By Heather Hatch
God’s Word presents us with ideas which are great for setting up useful boundaries for living, but they often come with a level of confusion. The following two passages of scripture dive into the topics of honor and obedience, and at first glance they might appear to contradict themselves.
Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” —Ephesians 6:1 (MSG)
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. —Matthew 10:34-37 (ESV)
What??? How do we honor our family by being prepared to literally sever all ties with them?
Honor and obedience are not contradictory; rather they are two different things. We can honor a parent, teacher, friend or a stranger. Honoring someone has a lot to do with how we treat them as a human being. It is also easy to see how being kind and showing respect to others can be a basic advantage in life.
The rub is in obedience. When are we required to obey a parent, teacher or stranger? We are required to obey a parent, teacher or stranger only when they are leading within the sovereignty of our Heavenly Father. Only God is right all the time. Parents, teachers and strangers are only right when what they ask of us lines up with God’s Word.
Looking back at the previously mentioned scripture we can see how it is possible to honor a parent and at the same time not be in accord with their thinking if it does not honor God. We can disagree but still honor others by being courteous and respectful.
This is especially important as we teach our children about dealing with other people. A teacher may not share a student’s belief in God, but respect is vital to honoring them, which in turn is a benefit to the student.
We are required to honor people; but obedience to others must first be filtered through obedience to our Heavenly Father.
Suggested Intentional Living Broadcast
Do you talk to your kids about honoring their parents, teachers and elders? Do they know the difference between honoring someone and being obedient? We’d love to hear from you. Post your comments below.