12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
God told the people of Israel that they were to honor their parent in order to have a long life in the land God was going to give to them. Think about the inverse. If they didn’t honor their parents, they would lose the land they were given by God. As a matter of fact, that is what happened. In Ezekiel 22, God listed the reasons for bringing judgment on the people of Israel. There are many things listed; many vile things that were happening in the land of Israel. The list of dirty deeds is X-rated. In the list of things, we find this verse:
Father and mother are treated with contempt, and the resident alien is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you.
God ranked dishonoring your parents with things like adultery, incest, bribery, extortion, exploitation, oppression, and murder. You might be thinking, “well, okay, but that is in the Old Testament. We have the New Testament now.” Well, okay, just in case Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 15 is not enough, look at Ephesians 6.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.
“Honor” means “weight or heaviness.” The word means to “attach significance.” We say, “He is worth his weight in gold.” We mean that we are attaching value and significance to someone. Honor is not simply an action; although it can include actions. Honor is a state of mind. Honor requires different actions at different times. Honoring your parents takes different forms at different times.
For example, when we are young, honoring our parents is about obedience and submission. No matter what your age, if you are still living at home, regardless of your age, being supported by your parents, to honor your parents is to obey them and submit to them.
As we age and move out on our own, how we honor our parents changes. Honoring our parents is about listening to their counsel, treating them kindly, and giving them respect. Honoring your parents doesn’t have an expiration date. The Bible doesn’t say honor your parents until you are 26 and roll off of their insurance. The Bible doesn’t say honor your parents until you move out or get married. Honoring your parents changes, but the expectation from God is that we always honor our parents.
As our parents age, honoring them takes on a new element. Honoring your parents becomes about caring for them and providing for their needs.
The command is a life-long command. How we honor our parents changes over time, but the command always remains to honor your father and your mother. Honoring your parents (not cleanliness) is next to godliness.
Teaching honor begins at home. Teaching respect begins at home. I believe a major symptom of societal collapse is directly correlated to how that society treats their parents. Why do I think that? Look at Exodus 20:12 again.
Realize this: The same promise given to the Israelites in Exodus is reiterated in the New Testament for us today. What I believe this teaches us is that No nation or culture can survive whose people do not honor their parents. Long life in the land is not an individual promise. It is a national promise. The implication is that long life in the land can happen only so long as people are honoring their fathers and mothers.
St. Augustine said, “It’s your parents you see when you first open your eyes, and it is their friendship that lays down the first strands of this life. If anyone fails to honor his parents, is there anyone he will spare?”
If children aren’t taught to honor their parents and do not see their parents honoring their parents, how can we expect them to honor their bosses, law enforcement, the rights of others, leaders, or the president.
Your children are learning how to honor from you. As parents, we must live lives worthy of honor. Our behaviors should be honorable. How we teach our children should be honorable. Our example should be honorable. We are losing this nation and culture quicker than we think. Perhaps the damage done is too great; perhaps not, but if it is going to change, it is going to start at home. It is going to start in your family and in my family. We are going to have to teach our children, so they can teach it to their children and their children’s children. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of seeing people dishonor other people. So, you know what I am going to do. I am going to teach my children to honor their parents and I am going to commit to honor my parents. I pray you will do the same.