God takes that into consideration. If you will look again at the Ephesian letter, chapter 6, you will notice the admonition which the Apostle offers the parents:

Ephesians 6

4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

I believe that it is possible to insist on obedience in such a way that you provoke your children to wrath, and that is wrong. Now, of course it is wise for us to remember that no matter how much we love our children, and no matter how much we have tried to train them, they still have Adam's hearts in them. They still have a human nature in them. You know what your heart is like, don't you? You don't like to be told what to do, do you? Is all the rebellion gone out of your heart? You never rebel at anything? I make mention of this because there may be a spirit of rebellion at any command; and you may say, “Well, I can't tell them to do that because I don't want them to rebel.” But when the Apostle talks here about provoking children to wrath, he is talking about needless provocation. There is often needless provocation of their children on the part of parents.

Provoking Which Brings Discouragement

Will you turn to the Colossian letter, chapter 3, verse 21, and notice this truth emphasized in just a little different way:

Colossians 3

21Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged.

I have left out the words “to anger” because they are not in the original text. It is possible to provoke your children not to anger only; it is possible to provoke your children to discourageement. It is possible for parents to be so demanding of their children in one respect and so lacking in praise in another respect that their children are driven to discouragement. They can say, “What is the use? Nothing I do pleases them; no matter what I do, no matter what I try to do, it is never right.” You see the responsibility we as parents have? So often we talk about disobedient children; I wonder if we ought not to spend some of our time talking about delinquent parents? Delinquent, not in the sense that they are carousing around, but delinquent in the sense that they have not taken the time to study their children for the purpose of training them in the manner in which God would have them trained.

Will you turn with me, please, to the book of Proverbs, chapter 22, because merely to cause your children to memorize this Fifth Commandment, and hope that they will honor father and mother, is not going to be sufficient. It is much more detailed than that. I would say to you that rearing children is a full time job. You don't need a hobby if you have children to rear:

Proverbs 22

6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Training a Child According to His Bent

I have heard this used as a text many many times, and for many many years, and every sermon I ever heard on it was to this effect: “Take your child to Church and to Sunday School when he is little, and train him up the way he ought to go; of course he will have to sow some wild oats, he will have to drink a little, he will have to cuss a little, he will have to be adulterous a little, etc., etc., but he will come back before he dies if you have trained him right.”

Even before I had any children, that did not sound very good to me. What hope is there in a verse like that? If your children have to be good just because they are with you, and then as soon as they get out on their own, they have their fling, and then when they decide to settle down and have children of their own, they go back to Church and Sunday School, what promise is there in that? Not very much. I began to study this verse and to ask God to give me wisdom and understanding. I believe that if a careful study of the verse is made, several things will be revealed about it that may help you to understand what it means to honor your father and your mother, and so to train your children.

“Train up a child in the way he should go” is literally in the Hebrew, “Train a child according to his individual bent.” If you have had any experience with children, you will know that you can speak to one of your children, and he will just look at you. You speak that very same way to another child and he will break into tears. You cannot understand why, until you become more experienced. Chidren are different. You train them according to their individual bent. Find them out. Take some time to study them. Oh, I don't think you need to study psychology. I have discovered that most remarks on child psychology are made by people who have not had any experience with children. There are some exceptions to that, but for the most part it is true. Study your child.

One of the ideas that the Devil is promulgating today is that your child has to do a certain thing because everybody else is doing it. It does not matter about anybody else's child; you learn your child, and train up your child according to his individual bent.

God's Plan for Every Child

I would like to add something else here because I think it is very important. Psalm 139 tells us that God has a plan for every child that is born into the world. I think that if we would spend a little time seeking the mind of God as to what His plan is for each individual child, the training might be different. Why should we wait until a young man is twenty years of age and then say to him, “What do you plan to do with your life?”

Did you ever try to twist a bone out of joint? It is painful. I say this kindly, but I am afraid that a great many parents are twisting bones out of joint in the training of their children, and that is the reason why there is rebellion. That is the reason why there is heartache. Train up a child according to his individual bent.

