–Originally published on FWB21 May 6, 2011–
Does it ever seem strange to those of you who are parents that we are the ones who have to teach our kids to honor us? There have been times that I feel quite uncomfortable demanding that my son honor and obey me, for I am keenly aware of my own shortcomings and inconsistencies. It is those times that I have to remind myself that it is not I who demand honor and obedience, but God:
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Deut. 5:16
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Eph. 6:1-3
Have you ever thought about why we are commanded to honor our parents?
It’s a bit easier to look at the situation as parents, instead of as children. As a parent, when I teach my child to obey and honor me, I am teaching him how to obey and honor God. When a child grows up with a heart trained in obedience and respect, he can more easily continue those heart-habits toward God as an adult. Teaching our children God’s command to honor and obey is God’s provision to help us raise up godly families who “keep the Faith.”
So, now considering the issue from the perspective of a child, does the command to honor still apply to us as adults? Though Paul seems to draw the command specifically to children in conjunction with the command to obey, Moses’ original charge to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy makes no such distinction. The command in verse 16 follows the command in verse 15:
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
It was most certainly the adults to whom Moses was speaking. So to what end could showing honor to parents possibly serve? To set forth an example of honoring previous generations so that faithfulness might persist to further generations. When children grow up having their hearts trained in obedience to God and in honor to their parents, and they also see that obedience and honor modeled before them, they are more likely to decide to follow suit, perpetuating the cycle.
So this Mother’s Day, go out of your way to honor your mother, especially if you have children, and even more especially if you have a mother who trained you in obedience to God. After all, it’s what God would have you do.