Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father.
Let’s look at what the Fifth Commandment means: “Honor your father and your mother.” There are plenty of scriptures that talk about the responsibilities parents have toward their children. For example, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” And Deuteronomy 6:6 says we are to teach our children diligently and talk about God’s commandments with them. We have a responsibility to train up our children correctly.
But the Fifth Commandment is about the responsibility children have to their parents. Exodus 20:12 states we are to honor our father and our mother. This word “honor” is a word we also sometimes translate as “glorify.” It has the same root word that means to make heavy, to make weighty, to make substantive. When we glorify God we give Him weight; we give Him substance; we are saying He is worthy of our praise. And in the same way, when we honor our parents we give them weight or importance. We hold them in high esteem; we reverence them.
God places a premium on obeying our parents. Why this heavy emphasis on revering parents? First, God knew that anarchy in the home would ultimately result in anarchy in the nation. The key to a strong nation is a strong family. By the way, that’s why this is the first commandment with a promise attached to it. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Now, this is not a promise that if you obey your parents you’re going to live longer. Although I guess, if you were a rebellious teenager in Israel, if you obeyed your parents you probably would live longer! This commandment is not talking about the individual life of a person; it’s saying that a nation that obeys this law will survive longer in the land that God has given to it. God blesses a culture that honors its parents. This is a corporate promise.
Second, God places this premium on obeying our parents because our attitude toward our parents mirrors our attitude toward God. And I use that word “mirror” on purpose. Your attitude toward your earthly parents not only shapes your attitude toward God, but it also reflects your attitude toward God. How you think about your parents determines how you think about God, and how you think about God affects how you think about your parents. It’s a reflective relationship. For example in 2 Timothy 3:1–2, Paul talks about some characteristics of the last days. He says, “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.” One of the marks of falling away from the faith is disobedience toward parents.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Honoring Your Parents,” 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.