"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12 (Deut. 5:16)
This commandment of the LORD requires us to honor our parents as our God-given representatives. Children are to obey their parents, and parents -- especially fathers -- are to bring up their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21; Deut. 6:4-9).
And notice that this commandment contains a reason to obey -- a promise: "that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:3).
What does it mean? Well, to disobey and dishonor our parents brings us all sorts of trouble and usually leads to disobeying our teachers in school, our pastors at church, and our government leaders, resulting in a troubled life and often spiritual and eternal death. And, God punishes those who disrespect and disobey their parents and promises blessing and long life to those who obey and respect their parents and others in authority over them (cf. Prov. 30:17; Rom. 13:2).
This command, too, extends to others whom God has placed over us in civil government, the church, and at work and in school.
The Bible tells us: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Rom. 13:1); and, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:17; cf. 1 Pet. 2:17ff.; Eph. 6:5ff.; Col. 3:18ff.).
The only exception to God's command to honor and obey parents is that "we ought to obey God rather than men" when there exists a conflict between the will of parents and other authorities and the will of God Himself (Acts 5:29).
And this commandment does not end when we are grown because the Bible also commands us to honor and care for our parents in their old age.
1 Timothy 5:4 says to grown children: "Let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God."
Children sin against God when they disobey their parents and do not show them the honor and respect which God requires. Parents, too, are guilty of sin when they do not bring up their children to know the LORD and His ways. All of us are guilty when we do not submit to our government and its laws in all matters except where they contradict God's Word. And, we are guilty when we do not heed the admonitions of our pastors and spiritual leaders when they rightly apply God's Word to our lives.
How thankful we can be that Jesus Christ kept this commandment perfectly for us, not only in deed but in word and desire! The Scriptures tell us that He submitted Himself to His parents and honored them (Luke 2:51; cf. John 19:25-27). And, how thankful we can be that Jesus also bore upon the cross the just punishment for our sin (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 John 2:1ff.)! Through faith in Him, we sinners find pardon and forgiveness. In Him, we find strength and guidance to amend our ways and live in accord with God's will and command.
Dear Lord Jesus, Son of God and our Savior, forgive our sins against the perfect will of You, our God and Maker, and give us the desire to live our lives for You in accord with Your holy Word. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings are freely available at https://goodshepherdonline.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]