Vespers – Spurgeon’s Question 53

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

  • Ephesians 5:21-22

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. …
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. …
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

  • Ephesians 6:1, 5, 9

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

  • Romans 13:1

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

  • Romans 12:10

“Q. 53. What is required in the Fifth Commandment?
“A. The Fifth Commandment requires the preserving the honor, and performing the duties belonging to everyone in their positions and relationships, as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22, Eph. 6:1, 5, Rom. 13:1), inferiors(Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Catechism (Scripture proofs in bold above)

“Q. 64. What is required in the Fifth Commandment?
“A. The Fifth Commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.”

  • The Shorter Catechism (Westminster Assembly)

The Shorter and Spurgeon catechisms have the same wording, essentially.  The Shorter adds an extra proof.  The Larger Catechism takes about ten questions to define each of the terms mentioned in the answers here.

The requirements, according to the catechisms, go well beyond honoring our parents.  In honoring one another, we have taken a healthy step toward loving one another.  If we keep thinking that my parents did not discipline properly or I would have done it differently, then we tread on dangerous ground of not forgiving, disrespecting, dishonoring, and something far less than loving.

When Jesus taught for us to love our enemies, the enemy, for most people in Judea and Galilee was the Romans.  They were brutal.  Jesus said that if required to carry someone’s cloak for a mile, go the second mile also.  The Romans would do that.  You did not need to go that mile.  You would have to walk the mile back, but you either did as the Roman commanded or you would be beaten.  Anything to keep the conquered foe subservient kept that foe from uprising.  That was why the cross was so effective.  It was a horrible way to die, and very public.

While the slavery that the Bible talks about was more like an indentured servant, and done in a polite and loving manner, the Romans did not treat slaves well.  Thus, when Scriptures talk about serving, loving, and subjecting to authority, it might not be authority with justice and love in mind.

But in our suffering, we glorify God.

With that in mind, most parents, whether having parental skills or not, love their children.  This is not always the case, but the commandment does not provide any back door.  But for the most part, the parents, even in discipline, show love for their children.  With discipline comes correction, thus I always talked with the boys about what they did wrong.

I had a son who would argue what was just punishment and what was not.  He suggested having time out was the only good punishment.  But if he was in a room with a pencil and a single sheet of paper, within an hour, he would make a game with the tiny bits of paper he would tear from the sheet.  Giving him time out was a reward.  If I fell for his trick, he would be encouraged to be bad, just so he could do his favorite activity (playing a game he invented) in his favorite environment (alone).  I inflicted pain because he did not like that.  It was a deterrent.  His brother was seemingly indestructible.  Pain did not bother him, but being alone with nothing to play with was torture.  Thus, as I learned their likes and dislikes, I treated them vastly differently.  It may not have seemed to be justice, but it was more effective.  And it was done in love.

I would make the boys stew for a while, not knowing what the punishment was.  This allowed them time to think about what they had done wrong, but more importantly, it gave me time to be calm when the punishment phase began.  I never wanted to be angry at that point.

So, whether I was a good father or just moderately okay, I did what I did in love, mistakes and successes.  If the boys honored me in return, our interaction of parent and child would build a better relationship.  One that might resemble, as best a flawed human could do, to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

And now let us sing.

The following song is O God, Thou Art the Father, sung by Sandra Anderson, Lincoln Briney, Mary Beth Cecil, Greg Clark, Brett Gilbert, Tracy Laas, and Roger Treece.  I hope you enjoy this old hymn set to a traditional Irish melody.

1 O God, thou art the Father
of all that have believed:
from whom all hosts of angels
have life and power received.
O God, thou art the maker
of all created things,
the righteous Judge of judges,
the almighty King of kings.

2 High in the heavenly Zion
thou reignest God adored;
and in the coming glory
thou shalt be Sovereign Lord.
Beyond our ken thou shinest,
the everlasting Light;
ineffable in loving,
unthinkable in might.

3 Thou to the meek and lowly
thy secrets dost unfold;
O God, thou doest all things,
all things both new and old.
I walk secure and blessèd
in every clime or coast,
in name of God the Father,
and Son, and Holy Ghost.

  • Duncan MacGregor, O God, Thou Art the Father

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord,
You are our Abba (Daddy) Father.  You set the example so that we may love our children.  Help us to honor You by honoring our parents.
In thy Name we pray.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Our 3 kids had 3 kinds of discipline. Now their kids each have their own tailor made discipline.
    It is loving to do something that works.
    That verse “Honor one another above yourselves.” has always reminded me that God’s bar on our relationships is higher than one can attain on our own. That kind of love is bigger than mine.

    Liked by 1 person

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