1. Today is Father’s Day, so please turn in your Bible to Exodus 20.12. When you find that verse please stand for the reading of God’s Word, and please remain standing after we read that verse: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
2. Turn, now please, to Ephesians 6.2-3: “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” These two verses show that what God commanded in the Old Testament is the same as what he has commanded in the New Testament.
3. It doesn’t matter if you have a good dad or a bad dad, a smart dad or a not so smart dad, a rich dad or a poor dad, a tender and compassionate dad or an emotionally cold and insincere dad. Perhaps your dad is a moral man, or maybe he is an immoral man. Maybe he is young and hip, or perhaps he is old and stodgy. The Bible still universally commands and demands one and all to honor the father who is your father.
4. The way things work is that children are born and are totally dependent upon their mothers. Gradually, should the child live, he will mature to the point that he can be trained and taught by his mother. Should he live longer he will mature more and more and the father will play an ever increasing role in his journey to manhood. By the time he reaches manhood he will either have been trained and taught by his mother and his father to honor them, or he will not have been so trained.
5. There is a role that every mother plays in training her child to honor his father, just as there is a role that every father plays in training his child to honor his mother. But I will pass on those topics this morning in favor of the part every dad plays in rearing his child to honor him.
6. And I am convinced that a significant factor in a man’s success in raising his own child to honor him is related to whether or not he, as a man, is an honorable man. So I ask you, this morning dad, are you an honorable man? What is an honorable man? How does a fellow come to be honorable?
7. Let me begin with the English dictionary. Our Bible text uses the word “honour,” but I want to speak to you about being honorable. So, what means this suffix attached to the tail end of the word “honor”? The dictionary defines it this way: “-able, a suffix meaning “capable of, susceptible of, fit for, tending to, given to,” associated in meaning with the word able, occurring in loan-words from Latin.”
8. So, “honorable” has to do with someone or some thing that is “fit for honor, or capable of honor.” Now, would anyone in his right mind disagree with me when I claim that a dad has a better chance of being honored by his children if he is honorable than if he is not honorable? I didn’t think so.
9. I am on your side, dad. I am actually the best friend you have in the world, because I am the guy who seeks to persuade your wife to submit to you, seeks to persuade your children to honor you, and is more committed to your personal success as a man, as a husband, and as a father, than perhaps you are.
10. So, in the next few minutes and before Gary Isenberger comes to lead us in singing before this morning’s Father’s Day sermon, let’s learn a thing or two about being honorable, about being worthy of honor.
1A. First, LET US OBSERVE IN THE BIBLE THAT GOD IS WORTHY OF HONOR
This should not be a surprise or a shock to anyone. Even without the aid of the Bible a thinking man would conclude that God, the Creator of all things, the First Cause, the Almighty One, the One Whose unseen hand orders our universe, is deserving of honor. And he would be right.
1B. In First Timothy 1.17 Paul writes these words: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
2B. And listen to the chorus of the elders in heaven, in Revelation 4.11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
3B. So, God is worthy of honor. He is fit to be honored. Of course, the question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you are willing to honor Him in the ways that please Him. Many people are willing to honor the Lord with their lips and with their deeds, but Solomon directs us to honor God with our money. Proverbs 3.9: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” That’s honor that’s real honor. Amen? It’s honor that’s really worth something.
2A. Next, THERE WERE SOME PAGANS THOUGHT BY SOME TO BE WORTHY OF HONOR
Being honorable is a relative thing. God is, of course, ultimately worthy of all honor. But among men there are some thought to be worthy simply because they stand above their peers, they tower above other men in one respect or another.
1B. In Genesis 34 we find Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, described as “more honourable than all the house of his father,” even though he defiled Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, by having premarital sex with her. But what did Jacob’s sons think of Shechem being more honorable than his relatives? What was the response of Dinah’s brothers to this man’s high standing in the community? They killed him saying, “Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?”
2B. In Numbers 22 the Moabite king, Balak, enticed the prophet Balaam to help him subvert the children of Israel. When initially approach by Balak’s representatives Balaam refused. But “Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they” to persuade Balaam, and they succeeded. Honorable by Moabite standards, they were not honorable by God’s standards. We don’t know the names of these so-called “honorable” men, but perhaps they are mentioned in Numbers 31.8. Maybe they have by this time been elevated to the status of city state kings. At any rate, we are told that the Israelites “slew the kings . . , beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings . . . : Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.”
3B. Perhaps you will remember that Naaman, the Syrian general who was cleansed of his leprosy by Elisha in Second Kings 5, is also mentioned as being honorable.
3A. THERE WERE ALSO JEWS DESCRIBED AS HONORABLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
1B. First to come to mind is Samuel, the prophet and judge of Israel who anointed first Saul and then David to be kings over Israel. Before he was ever anointed king over the twelve tribes Saul described Samuel as “a man of God” and “an honourable man” in First Samuel 9.6.
