Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Welcome to Badge of Honor Family Ministry and Presentations. Since this is a ministry that honors the family and with Father’s Day fast approaching, I’d like to talk about what the Bible says about honoring dad. I'd also like to tell you about a gift that you can give dad that will not only honor him on Father’s Day but will keep giving for years to come. It's called The Tribute.
The 10 Commandments
We’re going to start by looking in Exodus 20 at the Ten Commandments. You’ll notice that they’re not called the 10 Suggestions. So, we need to take them to heart. When you read them, you’ll observe the first 4 commands talk specifically about honoring God. In all we do and in all of our relationships, honoring God comes first and is most important.
The ‘Greatest Commandment’ which is the ten boiled down to two, says to love God and then love people. By loving God first, He can give us the wisdom, knowledge and power to love others.
The first 4 are. . .
*Worship God only.
*Do not not worship false gods.
*Do not take God’s name in vain and
*Keep the Sabbath Day holy.
Most people know the last 5 commandments; don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, lie and/or covet. But right in the middle at number 5, right after his 4 about God and before He goes through those last 5, He tells us to honor our father and our mother and that it comes with a promise. Little is said about the 5th Commandment and some consider it to be the ‘forgotten commandment’.
In today’s society, instead of honoring our parents, many bash and blame their parents for their faults and failures. A number of today’s popular TV shows portray parents in an unfavorable manner. Our parents can become a landfill where we dump our failures and mess-ups if we’re not careful.
5th Commandment Most Profound
I believe that because of where God placed this commandment, He is showing us its importance. It’s as if God bolded it, underlined it, highlighted it and put an exclamation point at the end of it. It may be the most profound commandment of the 10. Here’s what it says. . “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
In Ephesians 6:1-3, Paul restates the importance of honoring mom and dad. He said “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
What Paul is saying is that of the Ten Commandments, the fifth is the only one which comes with a positive ending; the assurance of a blessed long life. Even though the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses to the Israelites, they apply to everyone. Children who disrespect their parents will usually have a harder life. Learning to respect authority is key to personal success.
As children, we feel our parents need to show honor to us but our parents need to be honored as well. The promise goes 2 ways. That means the benefits of the 5th Commandment goes to us as well as our parents. Honor can give parents the hope they need when they need it the most. Most of us do not understand the power we have to bring joy and happiness to our parents lives.
'The Tribute' by Dennis Rainey
In his book ‘The Tribute’, Dennis Rainey says the the 5th Commandment has a number of other hidden benefits.
*Our quality of life may be tied to the 5th Commandment.
*It helps us become healthy adults.
*It moves us toward Spiritual Maturity.
*It forges a deeper relationship with our parents.
*Our parents are waiting for us to give back.
*Our parents need affirmation too.
*Our parents are waiting to be honored and shown dignity.
*Our legacy is tied to honoring our parents.
*It pleases God.
*It could mean the survival of our nation.
So what does ‘Honor’ mean? It means to respect greatly; regard highly; and to esteem. So, the 5th Commandment is asking us to respect, regard and to esteem our mom and our dad.
Sometimes, it can be hard to show respect, regard highly or esteem a parent. It feels like respect, regard and esteem needs to be earned. When we read Commandment #5, it doesn’t say anything about honoring your parents if they were perfect or they did everything right. It simply says that we need to honor them. To get to that point, you may need to learn how to forgive them.
My Dad Growing Up
I’d like to tell you about my dad growing up. As a kid, I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. No matter what I did, my dad rarely affirmed me. He would constantly take negative withdrawals from my emotional bank account and seldom gave me a positive deposit. It seemed like he always criticized me.
My mom would have me go in the garage to help my dad work on the family car. I would dread it. He would ask me to get him a screwdriver or some tool but it never seemed like I could ever find the right one for him. It got to the point that I didn’t like to be around him.
Not only that, my dad had sexually explicit books in our bathroom and had pornographic pictures hanging in our shed. It made it very easy for me to access.
I’m the regional director of an organization called The Men of Honor. This program teaches biblical character and moral leadership to teenage boys. We recite our Axioms at the beginning and end of each of our meetings as our creed. Part of it says “manhood and christlikeness are synonymous.”
As a young boy trying to figure out my manhood I thought manhood and porn was synonymous. It also says that “being a male is a matter of birth but being a man was a matter of choice”. I thought that being a man was a matter of looking at porn.
What I was introduced to as a young boy, has become a constant battlefield of the mind for me. Imagine if my dad, instead of introducing to porn, had given me a Father’s blessing and encouraged me to guard my heart, eyes and mind like the bible says? I doubt that I would have the struggle that I have today.
My dad didn’t really believe in Jesus either. What he did believe was going to church was a waste of time. He thought doing this, what I’m doing today with you, sharing this message with you, is dumb. I pray that you don’t feel that this has been a waste of your time or dumb!
He couldn’t see why I liked to go to church or grow in my faith. He’d even make cutting remarks about it from time to time. Have you ever have someone close to you like your own dad make cutting remarks about you or your faith? It can really hurt.
Swore Like a Drunken Sailor
He swore like a drunken sailor and he would make inappropriate sexual remarks around my wife and young girls. I loved my dad but was embarrassed to have my family around him. Any of you have a dad like that?
