“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)
I remember being in a clothing store and falling in love with a navy blue dress. I was probably 8 years old. My mom told me we couldn't buy the dress because it was too small. I disagreed and starting crying loudly to prove it. I was usually an obedient child, so my outburst threw my mom off. She bought the dress to stop me from screaming.
I only wore the dress a few times.
Then, just like my mom predicted, a month or two later, it didn’t fit. When I looked at the dress hanging in the closet, I knew I’d made a mistake. I should have listened to my mom and walked away from the dress. But I wanted it so badly! Even as a young girl, I knew in my heart I was doing the wrong thing when I challenged her authority. I didn't honor my mom in the department store and later regretted my embarrassing actions.
Here we are decades later, and now I’m the mother of an 8-year-old daughter. I see firsthand that when Lucy is obedient, she’s happy — and I am, too! That’s because when kids rebel and act disrespectfully towards parents, they’re breaking the fifth commandment, “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). In other words, when kids dishonor their parents, they forfeit the promised blessing of God. Proverbs 30:17 warns, “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” (NIV).
Now that sounds serious!
Why should we take the fifth commandment seriously — whether thinking of our own children or grandchildren or our aging parents? In the Ten Commandments, the first four address our vertical relationship with God. The fifth commandment is the pivot point to the remainder of the commandments which deal with our horizontal relationships — with other people.
Can you see how this commandment to honor parents is foundational to all social relationships? If a child doesn’t learn to respect a parent’s authority, how will she respect future authorities such as teachers, pastors, coaches, police officers or employers?
Respecting parents is the bedrock of a moral, good society where there’s honor for elders and authority. The word honor stems from a root word meaning “weighty” in terms of impressiveness or importance. When children honor their parents, they assign importance to their parents' words. The parent isn't just one of many voices. What they say bears weight. This is especially important when we think of honoring God as our heavenly Father. He’s the One who ultimately deserves our respect and obedience.
Unfortunately, today it's not unusual for a child to communicate with actions or words, “You’re not the boss of me!” Many children speak disrespectfully to their moms or dads. This is not how God designed the family to function. When the chain of command is broken, oftentimes, so is the home.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” is not a suggestion. It’s a command (Ephesians 6:1, NIV). It’s not just for past generations of families. It's for us. This doesn’t mean children always have to agree with their parents. I think it’s pretty safe to say Jesus knew better than His earthly parents many times, but Luke says that He "went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them … And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (2:51a, 52).
Honoring our parents is a key to obtaining God’s favor, wisdom and long life. Teach your children to honor you so they will be blessed now and in the future. Honoring your parents demonstrates your own practice of the fifth commandment. The moral culture around us is quickly deteriorating, in part due to a lack of respect and honor for parents. It’s time to turn things around and bring back honor to moms and dads.
Lord Jesus, I need You to rule and reign in my family today. Show me how I can honor my parents by honoring You, the author of parenting. Help (my) children to be obedient and honor their elders. Forgive my rebellion and disrespect. Guide us as a culture to return to following Your commandment to honor fathers and mothers so we might be blessed. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 6:2-3, “‘Honor your father and mother’ — which is the first commandment with a promise — ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’” (NIV)
Looking for a great parenting resource, just in time for Mother’s Day? Need some help in teaching your children to honor you? Arlene Pellicane’s latest book, Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right, is available in the bookstore.
Join Arlene today on Facebook as she demonstrates how to speak so children will respect you.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How do you show honor to your parents? What is something you can do this week to express your respect and appreciation?
Do children within your sphere of influence treat you with honor and respect? Why do you think that's the case? Share your thoughts from today's devotion.
© 2018 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.