BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12 Amplified Bible).
Honouring one’s parents is one of the key teachings of the Bible that children, especially children from Christian homes, are taught. But it is not a teaching for only children still living with their parents; it is a teaching relevant throughout life. Everyone, whether young or old, should honour his or her parents. This is the fifth in the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NKJV).
This commandment is so important that it is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:16. It is also so important that the Lord Jesus Christ referred to it (Matthew 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20). The Apostle Paul also referred to this commandment in Ephesians 6:2-3. This fifth commandment is the first commandment with a promise – the promise of a long and full life. “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NLT). A violation of this commandment could bring someone under the curse of premature death.
What honouring your parents means
Looking at the translation of Exodus 20:12 in the Amplified Bible, I want to talk about three things that honouring one’s father and mother entails.
1. It means to treat your father and mother with respect. You should hold them in high esteem publicly and privately, before them, and behind them. Have regard for them. Talk to them respectfully and talk about them responsibly. Don’t treat your parents dishonourably, no matter what.
Don’t dishonour your father or mother as the people of Judah did in the days of prophet Micah. “For son dishonors father, daughter rises against her mother” (Micah 7:6a NKJV)
Ham disrespected his father, Noah, by not covering his father’s nakedness. Instead, he went to call his brothers’ attention to it. Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan, because of this (Genesis 9:20-27). A good son covers his father’s nakedness; he doesn’t spread the news. He doesn’t ridicule his parents.
Reuben also dishonoured his father. He didn’t show respect for his father when he went to sleep with Bilhah, his father’s wife or concubine (Genesis 35:22). Bilhah was the maid of the beloved wife of Jacob, Rachel, whom she gave to Jacob. Reuben was the son of Leah, Rachel’s rival and sister. What Reuben did was a slap in his father’s face. There is no record that his father rebuked Reuben when he committed this evil. But on the day he was supposed to bless him, he cursed him. “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, Because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it — He went up to my couch” (Genesis 49:3-4 NKJV). The first position was taken away from him! “You shall not excel” (Genesis 49:4 NKJV). “[Reuben], you are my firstborn, my strength, the very first son I had, first in majesty and first in power. You will no longer be first because you were out of control like a flood and you climbed into your father’s bed. Then you dishonored it. He climbed up on my couch” (Genesis 49:3-4 GWT).
Also, Absalom dishonoured his father, King David. He deposed him and slept with his concubines (2 Samuel 16:21-22). The consequence was premature death. Joab got him killed and his rebellion was quelled (2 Samuel 18:9-17). Remember that the reward of honouring your father and mother is long life.
2. It means to obey them in all things. Obey your parents in all things. But this obedience is to the extent that it doesn’t make you disobey God. But no matter the case, still respect them.
King Asa deposed his grandmother, Maacah or Maachah, as queen mother, and this is a good example of how to strike a balance between honour for parents and honour for God. He deposed her for promoting idolatry, and idolatry is a violation of the commandment of God. “King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley” (2 Chronicles 15:16 NIV).
You cannot promote honour for parents (who are in error) above obedience to the Word of God. Jesus says in Luke 14:26: “Those who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me more than they love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and themselves as well” (GNT).
Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (NKJV). The Amplified Bible renders it thus: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord [that is, accept their guidance and discipline as His representatives], for this is right [for obedience teaches wisdom and self-discipline].”
Also, Colossians 3:20 talks about obeying one’s parents in all things. “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (NKJV). The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “Children, obey your parents [as God’s representatives] in all things, for this [attitude of respect and obedience] is well-pleasing to the Lord [and will bring you God’s promised blessings].” But as I have said, obeying parents in all things does not include doing what will amount to disobedience to God. In that case, you must show that you love God more than you love them. Peter and the other apostles answered the Sanhedrin, “We ought to obey God rather than me” (Acts 5:29 NKJV). You may have to disobey your parents to obey God but never fail to accord them maximum respect.
Those who refuse to acknowledge God will, among other evils, disobey their parents (Romans 1:30). Disobedience to parents is rife today because it is one of the sins of the last days (2 Timothy 3:2).
Children who are still under parental discipline must not rebel and continue in disobedience. This is, in the Old Testament, a serious sin punishable by death. “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NKJV).
Jesus not only emphasized, in His teaching, the need to obey father and mother, but He also exemplified it. After His earthly father and mother discovered He was missing from their company, and found Him, the Bible says He followed them home and was submitted to them. He didn’t stay back, going about His father’s business; He went home with them (Luke 2:41-51). Listen to your parents; obey them. “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding” (Proverbs 4:1 NKJV). Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (NKJV).
3. It means to care for them. It is not enough to show your parents respect, show them courtesy, talk to them respectfully publicly and privately, obey them, etc. You should also care for or provide for them. You need to support them with finances and material things. Jesus condemned the practice of claiming to have given to God what people ought to provide for their parents (Matthew 15:4-6; Mark 7:10-13). This is hypocrisy. You should give to God what is due to Him, and also give to your father and mother what is due to them. You should not be living in affluence while your parents are wallowing in abject poverty.
Esau provided Isaac with savory food which made his father want to bless him (Genesis 25:28; 27:3-4). Eventually, it was Jacob who received the blessing having brought his father venison before Esau arrived from the field. Though Isaac was not convinced that it was Esau he was talking with, but Jacob, he still went ahead to bless the person who gave him the savory food he ate. That was Jacob, not Esau whom he wanted to bless (Genesis 27:26-29). Provide for your parents; let them bless you. Don’t abandon them. If you abandon them, you can’t say you honour them.
Conclusion: Let me conclude with Jesus’ example. On the cross, before He died, Jesus showed that all along He had been taking care of His mother. Before He died, He entrusted His mother to John, the disciple He loved, His favorite disciple, to take care of.
John 19:26-27 says, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (NKJV). Jesus’ reference to Mary, His earthly mother, as “woman” was not disrespectful.
Although she had other children, there is no mention that any of them was there where He was crucified. Jesus was Mary’s eldest child, and, at this time, the Bible says nothing about Joseph, Mary’s husband. It was likely that he was dead. The brothers of Jesus did not believe in Him during His earthly ministry (John 7:5). They only believed after His resurrection (Acts 1:14) and James and Jude, His brothers, later wrote the New Testament books named after them. Jesus said in Matthew 12:50 that whoever did the will of His Father in heaven was His brother, sister, and mother. Therefore, John, to whom He committed the care of His mother, was His brother. John is believed to be the only disciple who died a natural death. He died at an old age. Probably the responsibility to take care of Mary had something to do with this.
Jesus, on the cross, made an arrangement to care for His mother. Care for your parents too. Don’t let them suffer. Honour your father and mother so that they can bless you and so that it shall be well with you and you shall live a long, full life.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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