Summary: Fifth Commandment: Attitudes Toward Authority

Honor Guard


Speeder Finagles Way Out of Ticket

A police officer pulled a man over for speeding and asked to see his driver’s license

Calmly, the driver responded: I don’t have one. I had it suspended when I got my fifth DUI.

Officer: May I see your registration?

Driver: It’s not my car. I stole it.

Officer: The car is stolen?

Driver: Yeah – But, now that you mention it, I think I did see the registration in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there.

Officer: There’s a gun in the glove box?

Driver: Yes, sir. I put it there after I killed the lady who owns this car and stuffed her in the trunk.

Officer: There’s a BODY in the TRUNK?!?!?

Driver: Yes, sir.

Hearing this, the officer immediately called his captain. The car was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the driver:

Captain: Sir, can I see your license?

Driver: Sure. Here it is.

It was valid.

Captain: Who’s car is this?

Driver: It’s mine, officer. Here’s the registration.

Captain: Could you slowly open your glove box so I can see if there’s a gun in it?

Driver: Yes, sir, but there’s no gun in it.

Sure enough, there was nothing in the glove box.

Captain: Would you mind opening your trunk? I was told there’s a body in it.

Driver: No problem.

The trunk was opened; no body.

Captain: I don’t understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn’t have a license, stole the car, had a gun in the glovebox, and that there was a dead body in the trunk.

Driver: No kidding? I’ll bet he told you I was speeding, too.


That story actually has NOTHING to do with today’s sermon, but I just really wanted to tell it!

But seriously… what makes the story funny is that the driver is able, through a series of outrageous lies to completely discredit the integrity – and the authority – of a police officer. And in a culture where authority is often seen as something to be fought tooth and nail, the driver is a hero.

Today we are looking at the fifth commandment: Honor your father & mother.

It’s interesting to me that there is nothing in the 10 Commandments about “respecting your elders” – in general

There’s nothing about “honoring political or civic leaders,” (although we are told to do so elsewhere in scripture).

There’s nothing about honoring the king or the president or your boss.

In fact, the 10 Commandments don’t even say, specifically, “Respect God’s authority.”

But it does tell us to honor our parents.

Why did God tell us to honor our parents, but not all these other forms of legitimate authority?

Because if children honor & respect their parents, they invariably show honor & respect to their teachers, to police officers, to elected officials, to their bosses, and so on.

There have probably been millions of research dollars that were spent to discover that principle, but God knew it all along.

I believe that even though this verse only talks about honoring our parents, that it is intended by God as a command to honor and respect all legitimate authority.

Author Oscar Wilde died over 100 years ago, he summed up the spirit of our own time when he said:

"Disobedience … is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion."

We live in a society that admires disobedience and rebellion.

If you don’t believe me, put a notepad in your living room or whereever you watch TV.

Take notes on how advertisements (and most TV programs, really) portray authority figures

With few exceptions: Parents are clueless morons

Teachers are about the same.

For the most part, we don’t really care for authority figures in this country.

We value independence – and we resent having anybody tell us what to do.

Even as I’ve been thinking about and praying about and preparing for this message, I’ve realized that this dislike of authority is lodged pretty deeply in me, too.

Today is Father’s Day – a day dedicated to honoring our fathers – and it seems like it’s an appropriate time to consider what it means for us to obey this command to honor our parents.

First Commandment with a Promise

In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul offers these wrods on the 5th commanment.

NIV Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"-- which is the first commandment with a promise-- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

“Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment with a promise.

The promise as it’s stated here is: “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth”

We hear that and think, “Oh, if we honor our parents, we’ll live to be really old?”

But that isn’t really what is being taught here.

Which is a good thing because we’ve probably known lots of people who were respectful to their parents, but didn’t live to a ripe old age.

The promise that was made to the people of Israel was not that if they obeyed their parents, they wouldn’t die young.

The promise was “so that you [that is THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL] may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.

Remember that we are reading from the book of Exodus.

The people of Israel had been brought OUT OF Egypt, but they had not yet entered the Promised Land.

which of course was “the land God was giving to them.”

Throughout the Scriptures, it’s made clear that in order for Israel to “live long in the land,” they had to be faithful and obedient to GOD

If you know anything about what is going on in the nation of Israel right now, you begin to have an inkling of how important “the LAND” is to the people in that region – the the Israelis as well as the Palestinians.

