The Fifth Commandment states that we are to honor our father and mother in order that our days may live long in the land that God has given us (Exodus 20:12). This is the first of God’s commandments to contain a promise (Ephesians 6:2,3). To “honor” in the original Hebrew language includes the qualities of love, affection, gratitude, obedience, and respect. It is through honoring our parents that we first learn to honor all that are in authority over us. If children do not learn to honor their parents then they will likely not honor any in authority. Are you ensuring that your children honor their parents so that they will grow up honoring the law of the land? (Proverbs 30:11-14. 2 Timothy 3:1-5) If You Can not Say “Amen”, Say “Oh Me!”.
All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother – Abraham Lincoln
Noteworthy is that the ancient world into which these commandments were given, human females were thought of as a property of no more value than cattle. Into this world, God stated that the FATHER and MOTHER were to be honored. Realize, God has always intended for males and females to be equal in rights as humans (Galatians 3:28). However, God has decided that positionally in the marriage the male is to be the head (Ephesians 5:23). That is because every team needs one head with anything in nature having two heads referred to as a monster! Nevertheless, this does not mean that the wife is inferior in any aspect. In fact, females have areas that are superior to males and vice-a-versa (1) so that we can COMPLETE one another not COMPETE with one another. Unfortunately, in life men use their positional power to obtain sexual favors from females while females use their sexual power to obtain positional favors from males. Consequently, males and females can be EQUALLY wrong, too! Nevertheless, it is God’s express desire that the mother is honored and not just the father (Proverbs 1:8. Proverbs 6:20. Proverbs 23:22-25):
The Law of Consequence for Violating the Commandment
The consequences upon disobedient children for their actions are described in the Bible (Proverbs 20:20. Proverbs 30:17). Unfortunately, disobedient children rarely consider the consequences to the whole family that their rebellion will cause (Proverbs 10:1. Proverbs 15:20. Proverbs 17:25. Proverbs 19:13. Proverbs 19:26. Proverbs 28:7). However, we as parents need to ensure that we are not driving our children to rebellion by having a plethora of rules that must be kept perfectly in order for them to be found pleasing to us. Rather we must cultivate an unconditionally accepting, loving, and caring relationship with our children within the framework of rules (Ephesians 6:4). Rules should be like what the endoskeleton is to the soft flesh of our bodies. That is, they must be in place to ensure order but not so rigid that exceptions cannot be made depending on the circumstances.
“Parents first of all need to know one thing. Truth without relationships leads to rejection, rules without relationships lead to rebellion, discipline without relationship leads to bitterness, anger, and resentment. Its the relationship stupid, it’s the relationship. As Bill Clinton said about the economy. Its the economy, stupid. If we don’t build loving, caring, intimate relationships with our children it doesn’t matter what we teach them or how much we pray for them, they’ll go to the wayside. And so I say to people, pray for your kids. But I’ll tell you this you can pray all you want but if you don’t build a relationship with them, forget it. They’ll walk away. Instead of [just] praying for your child, pray [also] for yourself. Because a parent is not responsible for a child. That’s a fallacy. If I thought I was responsible for my children I would go out of my mind. Teenagers could drive you nuts. I’m not responsible for my three daughters and my son. I’m responsible to my children not for them. I’m responsible to love them. To love the Lord thy God with all my heart, mind, and soul. I’m responsible to live out Christ before them. I’m responsible to love their Father. To give the model of a happy marriage. I’m responsible to teach my children, to pray for my children. I am responsible to love them, to listen to them, to hurt with them, to share with them, to be involved in their lives. What they do with it is not my responsibility. So you need to more prayer for yourself that you will be faithful to your child.” (2)
Nevertheless, if you did the best you could following God’s guidance in raising your children yet they choose to rebel against you and God anyway then forgive God (we tend to blame Him for everything), them, and yourself (we often forget this one). Continue to love and support them but without enabling any bad habits. Continue to trust God for them to return (Proverbs 22:6. Psalms 89:30-34).
We can learn a lesson from the Bible story of the prodigal son who insultingly wanted his inheritance before the father had died. The father knew it was better to have this rebellion lived out AWAY from the rest of the family so he gave the son his inheritance and off he went to enjoy the very temporary pleasure of sin (Luke 15:11-13. Hebrews 11:25). While the father evidently looked for the departed son every day (based on him seeing him return from afar – Luke 15:20). Note the Father did not proceed to follow the rebel son into the low places of life. However, once the son came to his senses (Luke 15:14-19) the father met him on his way back home before the other family members could see his disheveled appearance. The father then declared He was back in right relationship with him (signified by giving of his best robe) with all rights including his wealth (signified by giving of his ring) and restored him as a son (signified by giving him sandals which were not worn by servants but rather family members) (Luke 15:20-22) He then killed the fattened calf symbolizing reconciliation for the son that was effectively dead to them but was now alive! (Luke 15:23,24).
Furthermore, we are not to be like the older brother who kept the rules of his father perfectly but never cultivated a loving relationship with his father (Luke 15:25-32). This story is an allegory depicting the love our Heavenly Father has for us His children even if we chose to rebel. That is, He is not looking for perfection but rather progress and will be there for you the moment you turn from the sin (sin is rebellion or lawlessness 1 John 3:4) and to Him (Jeremiah 33:3). Amen
The Opportunity of Blessing for Keeping the Commandment
If your parents are still alive then treat them kindly as this is the only commandment that you cannot practice forever. That is, we all will lose our parents to death at some point (Hebrews 9:27). I have seen adults weeping at the funeral of their parents for missing the opportunity to set things right between them. If your parents are still alive be sure to call them regularly especially if you live too far away to visit. I encourage you to go make things right with them before it is too late.
Furthermore, if you profess to be a religious person but do not honor your parents then God does not think much of your religion (Mark 7:10-13. James 1:26,27). The world is looking for people with a religion that teaches them how to live well; a religion that begins at home by honoring your parents is a good place to start! Again, obedience and respect at home lead to the same in the workplace and when joined with other virtues they lead to a prosperous career. Therefore, parents continue to model honoring your parents so that your children (even adult children) can learn by example. Honor your parents by being a law-abiding citizen (Romans 13:1), by living an ethical, moral and prudential life (2 Peter 1:4-8), and by being a good provider for your family (1 Timothy 5:8), etc.
Lastly, does everything seem to be going wrong in your life? I challenge you to honor your father and mother today and watch for the results. Just like the law of gravity dictates that if you drop an object on Earth it will fall. Similarly, if you honor your parents God (the creator of gravity) promises your life will be long and blessed! (Ephesians 6:2,3)
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Power of Prayer, Josh McDowell
(3) The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Links to the entire series:
The Ten Commandments Series:
- The Ten Opportunities
- The Tenth Opportunity
- The Ninth Opportunity
- The Eighth Opportunity
- The Seventh Opportunity
- The Sixth Opportunity
- The Fifth Opportunity
- The Fourth Opportunity
- The Third Opportunity
- The Second Opportunity
- The First Opportunity
- The Null Opportunity