The Breaking Point

Bible Book: Exodus  20 : 12
Subject: Ten Commandments; Family; Children; Parenting
Series: Ten Commandments - God's Way, The Right Way

The Breaking Point - Commandment 5

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Exodus 20:12

We come now to the fifth Commandment. This is part of a series of sermons that will take us through the Ten Commandments. This messages is entitled, The Breaking Point and comes from Exodus 20:12.

Interestingly, the fifth Commandment marks a "breaking point" in the Ten Commandments. The first four Commandments speak of our relationship to God; however, beginning with Commandment number five, we initiate consideration of our relationship to people and things. The first four Commandments concern our vertical relationship but the next six Commandments concern our horizontal relationships. The first four Commandments deal with our upward life, but the last six of them are concerned with our outward and inward life.

I have not titled today's message "The Breaking Point" because the Commandments are broken into two parts, but rather I do so to speak of something even more important. The fifth Commandment is given to us because God has created us to live in families. Family life is at the center of civilization. If the family breaks down, so does the society in which the families are located.

A church, a community, a city, a nation, will only be as strong as its families. Satan knows this, and so he attacks this institution as no other. God commanded that a proper respect for authority and status must be observed in the home. If this respect is not maintained, culture will crumble and the life of the society will be shortened. If this respect is maintained, the life of the society is strengthened and lengthened. Literally, life and death hang in the balance of the home life within a society. God knew that His people would not long survive if they neglected a proper love, respect and honor within the family unit.

Jesus upheld this Commandment as being important. In Matthew 19:19 He paraphrased this Old Testament passage, "Honor thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." In Ephesians 6:2-3 Paul also mentioned this Commandment. In other words, this is not just some antiquated law out of the distant past. This word is needed today as much as any time in history.

I want you to look at this passage with me in three divisions.

I. Parents Worthily Receiving Honor

This passage seems to presuppose that the father and mother are worthy of honor. God expected that His people would raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The honor due parents is not directly related to the parents deserving the honor, but it is certainly something we should consider. Those of us who have children need to stop and ask just what kind of parents we are. I am not talking about judging parenting in the light of Hollywood's perception of modern parenting, but I want us to judge our parenting by the standards of God found in His word. God's word points out four things which parents should provide for their children. What are they?

A. Protection

When Jesus was born, Herod was determined to find Him and kill Him. He ordered all male babies in Bethlehem who were two years of age and younger to be put to death. But an angel had warned Joseph and Mary of the danger, and the angel directed them to flee to Egypt. Note that God will help us help our children when we are close enough to Him for His counsel to give us warnings. If we walk apart from a close relationship to Him, we may miss the warnings that only God can see and provide to us. For the sake of our children, we need to be parents who keep in close fellowship with the Lord.

Protecting our children means that we do all we can when they are growing and developing to protect them from physical harm, spiritual attack, social disappointment and mental failure. In fact, it is said of Jesus when He was a child that He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). We must protect our children in body, mind, emotion and spiritual development. This cannot be done with part time parenting. You must be able to observe the growth and changes in your child. The mind and soul of a child can be corrupted through improper education, dangerous association, and unholy entertainment. The body and emotions can be destroyed through poor diet, illegal drugs, and a wrong method of dealing with relationships. We cannot ensure that a child will not be harmed or hurt, but we can do our best to protect that child. We must do our best to act in a way that is worthy of the honor which God says the child should give to us. In other words, we ought to so live as to be worthy of the honor we ask from our children.

B. Affection

Also, a parent is to show a child proper love and teach a child how to love. Love must be expressed and not just felt. I have had some adults tell me that they never once heard their father say “I love you” when they were growing up. What a shame! God expressed His love for us and showed it over and over again. Jesus spoke of His love for His disciples. It is a divine thing for a man to show and express love. Mothers should also express love toward her child or children in words and deeds. Many children grow up with a poor understanding of the love of God because they experience a poor example of love from their parents. Whether we realize it or not, many children get their concept of God's love from us as parents.