2B. In First Samuel 22.14 we read that David was esteemed an honorable man by the Philistine king Ahimelech. But we also know that despite his high opinion of David he was being tricked by David and was completely taken in by David’s trickery.
3B. Two of David’s 33 mighty men, that group of men known for their prowess as warriors and absolute loyalty to David, are described as honorable men. In Second Samuel 23, David’s cousin, Abishai, one of the three mighty men who fetched the water for David from Bethlehem that he poured out as a drink offering, and who on one occasion slew three hundred men, was said to be “most honourable of three.” Then there was Benaiah, a mighty man who slew two lion-like men of Moab, who went into a pit in the snow and slew a lion, and who slew an Egyptian. “He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three.” I take it from the wording that all of David’s mighty men were honorable men. But honorable for what? Honorable for their fighting skills and for their loyalty.
4A. Finally, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT WE SEE THAT EPAPHRODITUS WAS HONORABLE
1B. Turn to Philippians 2, where we read of Epaphroditus, who had been sent to Rome by the Church in Philippi to take care of Paul while he was awaiting trial, but who himself had gotten so sick he almost died. Verses 25-30 describe this man, with the word “reputation” in verse 29 being our word for honorable:
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
2B. “Hold such in reputation.” In other words, Paul deemed Epaphroditus to be an honorable man, since our word for honorable is here translated “reputation.” What made him honorable, not in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of the Holy Spirit, Who inspired this letter Paul wrote? Verse 30: “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life.”
1. This is but a brief glimpse of those who are honorable. Of course, God is honorable in that He is deserving of all praise, all glory and all honor. It is His right to receive honor because of Who He is and because of what He has done. He certainly is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.”
2. We have also seen that among men there are those counted honorable who are not so worthy of honor. In some cases they are men who were very mediocre, but who happened to be standing among moral midgets, and so seemed to be standing relatively tall though they were not towering figures.
3. Others seemed to be honorable only because they were capable of deceiving people into thinking they were worthy of honor. While others were honorable for exploits on the battle field or for their fierce loyalty.
4. But there were some men who were honorable, and some women who were honorable, and one institution that is honorable. The marriage bed is undefiled and honorable, while the bed of fornication is contaminated and vile, Hebrews 13.4. So, marriage is honorable. Samuel was a genuinely honorable man, as was Epaphroditus. And Luke makes mention of honorable women in Acts 17.12.
5. Since this is Father’s Day, I want to shed some Scriptural light on the subject of being an honorable father to you dads here today, and to those of you who hope to someday be dads. More important than being a man is the kind of man you are. And it is worth your while to be an honorable man.
6. Let’s stand now, shall we, as Gary Isenberger comes to lead us before this morning’s sermon.
1. Margaret Mead, the famous cultural anthropologist who made a name for herself studying the Samoan culture back in the 1920s, once said that “Women want mediocre men, and men are working to be as mediocre as possible.”
2. That may be true on the whole among both men and women, but I don’t think it’s acceptable. I don’t think it’s healthy. And I don’t think much of men who strive for ordinary when they could be extraordinary, who are content with average when they could be above average.
3. Neither am I much concerned about those men who are able to fool other men into thinking that they are honorable when they are not, or those men who appear to be giants when they are in fact ordinary men who benefit from being able tower over men who are small in stature.
4. Since this is Father’s Day, and since it is God’s will that fathers be honored, I want to rehearse to you men here today what is required of you to be honorable, what you need to do to take matters into your own hands to do what a man can do to ensure that he is honored by his children.
5. I want you to be honored, dad. It is my heart’s desire that father’s be honored by their children. And I am dismayed by the horrible example of conduct displayed by Shaquille O’Neill as both a son and a father. He has fathered children out of wedlock, which is a despicable travesty.
6. And just as bad, he is a public figure who prominently and publicly refused by obey God’s command to honor his father. I don’t care what his reasons for disobeying God are. God doesn’t care what his reasons for disobeying God are. The point is that he openly and publicly refuses to honor his father.
7. So, to help you to take steps that will minimize the likelihood that you are dishonored by your son or daughter the way Shaq dishonors his father, I want you to understand what is required of you to be an honorable man, to be a man who is honored.
1A. First, OF COURSE, YOU MUST BE A CONVERTED MAN
1B. Dealing with the whole subject of the sovereignty of God and the salvation of the Jewish people, Paul refers to imagery first used by the prophet Jeremiah when he writes in Romans 9.21: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”
2B. Thus, whether or not you will ever ultimately be honored by God, has entirely to do with whether or not you are ever converted. This is because only those who are converted, only those who are made by God, the Potter, into vessels of honor will ever actually be honored.
3B. How do I know this to be true? Because the entire 9th chapter of Romans has to do with the present unbelief of the Jewish people and with Paul’s desire for their conversion. Indeed, the 10th chapter of Romans begins with these words: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”
4B. So, salvation from your sins and this issue of being a vessel unto honor, being a person who shall someday be honored by God, are bound up together and are inseparable. You will not be honored and you will never be an honorable man so long as you are a lost man. You have to be born again not only to get your sins forgiven, and to escape God’s wrath, but also to be the honorable man who is most likely to be honored by others.
