“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise 3 that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1–3 (ESV)
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12 (ESV)“
We are to honor our own father and mother. And this honor consists not only in respectful demeanor, but in this: that we obey them, look up to, esteem and heed their words and example, accept what they say, keep silent and endure their treatment of us, so long as it is not contrary to the first three Commandments; in addition, when they need it, that we provide them with food, clothing and shelter.” –Martin Luther
What does the Bible means when it says “honor your father and mother?” The word honor (τιμάω; timao) is a present, active imperative verb. It is a command from God. It means to show respect and to give recognition of an object’s high status. Believers in Christ are to honor God (I Samuel 2:30; I Peter 3:15). In this context, God commands children to honor their parents.
God gives this command and a reason for it: “this is the first commandment with a promise” Exodus 20:12 provides the promise: “that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
In the context of Exodus 20:12, God gave the promise through Moses to the Nation of Israel when they would enter and occupy the land the LORD was going to give them. The specific promise was for long days in the land God would give them. This promise continues, not only in the first century Roman world in which Paul lived, but also in today’s world.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Ancient Roman society, like most cultures throughout history, believed that children should listen to their parents and respect their elders. Indeed, no one can escape what the created order tells us about the propriety of kids obeying their mothers and fathers. Yet Scripture uniquely addresses children directly, commanding them as individuals with a moral sense of what they should and should not do. This elevates children from the status of mere possessions to persons, conferring upon them a dignity and worth not always given to them in unbelieving societies. Kids are not chattel who can be treated any way their parents like.”
How can children honor their parents, even when a child is an adult? One way is to provide for one’s parents as they become older and need physical assistance. For approximately a year and a half, my wife’s mother lived in our home. She could no longer live alone due to her increasing physical infirmities. My wife cooked, cleaned, and took her mom to various appointments. She also took care of her mom’s financial and personal needs. My wife truly showed honor to her mom up to, and even following, her mom’s home going to heaven.
How may you, even as an adult, show honor to your parents today?
Soli deo Gloria!