The Ten: Honor the ‘Rents

“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)

For some reason, nearly everyone I’ve ever met went through a season (short or long or endless) of thinking this command from God is on the “optional” list. I know I spent a semester or two feeling that way. It’s not optional, of course. In fact, it gets repeated word for word in Ephesians 6:1-3. God takes “honor your parents” extremely seriously.

theten_350One problem is we don’t really know what “honor” means. We understand when we’re obeying and disobeying – and we know that’s wrong, even when we choose to do it, anyway. But honor means to treat someone as if they are worthy of respect. It means, in a way, to act as if they outrank you.

But what if they don’t deserve respect? What if, in fact, they deserve exactly the opposite of respect because they haven’t been good to you or others? Yeah, God doesn’t mention that. He doesn’t give us any way out of the command. He just says, “Honor them,” meaning, “Be respectful, kind, gracious, forgiving, honest, and decent to them.”

It’s a hard thing to do sometimes. But God wants us to trust him enough to do the hard things he tells us to do even when we don’t get why, even when it costs us something, even when it hurts. Honoring them is one way we honor him.

Think: On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being hardest), how hard is it for you to honor your parents lately? What makes it hard? Why does it matter that we do it anyway?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust him enough to honor your parents.

Do: Ask a parent or two what this command means to them. Then ask how they think they did at honoring their own parents. Be ready for an interesting conversation.