Honor Thy Father and Mother…

Posted on September 15, 2014


The one of the Ten Commandments that comes with a promise is the one that tells us to do something as opposed to not do something and that commandment is about honor to our parents.  This passage gives us that promise to have a long life if give honor to our fathers and our mothers.

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

This is an easy verse for those that have a great relationship with their parents and find it easy to spend time with them and the time is generally a great experience.  Those that do not have a great relationship or lives a great distance from their parents this is not such an easy commandment to keep.  There are also those that have or know of situations where people appeared to do just what the passage says yet their life was short, and those around ask why?

What is Honor?

The word for honor in the Old Testament Hebrew is a very similar word to the word glory, Kabod pronounced Kaw-bad.  The word is mostly translated as honor, but often it is translated as glorified.  Just as we give honor and glory to God, God is saying a measure of glory and honor is to be given to our parents.  The root of the word is very interesting and with slight changes to the Hebrew word you get liver, yes liver.  Why liver? The liver is the largest or heaviest organ in the body and this word speaks to the weight or volume of our honor in life and where it should be placed.

Commandment Number Five

Why the fifth commandment? I believe every time we find a list in the word of God is listed in priority, God’s priority! Even in the Book of Mark when the disciples are listed, Peter is first, followed by James and John, the three at the mount of transfiguration, with Judas being last. So God begins the Ten Commandments with our relationship to Him, no other gods, no images, don’t use his name in vain, and keeping of the Sabbath.  He begins the list of commandments that involve relationship with other people telling us to do something first, then five more things to never do. Following the way God’s way of giving us lists and the order of importance, giving honor to our parents carries more weight than avoiding being a thief or liar.

How Do We Honor?

Sadly we are living in a time when honor is so miss-guided that people and actions that should be honored are not and many people and things that should receive little honor receive great amounts of honor. I love technology but it’s a shame when one of the most honorable stories this past week was the release of the new Apple products.  Musicians, vocalists, and sports figures are among those that receive the greatest honor in our culture, yes even among Christians. Back to the root word, Kabod, we must give more weight or could we say percentage of our praise, first to God, then secondly to our parents. I believe we all honor God, people and things differently so we should never feel like you have to honor in the same way other people honor. I will warn you that if something other than God makes you stand to your feet, raise your voice, give your money, and claps your hands then you have some misguided honor in your life already.  Your children, close friends, and those that you attend church with should all know that you appreciate your parents, if for nothing else but that God used them to create you.

Less Than Perfect Parents

Here is the part where you say “But.” Jesus was perfect and no one else, none of us or our parents are perfect, but our parents are our only true parents and we would not be here if it were not for both of them.  None of us are mistakes either, God is a great God and each one of us nor matter how we came into this world is loved of God and God can use us, even a child of rape or incest.  After “but” comes, “you don’t know what they did to me.” We are not to honor the bad behavior but their place as a parent. Honoring doesn’t mean placing yourself in a place that you know you will be hurt nor does it mean that you shouldn’t have some faith to take God directed risks to see some things get healed either. These difficult matters are to pray about and know that God is always leading us to healing and restoration. I often say when your child turns about eighteen; you have had enough experience to be a good parent, everything before that was an experiment.  Parenting is tough, period!


Unfortunately over my life and in recent times I have been exposed to parents dis-owning children, children dis-owning parents, siblings dis-owning each other, all of which, no matter what the circumstances it is heart breaking. First to lay a foundation to a person being excommunicated from another’s life, what people commonly teach and do this? Traditional religious people are the most noted for this. We hear of stories where a Muslim woman married a Christian man and she is dis-owned by her family, she becomes a part of the infidels.  She is no less than them and is hopeless in the point of view and not worth spending any time on.  Furthermore, the banning of her sends a notice to others that may slip up in their life what they will have coming to them.  This is not the heart of God in any shape or form. Remember the father let the prodigal go but was watching daily for his return and forgave the prodigal immediately no matter what he did. Banning people from your life is from a position of pride and arrogance, even callousness toward the life of another.  Again if a person has a problem with drinking, violence, sexual sin, or is even just plain old cantankerous, God doesn’t wish to put us in harm’s way but we should take steps to remain connected in safe environments on occasion. Love is a much more powerful tool to reach someone that banning them from your life.

The Memory of…

We can still even honor a mother or father that is no longer with us. Again our honor is for God using them in any positive way that blessed our lives with them and most of for God using them to bring us into this world.

The Whole Council of God

We need to put this verse in context.  The second half of the verse says that you may live long upon the land God gave you. As always God’s promises are a part of being in His will, listening to His voice, obeying His word.  If all you ever did in life was honor your parents but ignored God’s plan for your life, this promise has not been fulfilled. Additionally the word long is translated other places as lengthen or prolonged. This speaks to our lives gaining extra years or time, more than they would have been in God’s plan.  The exact number is not known but we must trust the Word and promises of God and not being honoring for my life, but because it is pleasing to God.


Take some action even today to honor your parents. Billions of dollars and thousands of hours are spent by people attempting to live a longer life when God has made us a wonderful promise of an extended life if we honor our parents.

Posted in: Edification