(You may even have heard news commentators refer to the major newspaper in Israel, which is calle “Ha-erez” which means “THE LAND.”)

I am not going to read them, but if you were to look through the Scriptures, you would find DOZENS of passages that Promise the people of Israel that if they are FAITHFUL to God – if they OBEY Him and TRUST Him, then they will keep their precious land.

SO what’s the point?

The fifth commandment says, “Honor your parents and you’ll get to stay in the land God gave you.”

And the Scriptures also are filled with verses like these from Psalm 37

3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

9 … those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Honoring our parents and honoring God are powerfully linked.

And if we do not learn to do the first: to honor our parents, we will never learn to do the second.

It is easy to say we honor God – because frankly, he’s invisible!

It is more difficult to honor our parents – especially when we are in the same room with them.

Some of us may not have had the best parents.

And God’s word does not tell us to OBEY our parents if they are telling us to DISobey a SPECIFIC command of Scripture.

But we can discover ways to honor them, to give them respect, even if they were not the best examples.

It’s interesting that in Ephesians 6, Paul adds something to the command “Honor your parents.”

Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord

Parents have an awesome responsibility.

It’s not just that you should “Be nice to your kids because they’re the ones who will pick your nursing home.”

Research shows that– unless we work really hard to get a more accurate view of God – we invariably see God as being like our fathers (or whoever was the prime authority figure in our lives as children.)

That means that parents – and ESPECIALLY FATHERS have been given the task of shaping their child’s view of God

It is done in part by what you teach them

And even more by what they see in your character.

It’s great to teach your kids to play sports or to change a tire or balance a checkbook.

They need you for those things.

But parents are responsible for teaching their children WHO GOD IS and HOW THEY SHOULD RELATE TO HIM.

Partly that can be accomplished through bringing them to church, to gettting them to Sunday School

But if you are not teaching them AND MODELING FOR THEM faithfulness to God, it’s not going to happen.

It seems that often parents make an assumption that their children will be about as faithful to God and will know about as much about God and the Bible as they do

And that seems like it’s probably enough.

The reality is, your children probably know LOTS LESS than you do about God and the Bible.

You might want to do a little survey today

Can your kids say the Lord’s Prayer from memory?

What do they know about Jesus?

What stories do they know from the Bible?

And they’re going to be LESS faithful than YOU ARE in attending church.

A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72 percent of their children remain faithful in attendance.

If only Dad attends regularly, 55 percent remain faithful.

If only Mom attends regularly, 15 percent remain faithful.

If neither attend regularly, only 6 percent remain faithful. -- Warren Mueller, Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 3.

Parents, your PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY as parents is to:

bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord

If you don’t know where to start with that, the first place is to demonstrate to your kids that “the training and instruction of the Lord” is a worthwhile pursuit.

Because, “more is caught than taught”


Nearly all parents of children under the age of 13 – 96% – contend that they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children values. Just 1% said their church has that task and 1% assigned that role to the child’s school.

Related research, however, revealed that a majority of parents do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children.

Dick & Sandy

When I was in High School I had the opportunity to get to know a young couple, named Dick & Sandy Marks, who worked with the youth group I was involved with. I thought they were just about the best people in the world. Dick was the director of our local YMCA & was just about the kindest, gentlest man I’d ever known. Which is why it surprised me a bit when he said one day that he didn’t believe in always giving his children a reason for what he did – even for the rules that affected them. I thought that was terrible! I assumed that if you were a REALLY GOOD parent, you would ALWAYS explain the rules to your children.

He continued to shock me as he went on to say: “The reason I don’t always give them an explanation is because they need to learn to obey me just because I’m their father.” I was apalled! I couldn’t imagine why a man who SEEMED so NICE! So FAIR! So loving! So reasonable would say such things.

But then Dick followed up by saying, “God doesn’t always explain things to us. And when the boys get older, there will come a day when they will have to obey God just because He’s their father.”

It kind of made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up – but I knew it was true. God DOESN’T always explain things. We have to trust him.

As a loving father, Dick was teaching his children to trust their heavenly Father, whether or not He gave them an explanation.