I remember a man from my college days who talked about this. He was a fellow student and someone I knew quite well. The one thing I did not know about him, until he revealed it in a conversation, was the poor example his father had given him when he was growing up. He told me one day that he had a problem with the idea of a loving father. He wondered out loud how many other people in our churches may have a similar experience to his. The point he was making is that some terms we use while preaching may have a negative effect on those who hear them. When he heard the phrase, “Your heavenly Father,” it certainly did not mean the same thing to him that it meant to me. It is sad if we as parents extend to our children a poor example of what it means to love and be loved, especially as it relates to God’s love.

Ellen Yinger, writing in Today's Christian Woman, tells about an incident with her daughter that is very revealing. She writes, "When my daughter lost her last baby tooth, I was weary of the Tooth Fairy and decided it was time to dispel this childhood myth. 'Kelli,' I said, 'You know how the Easter Bunny is really Mommy, and Santa Claus is, too?'

'Yes,' she replied, a bit warily. 'Well, there's one more person who is really me. Can you guess who that is?'

Slowly, Kelli's eyes grew big as saucers and her mouth dropped open. In a small, awe-filled voice, she said, 'God?'” (Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart”)

Whether we like if out not, our children form ideas about God and His nature from the way we treat them. We are wise to show them God’s love as we live each day, otherwise they may never be open to it!

C. Direction

Parents are to give direction to their children. Paul stated that we are to bring up a child in the nurture (training) and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The first teaching by parents to children should be that of instructing them to respect God. Teach your children to stand in awe of God. That is what the "fear of the Lord" really is. Children must be trained in God's ways, not our ways. The principles of God are unchanging and will suffice for a child throughout a lifetime. The "admonition of the Lord" speaks of warning and caution. Children need to learn early the dangers of violating eternal principles. The word for admonition means to point the mind in a correct direction, adding to it a warning of danger if the direction is not followed.

I heard a news story some days ago, and I don’t remember what news program it was on, about a woman who was using her preschool aged child to steal from people. Apparently the mother had taught the child to slip behind a counter a steal the purse of a clerk in a store. The mother would divert the attention of the clerk and the small child would slip in behind the counter, find the clerk’s pocketbook and lift the purse. I thought about that poor child and what this habit might create in his or her mind in future years.

Children need to learn from parents the importance of loving and serving God. Statistics prove that children form their ideas about how important God is from observing their parents. A study recorded in "Leadership" magazine by Warren Mueller (Vol.2, no. 3) reveals that if both mom and dad attend church on a regular basis that 72% of their children will remain faithful in attendance as well. If only the father attends church regularly, the faithfulness of the children drops to 55%. When mom is the only one who is faithful, the percentage of children who will remain faithful in church attendance drops even more, to only 15%. When neither attend regularly, only 6% remain faithful.

Parents must give direction to their children in word and deed. We give them direction in what we say but also in how we live. Certainly how we live will have as much effect, and perhaps more, than merely what we say to our children. Do we deserve the honor God says our children are to give us when it comes to the direction we teach in word and reveal in our deeds?

D. Correction

Parents are to discipline their children. Many years ago an instruction booklet for raising young women said, "If your daughter becomes difficult, try brushing her hair. If that does not work, try the other side of the brush on the other end of the girl." Some people question the effectiveness of corporal or physical punishment of children. Certainly God gave instructions that children should be physically punished in order to teach them discipline. The punishment of a child should be gentle and should never injure or cause real physical harm. On the other hand, time out and other ideas of punishment are not sufficient in themselves to teach a child true discipline. God has determined that a form of discipline somewhere between a time out and a knock out is needed to help your child develop properly.

The very worst form of punishment for a child is psychological battering. Telling a small boy or girl that he or she is stupid or dumb is the worst form of abuse. Some of you in this room today bear the scars of parental words. Long ago you forgot the pain of spankings you received, but you have not forgotten how you were told that you would never amount to anything. Children look to their parents for assurance that they are okay and that they are loved. Abusive words mark a child for life with a feeling of insecurity and a lack of self-confidence. Inferiority and insecurity stalk the child who is verbally abused.

I know a person today is has been damaged for life by the cruel words spoken by the mother. Those words wounded this person for life. Full potential will never be reached by this person because of the abusive treatments given by both parents and in particular the mother.

