Children Honor Your Parents
The second responsibility is for children to honor their parents. According to the Amplified New Testament this means to “esteem and value as precious.” Whereas to obey one’s parents is a recognition o their authority, to honor them recognizes their value in the parent/child relationship.
Just how are children to honor their parents? Submitting to one’s parents plays a key role in honoring them. It is possible to obey without honoring. A child could have the attitude: “I’m only doing this because you’re making me.” They are acting right on the outside but have the wrong attitude on the inside. When an obedient child also honors his parents, he will do what they ask of him with a good attitude. Honor is demonstrated when a child truly respects the wisdom, defers to the authority, and pays attention to the expectations of the parent. This honor and respect will carry over into other areas of life. Children will respect other authority figures in their life like teachers and police officers.
Children showing dishonor toward their parents is all to common today. In the United States, at least eight million serious assaults are made each year by children on their parents. However, a child can dishonor their parents without physically accosting them. Children who murmur, talk back, refuse to pay attention, try to manipulate, lie, argue, defy, etc. show disrespect to their parents. Grown up children dishonor their parents by forgetting them and neglecting them.
While we may outgrow the call to obey our parents, we never outgrow the obligation to honor them. Paul calls upon children to repay their parents with help and aid as the parent ages. “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (1 Tim. 5:4). Honor of parents encompasses providing for them when they an no longer provide for themselves. Statistics show that by the year 2021 one in six people will be over sixty-five years of age. Where as many parents may require special care in assisted living facilities, many children are unnecessarily neglecting their duty to their parents. Jesus condemned the Pharisees of the first century for their tradition of men which provided them a loophole when it came to caring for their elderly, needy parents. Jesus warned them, “for God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:4-6). Why in America is caring for one’s parents a problem when in many third world cultures care for elderly parents far more conscientiously and thoughtfully. Honoring elderly needy parents is more than just writing a check once a month. Colly Caldwell said it well, “…it is abominable for children to institutionalize their aged parents for the sake of convenience and selfishly deprive them of the personal love and attention they so desperately need a that time in their lives” (Caldwell 289).
The recipients of a child’s honor is “your father and mother.” Both parents are equal in regard to the obligations of obedience and honor. A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Prov. 10:1). “He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy” (Prov. 17:21).
What about dishonorable parents? Not all parents live in such a way that their children can properly honor them. Some parents are very abusing, neglectful, wicked, unloving and apathetic. Yet the Bible does not make any provisions for a child to honor and obey their parents only if they are “nice.” Children can honor the position their parents hold before God without respecting their parents’ every life choice.
Paul gives a good reason for children to honor their parents. Paul reinforced his commands to children with a promise: “is the first commandment with promise.” He quotes from the Septuagint’s translation of Exodus 20:12. This quote is also found in Matthew 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20 but only here is attached the promise. It is not the only commandment with a promise. All the commandments had promises associated with them (Dt. 4:40; 5:33). Paul is not saying this is the first of the Ten Commandments. It is the first or primary commandment for children to follow. The word “first” conveys the idea of priority. The number one commandment for children is to obey and honor their parents.
This commandment comes with two rewards. The first reward is “that it may be well with you.” The Law of Moses reads “That it may go well with you” (Dt. 5:16). Obedience always contributes to personal well being. Children who are blessed with good parents and are a blessing to their parents can be rewarded in many ways. For one, their obedience and honor will result in the avoidance of parental discipline in the form of spanking (Prov. 23:13; 13:24). They will be able to rely on their parents experience and wisdom to avoid problems even when they are away from home. Rebellious children do not prosper physically (Ps. 73:3-12).
The second part of this reward: “and you may live long on the earth.” This does not mean that everyone who died young dishonored his parents. However, the Law of Moses warned, “and he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. …”And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Ex. 21:15,17). Physical or verbal abuse of a parent was a capital offense in ancient Israel. It is still a grave issue with God to dishonor one’s parents. Obedience and honoring of parents is not to be seen as a magical formula guaranteeing a long life span for good kids. This is a general of proverbial statement. In fact, the Proverbs mention this idea several times. “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, And the years of your life will be many” (Prov. 4:10). “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened” (Prov. 10:27). “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” (Prov. 30:17).
Righteous obedience to God is conducive to longer life. The sons of Eli serve as a prime examples (1 Sam. 3:13). As well as the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-3). Not to mention the forty-two young men who foolishly mocked God’s prophet, Elisha and were tore to pieces by two she bears (2 Kings 5). An obedient and respectful child will experience less accidents and physical trauma from such things as high places and sharp objects. They will be more likely to develop healthy character traits, whereas a disobedient child is much more likely to develop harmful patterns. They will steer clear of bad companions (1 Cor. 15:33). They will be less likely to get into altercations with the civil authorities such as the police. Many may be able to avoid car accidents. Wilburn Fields said, “A child s who is not taught to obey his parents has a head start on the road to delinquency, crime, and hell”
Problems with juvenile delinquency continues to plague our schools and communities. Public education and government legislation is not the answer. Regeneration of hearts with the re-institution of His laws for children is the only way to turn our society around and save this nation. Parents must first realize that they only have a brief time to raise their children to being respectful and obedient.
Children can also make a difference. Remember, Samuel’s close relationship to the Lord started when he was very young. King Josiah instigated spiritual revival in Judah when he was still a teenager. David was but a boy when the Lord first used him to take down a giant threatening God’s people. Queen Esther was a young woman when she saved the Jews from annihilation. Daniel and his three friends were young men when they refused to disobey the God of Israel. Even Jesus obeyed his earthly parents. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Eccl. 12:1).
– Daniel R. Vess