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The Struggle with Authority

Unmasking the Villains of your Heart  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:41
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Exodus 20:12 ESV:2016
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
It seems like from the time a toddler learns to say “no” until our last breath, many of us struggle with being led. We like to be in charge and we bristle when we feel like those with authority get it wrong.
This struggle with authority made its way to social media this past Monday, with a lawsuit over a call in the NFC game and (in case you can’t make out the sign on the right photo) a merchant who wasn’t pleased with the AFC game selling referee shirts under the banner “Patriot Team Apparel”
The last 4 weeks we’ve looked at the commands that relate to our interaction with God. Beginning today we look at 6 interactions with other people that are shaped by our love for God. We start with how we respond to the people that God puts in authority over us.

Your First Struggle with Authority

Parents are Exhibit #1

1. In the rare exception of a late childhood adoption, you never got to choose your parents. You got the ones God gave you.
2. If you had godly parents who instilled proper discipline, then you probably have little problem with other forms of authority at school, work or society.
3. If you had parents who were inconsistent in discipline or overly dominant then I would suspect that you continue to struggle will all forms of authority. When I read this verse then something made the hair stand up on the back of your neck and a wall of emotional defense now stands between you and me.
· Parents like this frequently have children who find it difficult to believe God is good. They see God as someone who instills unnecessary rules and is just watching for us to mess up so that He can sweep in and punish. They see God as a cosmic killjoy rather than as a provider/protector.

Exhibit #1 shapes all other authority

1. If you had parents whom you knew had your best interest at heart, even though they made mistakes, you probably have had little trouble submitting to other authorities such as teachers, deputies, your boss, or a Drill Instructor.
My son has a T-shirt that he wore frequently as he transitioned from High School to College. The logo on the shirt was a large box and outside of the box was the word “think”. I told him that if we first have to learn to live within the box before we are entrusted with thinking outside of the box—but I am a rule follower.

No “small print

1. This command would be easy if it read “Honor Your father and mother…to the extent that they are correct”. It doesn’t say “Honor your parents as long as you understand and agree with them.” It doesn’t say “Honor your parents as long as they are no stricter than your friends’ parents.”
2. Your parents weren’t perfect, and you aren’t either. God instructs us to honor first, then appeal later.
I have several classmates who are African-American and many of these friends have posted on social media about having “the talk” with their sons. “The talk” is not the one about reproduction and respect, but the one about interacting with security and law enforcement. Chet, Syglenda and Marlon have each instructed their sons that coming home alive is so important that they must resist the urge to argue when stopped, but to comply first and later to tell their side of the story.
3. The fifth commandment confronts us with some difficult questions that we must face honestly:
· How should a Christian student respond to a difficult teacher?
· How should an employee deal with a difficult boss?
· How should Christians relate to leaders in the church or in the nation with whom they may passionately disagree?
· What is your responsibility when a person in authority behaves dishonorably?
· What would it mean to honor them?

The Meaning of “Honorכַּבֵּד (kabbed)

Literally “to become (or make) heavy

Have you ever encountered water in the road and said to yourself, “that’s nothing, I’ll just drive through it”? Perhaps the puddle is a little larger and you think for a moment, “I can run over that but it may result in some damage to the engine”? Or sometimes you see the creek running over the bridge rightfully conclude, “If I try to drive through that I’m going to end us DRH – dead right here!”
· Just as those flurries or that puddle prompt the Troopers to issue warnings to stay off the roads, the meaning of “honor” is to consider disobedience to your parents as more significant than we first think.

Honor looks different as we mature

1. To young children: honor looks like cheerful compliance (not “just a minute”).
Luke 2:51 (ESV) — And he [Jesus] went down with them [Mary & Joseph] and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
2. To adolescents: honor looks like contribution. Your home is not a hotel and your parents are not the servants. As you move toward maturity you owe it to your family to begin thinking “what is my contribution to the family?”
3. As young adults: honor moves toward consultation. Do you ask for your parents’ wisdom on your college, your living conditions, your spouse?
I recall asking my father for his opinion when I was considering changing colleges. And, although it may seem old-fashioned, I asked my parents for their input and spoke with Ann’s mother (her father had passed) before I ever proposed.
· Your mother and father are not always right, but they do know you, and they have seen more of life than you have.
4. As a middle-aged son, I still check-in with my parents on certain decisions. i.e. I asked them to pray with me before accepting the call to become your pastor.
5. At the end of life, when your parents are aging, honor looks like compassion-giving consideration to their (physical, emotional & spiritual) needs. As Jesus hung on the cross, he made arrangements for his mother.
John 19:26–27 ESV:2016
26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