5B. Let me explain: The two issues of honor and shame are profoundly important to God, and ought to be important to every human being. Honor and shame ultimately have to do with whether or not you can stand before God or whether you are shamed by your sinfulness and wickedness in God’s sight that you are shamed into humiliation before Him.
6B. Being a sinner in God’s sight, you and I have no standing on our own before God, but have only our own sins to shame us before Him. Some have more sins and some have fewer sins, but all are sinful and therefore all are shamed before God.
7B. But this is where the sacrifice of God’s Son comes in. He died on Calvary’s cross, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. God’s provision for sinners is the sin cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of our sins on the cross, and brought to your personal benefit through faith in Christ. Thus, when cleansed by the shed blood of Christ you are no longer shamed by your sins, but have the position and status of honor in God’s sight. And someday you will actually be honored by God before men and angels if you are converted.
8B. But remember Romans 9.21. Being honorable, and therefore being honored by God, Himself, is linked to whether or not you are converted. If you are converted you will be honorable, by God’s grace, and you will be honored throughout eternity.
9B. Of course, the opposite of this is that if you remain unconverted you are a vessel unto dishonor. And throughout all the ceaseless ages of eternity you will be dishonored by God . . . in the lake of fire.
2A. BUT WHAT ABOUT BEING AN HONORABLE MAN IN THIS LIFETIME?
You can rant and rave about your children treating you with respect, your children honoring you. And they may, after a fashion, actually honor you. But not like the converted man’s kids honor him. Not at all like the converted man’s kids.
No. So long as you are unconverted you are not really an honorable man, which will reduce the likelihood that your children will actually honor you. Now, maybe, if they get converted, they will honor you. But so long as you remain unconverted you will be the kind of man and you will do the kinds of things that make it so very difficult for even the best kids to truly honor their father. And how brutal must a man be to insist on being honored when he has no concern for being honorable?
So, what do you have to do to get converted? What is necessary to get saved?
1B. My friend, the only thing you need to do to get saved is believe on Jesus Christ
1C. The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” That’s recorded in Acts 16.30. Their straightforward answer immediately follows: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
2C. If you will simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ He will save you. There is no doubt about that whatsoever. Romans 10.10 agrees: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”
3C. So, salvation is not the result of good deeds, is not the result of being good enough to go to heaven, is not the result of being religious, is not the result of making God happy with you. It is simply a matter of taking Jesus, by faith, to be your savior.
4C. When a person does that, if a person does that, he is pronounced righteous in the sight of God, his sins are washed away in the blood of Christ, he is adopted into the family of God. In short, when a person does that he is saved.
2B. The problem, of course, is that most people do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
1C. In fact, very few people get saved, despite the fact than many people say they got saved. The disparity comes from the fact that people lie. They deceive themselves in many ways.
2C. Since the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17.9, people deceive themselves by convincing themselves that they want to be saved when they actually don’t, by convincing themselves that they have believed on Jesus Christ when they have done no such thing, or by convincing themselves that they don’t need to be saved when they know very well that if they don’t get saved they’re going to go to Hell.
3B. So, how does a person get saved whose great tendency is to lie to himself in every conceivable way, and whose own heart tricks and deceives him into thinking that he is saved when he isn’t or that he doesn’t need to get saved when he does?
I cannot guarantee that any sinner will get saved, because God hasn’t told me who actually will and who actually will not truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But I do know what things are most likely to result in you getting truly saved:
1C. First, come to Church every service and pay very close attention to the preaching. Hebrews 10.25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.”
2C. And this is important because preaching is how most people get saved. First Corinthians 1.21: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
3C. And it’s important that every Church member attend every service, as well. What can happen when an entire congregation is assembled under the preaching of God’s Word? First Corinthians 14.25 tells us what can happen: “so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.”
4C. There are other things that are needful in seeing an unsaved person’s heart prepared for salvation, things that will do much to strip away the deceitfulness and lies that a sinner tells himself. But I don’t want to give you too much today, and I want to leave you with the most important thing, which is Church attendance.
1. Was Margaret Mead on target when she said “Women want mediocre men, and men are working to be as mediocre as possible”? Sad as it may be, I think she was on target. But it needn’t be.
2. We have no rocket scientists among us, and I am not suggesting that anyone here foolishly waste time pretending to be a genius. In many ways we will be but mediocre men. And this is because we are mediocre in gifts and talents and intelligence.
3. But this doesn’t mean we have to be mediocre in what kind of men we can be. Each and every man here can be an honorable man, particularly an honorable father. And how important it is that we strive to be that kind of man.
4. There is much to say that I have not said today, so that I might focus on only that which needs to be said. Dad, you need to get saved. You need to get saved to be honorable and to be honored. So come to Church.
Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), p. 5.