“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
— Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
Well, we have made our way to the fifth commandment. While the first four commandments are about loving God, we now shift our focus to loving our “neighbor,” starting with our parents. This can be a challenge for some people, as parents are not created equal and all have strengths and weaknesses. But parents are chosen by God and are responsible for our well-being and development into adulthood (and sometimes far beyond).
There can be consequences to disobeying our parents. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 discusses the profligate son who is stubborn and rebellious. His parents take him to the elders and the men of his town stone him to death. In Proverbs 30:17, “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.” While these things are unlikely to happen to you, it is still advisable to honor your parents. Why?
God calls us to honor our parents as the outflow of honoring Him. He calls us to respect his sovereignty by respecting the parents he saw fit to give us. We are to honor our parents in childhood and adulthood, for we owe them a debt of honor that never ends. As children, this is often represented as obedience to their direction. As adults, the concept of honor changes.
Honoring your parents as an adult can include forgiveness (as modeled by a forgiving Savior - despite their weaknesses); speaking well of them (in life and in death, modeling honor and respect); recognizing their contribution to our lives (a reflection of their strengths in us); respecting them (building esteem and a sense of worth); and caring for them (letting them know they are not forgotten and providing hands-on, loving care).
Heavenly Father, we thank You for bringing us into this world, and for the parents that helped create our being. As time passes, these relationships change, but the essence of family and caring remain. Help us to see our parents as people, imperfect but beautifully crafted in your image. Help us to recognize their contribution to our lives and honor them with the dignity and respect they deserve. In Your name we pray. Amen.