Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”
This gem is one of the very first passages of Scripture that I learned as a new Christian. Seeing as how I was six or seven years old at the time, it makes perfect sense that my believing parents would encourage me to memorize it.
When I was a girl, it was the word “obey” that caught my attention and caused me frustration. Obedience is tough! Now that I’m the momma, it’s honor that I’m after, respect from my children that goes beyond the fulfillment of a request. That’s tough, too, especially once you leave home!
Read the passage again. “Honor your father and mother” is a quote within a quote. Taken from Exodus 20, it is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. Though the command above to “obey your parents” is addressed to “children,” the excerpt from Exodus contains no such noun of direct address.
What does that mean? No matter your age, God expects you to honor your parents. How do you do that now that you’re grown? Here are some practical suggestions.
1. Listen. When you were young, communication with your parents was probably a little one-sided. Now that you are grown, you and your parents have the opportunity to be mutual friends. Let them talk. Consider their words. Resist the urge to argue, defend, and dismiss.
2. Give. With gratitude to God, show generosity toward your parents. Give of your time, attention, affection, and resources as reasonable and appropriate. When the occasion calls for it and you are able, spoil them a little.
3. Affirm. Every parent makes mistakes. Odds are they are painfully aware of most of them. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, not yours. Instead, encourage them. Tell them what they did right and thank them for it with sincerity.
4. Apologize. When you make a mistake or when you realize a past mistake, own up to it and ask your parents to forgive you. Don’t assume that they know you are sorry or that they will forgive you without your asking.
5. Forgive. Parents are people. They say and do things that hurt other people sometimes, their children most of all if only because their children live closest to the vortex of their imperfect lives. Forgive them as God has forgiven you.
Granted, some of these actions can be very difficult to perform, especially if your parents do not reciprocate your efforts, do not set an example that you can follow in these areas, or continue to treat you as a child rather than the adult that you feel you’ve become.
When you find yourself struggling to keep the fifth, remember the following verses.
“…For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” Colossians 3:23
Your parents may never recognize the effort that you make to honor them. They may never thank you for your love, devotion, or your obedience to the Lord in this matter, but rest assured that God sees. He will reward you for your faithfulness.
“…Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:4