“Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise.” Ephesians 6:2
Children are commanded not only to obey their parents, but also to honor their parents. There is a difference between children obeying and honoring their parents. Obedience is an action done on the outside. Honor is an attitude possessed on the inside. To “honor” means to respect.
Children are not to obey their parents grudgingly. It is just as important to teach a child right attitudes as it is to teach right actions. A child cannot honor his parents without obeying them, but he can obey them without honoring them.
This is an important truth not just for small children, but for grown children as well. The verb, “to honor” is in the present tense, which means it is an action that never stops. Obedience stops, but honor never does. There are two stages in honoring your parents. In Stage 1, you honor them by doing what they tell you to do with the right attitude and a submissive heart. Stage 2 of honoring your parents is not necessarily doing what they tell you to do, but doing what they need you to do. Honor your parents by taking care of them. You can even honor your parents after they are gone if they give you requests to do something that they can no longer do.
Notice that Ephesians 6:2 says honoring your parents is the first command with a promise. What is that promise? “So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on this earth” Ephesians 6:3. God honors the children who honor their parents. This is not a promise that everyone who honors his parents will live a problem-free life and die peacefully at a ripe old age. What it is, however, is a reminder that God always honors obedience the way He sees fit.
If a child has godly parents and he listens to those godly parents, he will save himself from a lot of sin, sorrow, and suffering. He won’t be running with the wrong crowd or doing the wrong thing if he honors and obeys his parents. So parents, when you do the hard work of teaching your children to obey and honor you, you are not just teaching them what is best for you. You are also teaching them to do what is best for them – to live rightly and respectfully in the eyes of the Lord. Of course children don’t come with a guarantee, but the Lord is faithful in both our failures and our children’s failures. The goal is not perfection, but rather trust and dependence on the Lord.
Dear Father, I know one of the greatest things I can teach my kids is respect. I want them to know that they can honor you by honoring me and respecting me as their parent. Please give me the wisdom and the guidance as I teach them this important truth while they are still under my care. In Jesus' name, amen.