All discipline is to be given with love. I remember my day saying, “Son, I don’t want to spank you but you leave me no choice. I want you to know that this is going to hurt me as much as it is going to hurt you.” Well, it didn’t seem that way to me at the time. Later, when I became a parent, I knew what my father meant. I never felt during punishment that my father hated me, was looking down on me or that he enjoyed what he was doing. In fact, he often said, “Son, I know you can do much better. I want you to be the person who can be.” Those words stuck with me and still do!

Parents, how are we doing? In the areas of Protection, Affection, Direction and Correction we must excel. God tells children to honor their parents, and He says this without qualification. But if we are to be worthy of the divinely demanded honor, we must look to these four areas from time to time to see how we are doing.

II. Children Willingly Giving Honor

An eighty year old lady had two daughters. They almost never visited her even though they lived nearby and had plenty of time to shop at the local mall regularly. The lady went to her lawyer and asked for two things to be taken care of when she died. First, she wanted to be cremated. Secondly, she wanted her ashes spread all over Macy's Department Store. The lawyer asked, "Why Macy's?" The aging woman said, "Then I will know that my daughters will visit my resting place at least twice a week."

The aging mother was looking for some honor from her daughters! It is important for children to honor their parents according to God's Word. Note some important elements to this command from the Lord.

A. Honoring Your Parents

To "honor" means to "attach weight to someone or something." This Commandment orders us to give weight or importance to the role of parenting and to the responsibility of honoring our parents properly.

1. We Must Not Wait Till Our Parents Are Perfect To Honor Them

All of us are sinners. Our parents are not and will not be perfect. We are to honor them with respect even if they disappoint us at times. Remember, God’s loves you and blesses you even when you are not what He expects you to be.

2. We Must Not Wait Till Our Parents Are Worthy To Honor Them

None of us is fully righteous, and therefore not worthy of honor. If you wait till your parents meet all your expectations of who and what they ought to be, you will never honor them. We are to honor them where they are in life. All of us are moving along, learning as we go, and parents are no different.

3. We Must Not Wait Till We Like Our Parents Before Honoring Them

You may not like your parents practice, but you must honor their position. A soldier honors a senior ranking officer but he may not necessarily like that person. We honor the position of police officers whether we like a particular one or not. God calls for us to honor our parents even when they disappoint us.

B. Heeding Your Parents

Parents give direction because they care. Children should heed what their parents say. The Bible clearly teaches that we are to obey our parents. This does not mean that adult children should obey their parents. This command speaks of children who are still live at home and under the authority of their parents due to their young age. Those children or teens living at home, should obey their parents in the Lord. The Bible does not say that parents are always right. And certainly there is nothing in the Bible that orders a child to obey a parent if the parent is ordering them to break the law or violate Biblical moral principles. But otherwise, children should obey their parents, for this is right and pleases the Lord.

Children need to know that God holds parents responsible for how they live, and for how they discipline their children. Eli had two sons and Eli was a very good man. But, for one reason or another he did not discipline his sons. They lived godless lives and he did little to correct them. God judged Eli for his lack of discipline. When your parents are correcting you, they are obeying God. If you have parents who love you and love God, you are very blessed, and you should thank God for this blessing. Rather than working against your parents, you should heed what they tell you and allow God to work through them to help you. In a family, everyone has a role to play in order to make life better for each participant. As a child, you are to honor and obey your parents – that is your role!

C. Helping Your Parents

The last thing that honoring your parents means is to help your parents. We can do this when we are children still at home. We can help our parents by not disobeying them, embarrassing them, or making their job as parents more difficult through our behavior. We can do our chores, keep up our school work, and act honestly in a trustworthy manner. We can help out around them home without having to be asked or commanded to do so. We can keep our rooms clean, take good care of the things our parents buy us and work with other family members to reduce tension.

When our daughter and son were young, they were wonderful. I really mean that! I can tell you this, they gave me far more honor than I deserved. They never once – not once – did anything to embarrass us. As a preacher you know that people watch your children very carefully. Many preacher’s kids turn out rough and tough from being singled out in this manner. But, our children sought to honor us by never doing anything to harm my ministry or our family name. I look back on that now are realize how blessed we were. I don’t mean to say that they were perfect - I know better than that. I am simply saying that whatever they did that was wrong was done in a way that did not publicly bring shame upon our family. Children, I pray that all of you will do that for your parents. When you grow up and go your own way, I hope you will live for Christ. At that point in life you will have to decide how you will live, but right now while you are at home and growing up, honor your parents. Don’t ever do anything to dishonor or shame them. God will bless you for that.

