10 Mar 2021
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you
Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
This week we celebrate Mothering Friday or Sunday depending on which country you happen to be in. The fifth commandment is the first commandment that dictates how we are to treat our neighbor. It instructs us particularly on how to treat our parents, who are usually the first people to teach us about societal relations. They are usually the first ones to provide shelter, nourishment, protection, education and moral training. They are our introduction to all types of authority which eventually can also spill over into reverence for God, respect for authority and righteous living. It is therefore natural that in most cultures filial piety is a common theme.
Let’s look at the three parts of this commandment.
Part 1: “ Honour”: So what does it mean to honour? I came across this fairly all-encompassing definition (if you throw in love somewhere) that explains it well; “an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence, it should be accompanied by appropriate attention or even obedience.” Enough said. How can we honour them? By working for their good; serving them lovingly, maintaining good relationships and providing for them (1 Tim 5:8).
Part 2: “your father and your mother”. The commandment does not necessarily literally mean only your parents. It includes father-figures mother-figures and figures of authority who are representatives of God (“For all authority comes from God…” Romans 13:1). Also, it does not command us to honour _good/ virtuous_ parents, it’s a blanket commandment for _all_ parents. This can be a challenge especially where one may have been ill-treated or neglected. However we must do this as it is “well-pleasing to the Lord” (Col 3:20).
Part 3: “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” This is the first commandment with a promise (Ep 6:2). We are told to expect a long life in God's kingdom in terms of longevity as a reward for obeying this command but possibly also in terms of fulfillment.
To put it in all into perspective, we are called to honour those who were chosen to carry out God's plan for our creation, our parents.
Our Heavenly Father, thank you for our parents, parental figures and authority figures in our lives who have moulded us to be who we are today. Forgive us for where we have failed to honour them as You commanded. May we, from today onwards, remember to treat them in ways that will be pleasing to You. In Jesus name. Amen