To honor parents

It’s Monday Grace!

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)

“But, but, but…”

I recently watched a video testimony of a woman who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her father. Her mother knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it. I have read accounts of child actors whose parents wasted the money the children earned. I have counseled people whose parents were neglectful or abusive. I have had to call law enforcement on parents whose discipline went too far.

“But you don’t know my parents!”

When some people hear the command to honor their father and mother, they truly struggle. How do you honor someone who was abusive or corrupt? How can this commandment apply to their lives?

Yet, God gave this command to His people. He knew that many parents were broken and caused suffering for their children. All we have to do is read the Scriptures to see that. There are a lot of lousy parents and broken families in the Bible. Our sin hurts the people close to us.

At the same time, there is a principle in this command that flows through Scripture and connects with the message of grace. You see, it isn’t only our parents we should honor, but our ancestors and leaders and mentors and all of those who made us who we are.

There is no such thing as a “self-made man.” There are people who rose above their circumstances, who overcame great challenges, who stood against the flow of evil in their families or organizations to do right. There are people who have shown strength beyond what their stories might suggest, but we are all products of the many streams of character that have come into our lives. Some were strong and good. Others were broken, perhaps even evil. But something has come together to make us who we are.

The principle here is that we should honor these various sources and thank God for working them together for good in us. The path to strength and to the Lord was given to us in this amazing concoction of teachings, genes, and life lessons. Whatever we think we have in ourselves has come to us through others.

In fact, the message of grace says that all we need for “life and godliness” has been given to us by the love of God in Jesus. Paul states this principle when he scolds the Corinthians for being prideful.

“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, NKJV)

Obviously, Paul is telling these folks that whatever gifts and blessings they have are from the Lord. But then he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” The answer we are supposed to understand is that all good in our lives has been given to us.

In no way am I trying to minimize the pain and struggle some have suffered at the hands (or from the mouths) of their parents. What you went through was real and your own. I am not judging your suffering or your response. What I am trying to do is explain how this command reveals the heart of God toward you.

You see, He has been calling to you from the foundation of the world. He has loved you through all your struggle. He brought you strength and healing to get this far. He is not the cause of your suffering, nor did He send it to make you into something He wants. The world in which we live and the people with whom we live are broken, and evil runs through everything and everyone. But the Lord has loved you from the beginning.

Now that you are able to look at your parents and others who either hurt or blessed you, you understand what was wrong and what was good because the Lord has brought you to that point. Even your discernment is a gift from Him. His grace allows you to stand up today in spite of those who tried to knock you down.

So, what about those abusive parents? How can you honor them? I have written on this before because so many have asked that question. I hope my response is practical and encouraging. You can find it here:


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3 responses to “To honor parents

  1. Thank you!!! I especially needed to read this today, because today is my mother’s birthday… and a scripture about honoring our father and mother was the focus of my Bible study this morning. Not by my choice, it is the featured verse for today in the daily devotional that I have been reading. Whew. Thank you!!!!!!

  2. Lina Belle

    Thank you for this… I needed to hear this today…

  3. As I wrote in my book, my life was not always pretty. Yet God was always there, and He appointed these things for my ultimate good, and for His glory. I was being shaped and molded into the man God willed me to be.

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