Summary: The importance of honoring the biblical family structure

Series: Big 10


EXODUS 20:12


Jake and Willie – at least that would probably be what we would call them today – are some of the most famous story tellers from the 19th century. I’m talking about Jacob and Wilhelm – the Brothers Grimm. They were scholars. They studied law and wrote books about the German language. But we know them best for their stories: Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Many of those stories are famous. Disney has done movies based on some of them. One short story that’s not so well-known is called The Old Grandfather and His Grandson.

The story goes like this:

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his

knees trembled, and when he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth

upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son's wife were disgusted

at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave

him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look

towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold

the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said

nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden trough for a few half-pence, out

of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather

together some bits of wood upon the ground. “What are you doing there?” asked the father.

“I am making a little trough,” answered the child, “for father and mother to eat out of when I

am big.”

This morning, we resume our series called Big 10. We’re going through the 10 Commandments. It’s time for the fifth commandment and a message called “The Family Plan.”

Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Before we go any further, I want to acknowledge that obeying this command might be difficult for some of us. It seems to describe a family situation some of us never experienced. How do you obey this commandment if you are from a broken home? If your parents abused you? If you and your parents don’t get along?

As we move forward this morning, I want us to make two important observations. The first observation is that since this commandment comes from God, there must be a way to obey it no matter how difficult or painful it may be. And the second observation is that since God has our best interests at heart, obedience must be in our own best interest. It is in that spirit that we approach the Fifth Commandment.

If you’re struggling in this area, please don’t check out on me. Don’t dismiss this message as being irrelevant to your situation. Pay close attention. There are important principles that will help you as you struggle and also help you to be a better parent yourself.

You might be struggling as a parent today with children who don’t follow this command. You, too, listen closely. You have to teach your children how to show respect for you. Maybe something that’s said this morning will help you develop a stronger relationship with your children.

There are a couple of differences in this command as opposed to the first three commands. The first difference is that it is one of only two of the ten commands that are stated in the positive rather than the negative. The first three say “you shall not – have any other gods, make images to worship, misuse the name of God.” Commandments four and five have an implied “you shall” inherent in their instruction. “You shall – remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy and honor your father and mother.” That’s the first difference.

The second difference is that it shifts the focus of the commandments from how we respect God to how we respect others. The command that links these two concepts concerns honoring our parents. Rubel Shelly, Written in Stone: “At the pivot point between the obligations of loving God and loving one’s neighbor stands the commandment about family integrity.”

As we consider the implications of this command, we need to spend some time on some important issues. However, the emphasis of this message is on practical application of this commandment.


This command means much more than just obedience to your parents, although that is included in the implications of this command. Obedience to parents goes through certain changes in the life cycle but honor never changes.

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