"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD ... is giving you." Ex. 20:12
It might come as a surprise to many of us that this commandment is not age-specific. It's a commandment not just for the young but for children of all ages. God asks that parents be worthy of honor in the way they relate to their children. And God commands that children obey and show respect for their parents in line with doing what is right. This means both are to act appropriately at each stage of their lives together.
This commandment came to a society without the support systems that many of us are used to. Adult children were totally responsible to look after aging parents. God reminds us that as long as we have parents, we are to honor them, seeing that their living is respectable and they are well cared for. It's not just a matter of doing what our parents tell us to do when we are young. It's a matter of showing life-long honor to the parents who gave us life, raised us, and launched us on life's journey.
The apostle Paul calls this "the first commandment with a promise." God indicates that when we honor the parents with whom we are in relationship, he will honor us. Some parents are easier to honor than others. But respecting those whom the Lord has chosen to place over us opens a door to blessing. By honoring our parents and others whom God places in authority over us, we honor our Father in heaven.
You call us, Lord, to honor parents not for what they have done but for who they are, even if they are not easy to love. Help us do that well, for your, their, and our sake. Amen.
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