The Fourth Commandment carries with it a promise. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
I’ve spent some time recently looking at “honor” and what it means. My Bible’s study notes says it means to “prize highly, care for, show respect for, and obey.”
Luther’s Small Catechism puts it this way, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”
So what does this look like? As small children, top priority might be given to “show respect for” and “serve and obey”, but as we mature our parents spend less time giving orders for us to obey and we move to a point where “love and cherish” and “care for” take a more prominent role.
But what if there are some hurts from the past that get in the way of loving or cherishing our parents? What if caring for (directly) is more than you can do at this point in your life? Can you still Honor Your Father and Mother?
Absolutely! But often it will take some work on your part to let God heal your wounds, or help you find a way for your parents to be cared for in their final years. And I think you need to check your manger to see if there is some clutter that is getting in the way.
You may have been hurt and you hold on to the pain and unforgiveness, that is clutter. You may feel guilt for the choices you’ve made, bring them to God and let Him shine His light on the subject. You may find you were justified and should not feel guilty…not everything our parents may ask us to do is God-pleasing. Or you may find that you were being selfish or dis-honoring and you need to rectify the situation before the guilty feelings will go away. Let God’s Spirit speak to you.
Are there some things in your manger regarding your parents or other authority figures in your life that you need to remove? To make room for Jesus, do you need to de-clutter past hurts, guilty feelings, unkind or unfair thoughts. Remember to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this process.
Abba, Father, at times it is hard to love and cherish or care for our parents. Guide us in our actions that all that we do in regards to our parents is honoring to them. Do not let us rebel against the authorities you have put in our lives, but respect and obey when it is God-honoring. In the loving name of Jesus, amen.