The first four commandments teach us how to love God. The next six teach us how to love others. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” The first “others” in our lives are our parents. God’s plan for family is defined here – father and mother. This command is universal. Everyone is someone’s child.
Honor literally means to add weight or significance to something. When you are young, you obey them and listen to them. They have experience and have already been down that road. As an adult you don’t have to obey them, but we are to honor them for life. We should not get so busy that we forget our parents. Jesus set this example. He was dying on the cross and made sure that his mother would be cared for by John. What if your parents are not honorable? There are no perfect parents. We are all human! Set healthy boundaries and humanize them. They are not God or the devil. Forgive them because you will need your children to forgive you. Only perfect kids can demand perfect parents. Jesus had flawed parents, yet, He submitted to them. He has been there. He knows what it is to have sinful parents and to not be understood by them. He knows what it is to have sinful siblings. He knows what it is to have a dad die and care for his mother. He knows what it is like to be single, and to be married to an unfaithful bride. Think about all the sacrifices your parents made for you. It’s a matter of gratitude. Thank them for all they do for you. This commandment comes before do not steal, lie, covet, adultery, or murder. Why? We must learn to respect and honor. The attitude comes before the action.
Our parents represent God. God has placed parents in authority over children to teach them. God is a God of order. Your parents who gave you life, provide for and protect you. Rebel against them and you are rebelling against God. You need God on your side. Honor the position. Like the office of president or a judge in court, we honor the office even if we can’t the person. If children do not grow up to respect their parents, they will not respect their teacher, coach, employer, or anyone in authority. It is a serious sin! God takes this sin seriously. In the Old Testament, a rebellious child was to be put to death (Deut. 21:18-21). Disobeying was not just a sin against parents, but against society. It affected the whole community. The family unit is the foundation of society. Thank God we are living in the New Testament times! But, even in the New Testament, this command has a promise about life and death.
Do you want to live a long and better life? God is so committed to this that He gave us a reward, incentive, motivation. Notice the second part of this command. “…so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” In Ephesians 6:1-3 we read, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it maygo well with you and that you may have along life in the land.” It is the one commandment with promise. The reward means that you will not die before your time. You will live out your appointed days. Many died early because they ran with the wrong crowd. Young people who obey their parents tend to live longer. If they will not listen and are rebellious, they cut their lives short and bring a lot of trouble on themselves. Honoring your parents means you understand that there is a cycle to life and God has placed both parents and children in that cycle with responsibilities to one another. It is our role to raise our kids and our role to care for our parents, not the government.
Parents, make it easy for your children to honor you. Children, no matter how old we are, or how old our parents are, we are commanded to honor them. This doesn’t always mean obey, but it does mean we must show respect. This commandment has promise!