Like I said, it can be hard to show honor to a parent, if respect, regard and esteem hasn’t been returned to us. A wall can be built between you and your parent. But here’s the questions. Did God say to honor your parents only if they were faultless? No! There are no perfect parents.
Honoring does not endorse irresponsibility or sin either. But it does commands that we honor no matter what. We are to honor regardless of performance. We are to live by faith. Our negative emotions can hold back any positive thoughts however. Writing a tribute could help us tear down any walls that have been built.
The Principle of Release
So, what does the bible say about how we should respond when someone wrongs us (like a parent) or anyone for that matter? I love this verse from John 20: 22-23. It tells us to “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
What God is saying here is that when you choose to forgive someone who has wronged you, you actually release the sins of those who hurt you. This is powerful principal. It’s called the ‘Principal of Release’.
But here’s the catch, God also says that if you choose not to forgive someone who has wronged you, you retain those sins. Someone once said, “Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”
Let me give you an example: Let’s say a parent, friend or family member said something that hurt your feelings or did something that hurt you. You know, it really made you mad. You are ticked! You're livid! You're steamed! You can’t believe what they said or did to you that hurt you so much. You keep dwelling on it over and over in your mind. You can’t sleep at night because of what they said. You're furious. You're so stinking mad right now, you could spit.
Now, who is your un-forgiveness hurting? You or the person who hurt you? The other person probably doesn’t even realize that you're upset. According to Bible, when you don’t forgive, you actually retain the venomous poison of that person’s sin. In other words, choosing un-forgiveness can be deadly.
That’s why Jesus said at the beginning of that verse that we need to “Receive the the Holy Spirit.” Why? Because forgiveness can be hard. We can’t do it under our own human strength. We need the Holy Spirit’s power, grace, truth and mercy to forgive. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”
So, even if your parents have hurt you, God is in the business of reconciliation. Healing can occur. Writing a tribute could be the answer. No guarantees though.
It is a Choice
But, we have a choice to make. We can choose to get bitter or we can choose to get better. We can choose to blame our parents for what they did or we could choose to move forward by forgiving them. I’d encourage you to choose to forgive and release the venomous toxins that those sins hold.
Forgiveness can go both ways. Many times, we, the children need to ask for forgiveness for the hurts we’ve caused our parents. Sometimes, we hurt our parents just as they might have hurt us. As children, our nature can be self-centered. It’s all about me. We need to take responsibility and ask for forgiveness. Have faith that God will use your faithfulness for good and tear down any walls that might have been built up over the years.
As we grow through our teen years and into adulthood, we sometimes start to see our parents in a different light. After getting married and starting my own family, I came to a realization that dad wasn’t so bad. He did the best he could with the bits of wisdom that he had - just like me. Kids don’t come with an Owner’s Manual and being a parent can be hard.
Now, back to my dad……Father’s Day was coming up and I was trying to figure out what I could do to let him know how much I appreciated him. I had listened to a broadcast on christian radio one day. The speaker, Dennis Rainey from Family Life Today talked about his book ‘The Tribute’ and how to write a tribute to your mom for Mother’s Day or your dad for Father’s Day. I bought the book and read it. After reading it, I decided to write a tribute to my dad.
In the book, Dennis said you need to give your parents 3 gifts when you honor them. Gift Number One is the gift of understanding. We need to understand that no parent is perfect. Gift Number Two is the gift of compassion. In other words, we need to realize that it’s not easy being a parent. Gift Number Three is the gift of forgiveness. You can apply the Principle of Release from John 20: 22-23 to this one.
He also said that honoring parents acknowledges that you
*value and desire to improve your relationship with them.
*respect and recognize their authority;
*affirm what our parents did right and their sacrifice;
*see them through the eyes of Christ;
*forgive them and release any sins, hurts or regrets.
*pass on lessons learned which become part of our legacy.
A written document like The Tribute can carry special power. Dennis says it can be an island of intimate appreciation in a sea of form letters, emails, texts, and impersonal communication. There is something special about a Tribute.
When writing a Tribute, be sure to speak from your heart. Dennis suggests some guidelines for you to use.
Prepare your heart before you share your heart. Get alone and pray.
Create a memory list of fun times, favorite vacations, holidays, pets, etc.
Organize your thoughts.
Write your Tribute. You could write a tribute for each parent or one tribute for both. Start with a sentence telling why you wrote it. After that, write each thought into a sentence or paragraph. After you write the first draft, have someone else read it. When you finish, have it printed on some nice print paper.
Mat and frame your tribute. Doing this adds weight and value to your words.
Present it to your parents. People love to be praised and a tribute can take on a life of its own. You could read it aloud at family gatherings like holidays, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. You could do it publicly or privately. Consider presenting it with your children listening. It’s a great way to model how to leave a lasting legacy.
I took a legal pad and started to remember and write down all the good things that dad had done. I then typed it out on my computer. I then printed it on some nice quality print paper and had it professionally framed and matted. I wrapped it and presented it on Father’s Day many years ago.
When he opened it, I explained what it was and that I wanted to read it to him. I actually had to work through my emotions to do this. It wasn’t easy but I do believe God did honor my faithfulness to obey and follow his command to honor my dad even if things weren’t the greatest. I read through it through many tears. I think dad might have shed a tear or two too, but tried not to show it. You can read it at 'Honoring Dad-The Tribute: Part 2.'
To read my tribute to my dad, go to 'Honoring Dad-The Tribute: Part 2' by clicking 'Here'.