After we become adults, the main way we can honor our parents is by helping them. Certainly once we are grown, we are not ordered to obey them. Somewhere I read that obedience to parents moves through 3 stages.

Stage 1 is when we obey because we told to.

Stage 2 is in our youth, when we obey because we know it is right. It is called willing obedience.

Stage 3 is in our adult life. It is called mutual obedience because it involves parent and child seeking to obey all the commands of God on an equal basis.

As adult children, we can comfort our parents with contacts by phone, mail and personal visits. We can live honorable lives so as not to make their declining years more difficult and complicated. We can pray for them and with them. We can help meet financial and physical needs which may be too difficult for them.

Jesus talked about the way adult children dishonored their parents in Matthew 15. Some adult children were seeking ways to keep from having to help their parents. One way they sought to avoid their responsibilities was to declare that everything they had was dedicated to God and, therefore, could not be used to help their parents. Jesus pointed out how wrong this was. We must care for our parents in their declining years. This is certainly a way we can and should honor our parents.

III. Families Wisely Respecting Honor

There are some important reasons for the fifth Commandment. How wise we will be if we know these reasons and respect them.

A. A Practical Reason.

The judgment we use toward others will one day be used to judge us. We need to obey our parents, and honor them, for one day we will want our children and grandchildren to do the same for us. In the end, our relationship to our parents should be a reflection of our relationship to our Heavenly Father. It is to be one of honor and respect that is punctuated by our willing obedience and devotion. I promise you that one day when you have children you will want them to love you, honor you, obey you and follow the Lord. So, do that for your parents now.

B. A National Reason.

The longevity of a nation depends greatly on honoring this Commandment. Long life mentioned in this Commandment did not just refer to one's personal life, but to the life of the nation. A church, a city, and a nation, depends on obedience to this Commandment to ensure God's blessing of longevity, prosperity and integrity. Rebellious children become rebellious adults, and this leads to the collapse of a nation.

C. A Biblical Reason.

We could simply say that we should obey this Commandment because God said so! Actually, God said so because it is for our own good. You see, honor and obeying one’s parents pleases the Lord. That is what we read in Colossians 3:20. Pleasing the Lord ought to be an incentive for obedience to this Commandment. Certainly all the redeemed saints desire to bring glory to God and to please Him. This cannot be done while breaking this Commandment


There are some of us here today who need to ask the Lord to forgive us. Why? Because we have not been the children we should have been to our parents. We made life difficult on them when we were young. Perhaps we have not shown them enough love now that we are older. Some young people here today need to confess that at this very moment you are not honoring your parents as you should.

Others ought to forgive your parents. You may hold some hard feelings about things done to you, said to you, or denied you by your parents. We need to know that they were not, and are not, perfect any more than we are perfect. In our hearts, before the Lord, we ought to forgive them and let go of the past. You can never be what you should be if you are holding grudges against your parents.

Some of us who are parents need to make a new commitment to love and lead our children according to God's Word and Way! Come now, dear parents, admit how difficult the task is and how often you fail. Moms and dads, and single parents, need to get out of you seat and come forward today to bow before the Lord. You need help and you know it. You need to ask God to give you wisdom to deal with rearing your children. Some of you have wayward children, and it grieves you deeply because you did the best you could to teach, discipline, love and guide them. God knows where they are. He cares, just like you care. Bring those children to God today during this invitation.

We need to ask the Lord for help in this matter. The job is bigger than we are, but greater is He that is in us that he that is in the world. Let us turn to the Lord today as families, for God created the family and he is the One who can make our families what they ought to be.

Lastly, there is a family you may not belong to. The family of God is made up of all those who repent of their sins and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. If you have never done that, there is a heavenly Father calling you today. He loves you. He is willing to save you. He promises you a wonderful home in heaven with Him when this life is over. Come to Him today and join the family of God.