Prepared for Fellowship With God

Notice the last part of this verse: “When he is old, he will not depart from it.” He will not depart from that training when he is old. As I said, all the sermons I have heard on that were to the effect that when he is an old man and can't do anything anyway, he will come back to what you have always told him. But the word “old” does not refer to age in years. The word “old” refers to maturity. When he becomes mature, he won't depart from the training he has had. I am talking about fellowship. There is a vast difference between fellowship and training. It is possible for your children to live perfectly on the outside in the manner in which you have trained them, and on the inside be out of fellowship with God. It is possible for you or me or anybody else to be out of fellowship with the Lord. But I will tell you this: If you will spend your time studying your child so that you might train him according to his individual bent, it will be easier for him to stay in fellowship with God; there won't be all of those things that pull and make it difficult for him to stay in fellowship with the Lord.

What I have been trying to emphasize to you is that the responsibility for the observance of this Commandment lies not upon a child, but upon the parents. It is not enough to say that the Bible says honor your father and mother. The training is our responsibility.

Honoring Father and Mother Throughout Life

Now, we have talked about honoring father and mother. We have talked about obeying. I want you to notice with me one other thing that is related to honoring father and mother. This is something that grieves my heart because I see the results of the lack of this kind of training almost every day.

Will you turn with me, please, to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 15. The responsibility of parents does not end when the child reaches the age of maturity. I don't know exactly why, but there seems to be a feeling in our country today that we should teach our children to obey us, to honor us, and to respect us until they reach their own age, whatever that age is, and then they are under no more obligation of any description. That idea is not new. It existed in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he said something about it:

Matthew 15

1Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Let's pause just a moment. The Lord Jesus Christ is combining Exodus 20:12 and Exodus 21:6 in one commandment: “Honor thy father and mother,” and “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”

Matthew 15

5But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Let me paraphrase this passage of Scripture for you. There were problems with old folk in Jesus' day just as there are today. Mothers and fathers were neglected then as they are now. One of the things that grieves me much in my ministry is to see old folks whose children are too busy to have anything to do with them, too busy to take care of them. I am not talking about those cases when you have to have extra help in order to preserve your own strength so that you can do the things that need to be done for them. I am talking about eliberate neglect.

The reasons for that neglect are just about as foolish as this one. Here were some parents who were in actual need, physical need, material need. They were going hungry, and they would go to their children and ask for food, for clothing, for shelter; and do you know what their children would say? “All the money I have, I have given to the Temple. I would love to do something for you, but I have given it all to God and I don't have anything to help you with.” They would neglect the needs of their old parents on the basis of the fact that they had given something to God. The Lord Jesus Christ said that in so doing they were violating the commandment of God to observe the tradition of men. Actually, what they were doing was using their pretended religious interest as an excuse for neglect.

Christian Treatment of Others

Will you notice the positive side of this question in I Timothy, chapter 5, where the Apostle is dealing with the very same thing:

I Timothy 5

1Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
3Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Notice the word “requite.” If this Fifth Commandment is to be obeyed, we must teach our children to honor, we must teach our children to obey, and we must teach our children to requite, their parents. This word “requite” very literally means “to pay them back.”

Teaching Children Their Responsibilities

I we as parents discharge our responsibilities in the observance of this Commandment, it is necessary for us to teach our children that their responsibilities to their parents do not end when they have reached the age of maturity; they continue. Children have a responsibility to requite their parents, and in this particular instance it is related to material needs.

Verse 8 is applicable to the relationship of children to parents. I have heard this verse used as a verse to encourage the purchasing of insurance, and I suppose in a sense the application might be there. But the interpretation is related to the responsibility of children to parents, in the old age of the parent. This passage of Scripture says:

I Timothy 5

8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I believe that a lot of children are going to have to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account for the way they have treated their old parents in leaving them to die in lonelinesss and neglect. That is what this passage of Scripture says. It isn't pleasing to the Lord, and that which is not pleasing to the Lord, God is going to deal with. We are not blaming children in the discussion of this Commandment; we are talking to parents.

I am going to say now, humbly, remembering that I have seven children of my own, that if our children do not turn out right, using that term from a spiritual standpoint, I don't think we should blame them. I think we should re-examine our own hearts, and see wherein we have failed.

Shall we bow our heads together for prayer:

Our Father, we are grateful for this time in the Word. We pray that Thou would remove all the chaff that may have crept into our discussion, and grant that only that which is worthwhile may be remembered. For we pray in Jesus' name and for His sake. Amen.

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