Honor Your Parents

Honor Your Parents

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
—Exodus 20:12

From Sigmund Freud to Dr. Phil, it seems psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors all agree on the profound impact our relationship with our parents has on our lives. As a pastor, I can say that how people relate to their parents often determines how they relate in every other relationship, including their relationship with God.

And this is nothing new. God understood the importance of the parent-child relationship. It’s no accident that the first commandment that addresses human relationships deals with that parent-child relationship.

The Ten Commandments are divided into two sections. The first four commandments deal with our relationship to God. The remaining six commandments deal with our relationships to one another. There is a pattern here: Only when we’re in a right relationship with God can we have healthy relationships with others. This week we will look at the parent-child relationship: “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).

Of all human relationships, God chooses to address the family first of all. There are five reasons the family is important. First, the family was the basic unit of Israel’s society just as it is the basic unit of our society. As goes the home, so goes a nation.

Second, of all family relationships, the parent-child relationship is the most challenging. The relationship between a parent and a child is the only relationship we maintain throughout our entire lifetime. It has more potential for love and joy, hate and sorrow than any other relationship we enter into.

Third, the parent-child relationship is the birthplace of our self-esteem. How we think of ourselves largely is determined by our parents. It is from our parents that we learn our worth. Our parents’ acceptance or rejection of us makes an indelible impact on our future.

Fourth, it’s in the home that children learn their attitudes toward authority. Hopefully, children learn that there are certain boundaries to their actions. In the parent-child relationship a child learns there are expectations that must be met. And how a child relates to his parents also determines how he relates later on to other authority figures, whether teachers or employers or governing authorities. Ultimately it determines how they relate to God Himself.

Fifth, it is in the home where children form their values. A child learns to value what his parent values in life. If the parent values money or education or recreation or athletics, then the child soon picks up on that. Or it is from the parent that a child learns the most important thing in life is serving God. The child will carry those values into adulthood.

By the way, it’s no accident that the Hebrew word for “parents” is horim, which is the root from which we also get the word teacher. The parent is and remains the first and foremost teacher a child will ever have. Therefore, the first human relationship God addresses is that between the parent and the child.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Working Ourselves to Death” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.