When Your Parents are Wrong

1. Even Jesus had to deal with this situation.
2. In John 2 Jesus was attending a wedding and his mother told him when the wine ran out. Jesus replied, “What does this have to do with me?” Then Mary told the servants in essence, “I’m getting out of the way, just do whatever he says to do.”
3. In Mark 3:21 larger crowds are pressing in and Jesus is so busy he doesn’t even have time to eat.
Mark 3:21 (ESV) — And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
4. While you are still under your parents’ authority, Daniel and the proposal about eating the King’s meat is a helpful model for making a respectful appeal to authority. Notice I said respectful appeal, not an argument!
5. If you have left your parents’ home and cleaved to a spouse the order is a little different.
· Honor your parents by giving weight to what they say. Then decide the right course of action, remembering that your loyalty is first to God, and second, if married, to your husband or wife. Give weight to the words of each in the proportion that is due. A wise parent will see this and support it
6. For some here today I would like to acknowledge that your parents not only made mistakes but inflicted abuse; and this is NEVER a reflection of God. But healing is possible as you choose to look away from those failures and replace them with the perfection of God’s love for you.
Transition: The 5th command is directed at the child, but implicitly parents must also consider…

Parenting Worthy of Honor (Ephesians 6:4)

Ephesians 6:4 ESV:2016
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Negative – Do Not Provoke to Anger

1. Don’t “push their buttons”
2. Ephesians 3:15 teaches that family relationships flow out of the person and character of God. As the first authority figure in the life of your child, you play a huge role in shaping your child’s understanding of God.
3. There is a reality that much more is caught than taught. Your children will learn much more from watching you than listening to you.
4. I was impressed by the KSHSAA Rule 52 that appears on the program for all High School games. The rule basically says “If you’re here as a fan then act like a fan. If you’re here as an official then act like an official. If you’re here as a player then act like a player.
5. I asked Mr. Githens for a copy of the text and he also sent me a link to an article in the Dodge City Daily Globe from Jan 15 of this year.
If you are the mother or father of a high school athlete here in Kansas, this message is primarily for you.
When you attend an athletic event that involves your son or daughter, cheer to your heart’s content, enjoy the camaraderie that high school sports offer and have fun. But when it comes to verbally criticizing game officials or coaches, cool it.
Make no mistake about it. Your passion is admired, and your support of the hometown team is needed. But so is your self-control. Yelling, screaming and berating the officials humiliates your child, annoys those sitting around you, embarrasses your child’s school and is the primary reason Kansas has an alarming shortage of high school officials.
6. What are your kids going to learn about respect for authority by listening to you talk about your boss at dinner? What are they going to learn when they see me always hit the brakes when I see a cop? What are they going to learn when they see me ordering the one-trip and going back for a refill at the salad bar?
7. Don’t “push your child’s button” by saying one thing and modeling another.

Positive – Train and Instruct

1. I believe training is “modeled instruction” kind of the “do-it-like-this” moments.
2. There is also a place for Instructions. This is where we clearly explain what is expected.
3. The way we train and teach is a reflection of God Himself.
4. My favorite parenting book (besides the Bible) is Graced-based Parenting, which I highly recommend for all parents from toddlers to graduates. This is available in paper, as an e-book, or audiobook.
5. Corrective and Redemptive discipline are essential to your child’s development, and discipline is described in Hebrews 12:7-8 as an act of legitimacy and love. This picture from my accountability partner in Wisconsin shows what happens when a living thing receives food and shelter without structure or discipline.

Honor-worthy Parents know each child.

1. By knowing each child and responding appropriately, you know when to correct and when to comfort.
2. Many of us are familiar with Prov. 22:6
Proverbs 22:6 ESV:2016
6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
3. I used to think “in the way he should go” meant “according to my determined outcomes”. The lightbulb went off in my mind when I heard a preacher say that the Hebrew behind this phrase means “according to his way, or according to his bent.”
4. Trying to teach a homebody who prefers books, legos and computers to kill and field dress a deer will be an extra challenge. While trying to teach an energetic outdoorsman to play violin will take a special kind of patience.
Friday night was a very entertaining evening at the High School as some of our own tried to play basketball on the backs of donkeys. Although Randy Peterson is an accomplished rider, he found himself on a beast who would not move. Caleb Stout and Landry Hinkson were each paired with burros who did NOT want to be ridden. Throughout the evening Chuck Maggard observed the animals and learned which ones would not be led and which ones would not be mounted. Wise competitors learned that each animal had to be treated according to its own tendencies.
5. Just as God makes each person with a personality and unique skills, honor-worthy parents learn to shape each child according to his or her own needs.


Parents are our first exhibit of authority and the way we respond to them says much about our response to God and all other authorities.
Parents are to be given weight in various ways according to our stage in life.
As parents we are to consider how our parenting will influence our children’s view of God and train them to respect authority according to their tendencies.
For all of us, Christ is our model. He was obedient to his earthly parents. He was always submissive to the Heavenly Father’s will, even to the point of death on a wooden cross to pay for our sins.
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