What a blessing God’s law is! God gave it to us to show us how to be happy and enjoy true success in life.
God gave a specific commandment to help keep our families and nations strong. It is a law that will be enforced in the Millennium, and a law that you can obey and be tremendously blessed by today. When you obey it properly, it will set you apart from your peers in the world in a most noticeable way. This law is the Fifth Commandment, and you can use it to let your light shine.
First Commandment With Promise
1. Is honoring your parents a type of honoring God? Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 22:36-37; Colossians 3:20.
In Deuteronomy 5:16, the Hebrew word for honor means abounding, rich or to promote to honor. God requires us to abound with honor for our parents in both words and deeds.
This is because your relationship to your parents is an exact type of the spiritual relationship between converted Christians and God the Father. Parents are the direct representatives of God to their children. The Fifth Commandment is a lot like the fundamental instruction for our lives in the first and primary commandment: to honor God and put nothing before Him.
The Fifth Commandment follows the first four commandments, which teach us how to honor God the Father. This makes it the bridge commandment. The Ten Commandments booklet states: “The First Commandment requires mankind to give honor to God’s high office of authority as Creator. The Fifth Commandment requires all men to honor the highest human office—that of parents. This commandment then forms the bridge between the two great sections of God’s law. We will never attain true spiritual and physical success without giving honor and obedience to God. Do we see that the same is true of our human parents?” (emphasis added throughout).
2. When the Fifth Commandment is written in the Bible, is the father always mentioned first? Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Ephesians 6:2.
Your father should hold the preeminent position in your family because he typifies God the Father. You need to obey and deeply honor your father. Fatherhood has taken a real beating for decades. Fathers are marginalized in cartoons, commercials, sitcoms and movies. They are depicted as irresponsible, dumb, lazy, incompetent and stupid. The media portray men this way and women as the complete opposite. Has this image rubbed off on you? Do you see your father as your provider, protector, love-giver, teacher and law-enforcer?
3. Does God promise to bless you if you properly honor your parents? Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3.
All laws have blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. But this is the first commandment that spells out specific promises: “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Other definitions for honor are to regard or treat someone with admiration or respect; to give special recognition to; to esteem.
To truly honor your parents takes effort. Yet it will result in undreamed of blessings and happiness. Beyond the blessing of a life of greater peace, joy and happiness—an abundant life filled with worthwhile opportunities, and a lot of angelic protection from injury and illness, even from untimely death—this promise includes wisdom and understanding, health and prosperity (Proverbs 3:2-4; 8:3; 3 John 2). Are you depriving yourself of these riches?
Here are some specific ways to better honor your parents—along with the blessings that will result from it.
Heed Their Instruction
1. Will heeding your parents’ instruction make you wise? Proverbs 1:8-9; 13:1, 18; 15:5.
Instruction refers to the knowledge you need to make wise decisions—the long-term education that will teach you why you should obey. God lives by His law and never compromises with it, even though He doesn’t fear correction or yearn for blessings. Why does God live this way? Because it is the right thing to do! Now that is long-term thinking.
Your parents have a lot more life experience than you do. They better understand the long-term effects of your actions and attitudes. Most importantly, they understand that you have the firstfruit reward awaiting you after conversion—if you choose to go after it.
Your parents’ instruction is like an ornament of grace—a crown—on your head. Genesis 41:42 shows Joseph being promoted by Pharaoh. He was given a gold chain and elegant clothing, and these things identified him as a ruler. Heeding your parents’ instruction will set you up for a position of rulership in the future—like Joseph.
Your parents’ instruction can also be correction. To properly honor your parents, you must strive to understand why you were corrected and take heed. If you look into the reasons why you were reprimanded, you will better understand what not to do in the future. Fearing your parents—holding them in reverential love and respect with a fear of disobedience—is what sets you apart from the world. It is a requirement for being holy.
There is yet another benefit of heeding your parents’ instruction: Proper respect for your parents will train you to better respect all authority (Leviticus 19:32).
Uphold Your Family Name
1. Does God pronounce a curse on children who disrespect their parents in word, action or even thought? Exodus 21:15, 17; Deuteronomy 27:16.
What you do reflects on your parents. We each carry a family name. In ancient Israel, if a child abused his parents or his family name in word or deed, he fell under the magistrate’s sentence of being put to death. Disrespecting your parents by your words or actions is a sin—comparable to disrespecting God! And though a magistrate, or person in authority over you cannot know if you are harboring contempt for your parents in your heart, God does. God, who knows men’s hearts, pronounces a curse on children who carry themselves scornfully and insolently toward their parents. In other words, God knows your attitude toward parental authority.
2. Was the punishment of physical death in ancient Israel a type of eternal death? Proverbs 20:20.
Their lamp shall be put out—they shall have no posterity; God shall cut them off. Spiritually speaking, they will die forever. This commandment might appear to be physical, but it is has eternal consequences! How important it is to learn to honor, obey and deeply respect your physical parents! If you understand this bridge commandment, then you know it has eternal consequences.
Honor Parents as Long as They Live
1. Did Jesus Christ ensure that John would take care of His human mother, Mary, after His death? John 19:26-27.
While any other man would most likely focus on self, Christ focused on obedience to the Fifth Commandment. He remembered the labor, concern and teaching His mother had given Him since infancy and extended to her the honor she deserved.
As you grow older, learn to value the work and effort your parents put in while you were younger. Within your power, strive to provide for the care of your parents until their death. As The Ten Commandments says, “The habit of obedience in youth should naturally grow into the habit of expressing deep and continual appreciation for parents. Adult children convey this kind of honor in acts of courtesy, thoughtfulness and kind actions. … When parents grow old, it is time to return the same depth of love and service. Many parents ache for the love, affection and attention of their grown children. Yet, to the shame of many adult children, in many cases this kind of love never comes.”
Sin of Omission
1. Since you know you should actively obey your parents, is it a sin not to? James 4:17.
Recognizing the sin of disobedience means you recognize both sides of the sin. There are two types of sin: those you commit, and those you omit. Obedience can be seen as simply following the letter of the law and not deliberately breaking a command from your parents—a sin of commission. But you must grow beyond that. Active obedience means going above and beyond what is required! (Luke 17:10). It means you pursue the intent of the command they give you—doing what you know they meant for you to do, even if they don’t tell you in the exact words to do it.
Be sure to follow your parents’ instructions—even when they are not watching. God is always watching! He never compromises with His law. Jesus Christ set a perfect example of honoring both physical parents as well as His heavenly Father.
Direct your questions and conversations more and more to toward your dad. Become close with the man who holds the title “father.” Let it be known in your family that you hold his advice in high regard. Listen respectfully to his accounts of activities of bygone days. Glean carefully the many noteworthy items that will prove to be blessings to your store of knowledge. Don’t undermine his authority by going to your mother for a second opinion. Playing those sorts of manipulative games with your parents tells God a lot about your lack of character and respect for Him.
Remember, it is through this vital Fifth Commandment that God has sustained and perpetuated His law and truth through the ages—from generation to generation and on into His soon-coming Kingdom.
True honor toward parents is rare in our day. It will make you stand out. Be that beacon that shines in a dark world by showing obedience, respect and honor toward your parents. By doing so, you will have a much easier time learning to submit to the ultimate authority of our heavenly Father, who will bless you for that attitude—both in this life and in the millennial position He is preparing for you.
Don’t allow your lamp to be put out by neglecting this important bridge commandment, which shows not only how to obey your physical parents but also how to submit yourself to God. Seek to keep the full intent of the Fifth Commandment: your eternal destiny depends on it!