““Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12. And Ephesians 6:2-3: “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
I have recently begun to get a little bit more revelation on that commandment. To be honest I never really understood all that it meant, and I know there is still a lot more I could learn. Growing up we learned the commandments by rote, but I don’t recall ever getting much teaching on the subject.
I guess as a young person, to me honoring your mother and father just meant perhaps being obedient or being respectful. Things that as I hit the teenage years especially, I was not always good at. But there is so much more to honoring than just being obedient. You can be obedient but do it in a wrong way. You could be obedient just so you don’t get in trouble but still not be honoring your parents at all.
I know there are a lot of people who have a really hard time with this commandment. People who may have been raised in a highly dysfunctional family, perhaps with abuse or parents who may have acted in such a way you don’t respect them at all. How are you supposed to show honor to someone like that?
The thing about it is, this is a commandment from the Lord. Not a suggestion. It made the top 10. The Lord takes it very seriously. In fact He gave even more instructions when He was giving the law to Moses. In Exodus 21:15 they were told “And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” And Exodus 21:17: “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” Then in Leviticus 19:3: “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.”
Nowhere in the Bible does it say honor they father and mother if you feel they deserve it. Or honor them only if you feel like it, and its convenient.
Being rebellious to parents is not something the Lord takes lightly either. Proverbs 30:17: “The eye that mocks his father, And scorns obedience to his mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.”
So what can you do if you truly want to be obedient to the Lord, and to receive the promise for honoring your parents, but you have a real problem with figuring out how to do it? First, I would suggest praying about it. Tell the Lord your heart in the matter and the issues you are having. He knows what you have been through. He sees your pain and your struggle. He doesn’t want it to be just lip service from us, He wants our hearts. Then ask the Lord to forgive you for anything you may have done or said that dishonored your parents.
Honoring is not condoning. If you were abused it was not OK for someone to do that to you. That will be something they will have to answer to the Lord for.
The Lord can show you what it means to honor your parents. He would not ask us to do it if it were not possible. Perhaps it could include praying for them if they are still alive. Forgiving them. Realize that they, like us, are flawed human beings. We don’t always know what our parents lives were like. Honor them for what they did right.
What if your parents are dead? Then what? Maybe you were that rebellious child, or you realize you never knew what it meant to honor them when they were alive. I would think many of the same precepts would still be true. Ask the Lord. Repent for not honoring them the way you should have. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Honor their memory. Be thankful for them.
Maybe your parents are dead and you had a great relationship with them and you did honor them. Well done! Great job. Maybe another way to honor them is to teach your family and others the right way to do this.
Perhaps you’re just learning about some of this. After all, honor is not a word you hear much about these days. There are some who live by it and teach it to their children but I would venture to say that’s not true for a lot of people.
If you are blessed enough to still have your parents how can you learn to honor them? Love them. Pray for them. Listen to them. Include them in your life. Treat them with respect and teach your children to do the same. If possible spend time with them. This can be hard in these times when families are far apart I know. Skype! Facetime! Let them know that you value them. Forgive them when they do wrong and ask for forgiveness when you mess up. Teach your children these principles so they too may receive the promise.
Just some thoughts I had when thinking about this subject. I am by no means an expert on the wrong and right way to do it. My parents are both deceased. I have to learn myself how the Lord wants me to honor them. Go to God for His answers. He is our loving Father and we are showing honor to Him when we obey Him with what He asks and we honor our parents. We want to leave a legacy to future generations so our family lines will know how to do relationships right so they can also be blessed.