By April Lorier
Honoring my mother went against my human nature. She was an abusive mother. But I did honor her and I was also kind to her until the day she died. When I wrote about it recently, I was shocked at the emails and comments I received. So many people wrote, telling me all kinds of stories, trying to convince me their experiences and their pains were "unique". It made me wonder why they thought their experience was so much worse than anyone else's. Pain is pain!
I've been thinking about it since Mother's Day, and I'm realizing that many do not really understand what it means to honor their parents! Either they have not studied their Bibles (I recommend Life Application Study Bible NIV ) or the previous generations have not taught them what it means to HONOR. Thus, this article.
Honoring your father and mother is the respectful words and actions that stems from an inward attitude of esteem for their positions, not their personalities!
Definition of "honor"
The Greek word honor means to revere, prize, and value. Honor is giving respect not only for merit but also for rank. For example, some Americans may disagree with the President's decisions, but they should still respect his position as leader of their country. Similarly, children of all ages should honor their parents - regardless of whether their parents "deserve" honor or not. (My mother certainly did not "deserve" it!)
Biblical basis of honoring parents
God is the One who exhorts us to honor father and mother. He values honoring parents enough to include it in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:12) and again in the New Testament: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1-3).
In Old Testament days, speaking evil against one's parents or rebelling against their instruction resulted in capital punishment (Exodus 21:15-17; Matthew 15:14)! While those who honor their parents are blessed (Jeremiah 35:18-19), a trait of both a reprobate and a person in the end times is disobedience to parents (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2).
Solomon, the wisest man, urged children to respect their parents (Proverbs 1:8; 13:1; 30:17). Although you may not be directly under their authority right now, you can't outgrow God's command to honor parents.
Even Jesus, God the Son, submitted Himself to both His earthly parents and heavenly Father (Matthew 26:39; Luke 2:51). Following Christ's example, Christians should treat their parents the way they would reverentially approach their heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:9; Malachi 1:6).
Honoring inside and out
Obviously, we're commanded to honor our parents but how? Honor them with not just your actions, but also with your attitudes (Mark 7:6). Honor their unspoken as well as spoken wishes. "A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a scorner does not hear rebuke." (Proverbs 13:1).
In Matthew 15:3-9, Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the command of God to honor their father and mother. They were obeying the letter of the law, but they had added their own traditions that essentially overruled it. While they honored their parents in word, their actions proved their real heart motive. Honor is more than mere lip service. The word honor in this passage is a verb and, hence, demands a right choice/action.
The word honor includes the idea of bringing glory to someone. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that whatever we say or do, we are to do all to the glory of God. We should seek to honor our parents in a similar way that Christians strive to bring glory to God in their thoughts, words, and actions.
Does honor include obedience?
The Greek word "hypakouo" means to obey, to listen, or to heed. When a child is of minor age, then obeying parents runs hand and hand with honoring parents. That includes listening, heeding, and submitting to their authority. After a child is mature, the obedience that they learned as a child will serve them well in honoring authorities such as government and employers.
While we're required to honor parents, that doesn't include imitating ungodly ones (Ezekiel 20:18-19). What if your parents ask you to do something wrong? In that unlikely case, you must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:28).
The rewards of honor - Honor begets Honor
The command to honor parents is the only command with a promise: "that it may be well with you" (Ephesians 6:3). Honor begets honor. God will not honor those who will not obey His command to honor their parents.
If you desire to please God and be blessed, honor your parents. Honoring isn't easy, isn't always fun, and certainly isn't possible in our own strength. But honor is a certain path to our purpose in life: glorifying God. "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord." (Colossians 3:20).
In short, honor is more about attitude than lip service - honor for your parents' position as your parents. It does not matter what their faults are, they are still superior to you by position, and if you want God's blessings, you must honor your parents!
2008 April Lorier
APRIL LORIER - So. California. An award-winning poet, inspirational author and speaker. A survivor of both child abuse and adult domestic abuse, April inspires women to be all that God designed them to be! She first gained recognition as a children's rights crusader while successfully fighting for the passage of the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), which was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. Her book GOD'S BATTERED CHILD is available on her blogs and at online retailers.