• Pastor Michael Coltman

Honor Your Parents

Exodus 20:12

The commandment itself is very simple: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. There is no extra fine print and no footnotes attached to the commandment…... There’s no exception clause for any of us…...even those who may have had horrific experiences at the hands of their parents.

Parenting Today

What can make things even more complicated as we talk about Honoring your Parents is a lot of cultural variables. Parenting today is not the same as it was for my parents generation or for my grandparents generation. Or for the generation that existed when God gave this commandment…..

We have been lead as people to believe the myth that we’re all individuals and the decisions that we make don’t affect others.

But that’s not true - Think about your own dad and the decisions he’s made, or if the decisions he’s made have greatly affected you - positively or negatively. And someday, your children will be thinking the same thing.

This is where the 10 commandments transition from ‘God’ to ‘neighbor’. And the first priority is family. When Jesus came along, they asked him, “What is the greatest commandment?” “29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

The first four commandments are about loving God, and as a result of God’s love for you and you loving God, commandments five through ten are about loving your neighbor - starting with your parents.

Here is a thought: I think if you could love your parents, you could love anybody. If you could forgive your parents, you could forgive anybody.

And what does it even mean to honour someone?

The issue here of honor means to respect, to submit. It means to have love, appreciation, affection for them. Honor is something that begins internally, and then it manifests itself externally.


The ideal family unit is a mother and a father. That is God’s design and God’s plan. But we live in a fallen and imperfect world…widows…divorces. But ideally, a child would have a father and a mother who would be there from the start to the finish.

I grew up in a home where my dad went to work and mom was a stay at home mom….I have 2 older brothers and a younger sister….We were quite good kids but I’m sure it was quite trying at times for my mom to manage us all……..Maybe some of you can relate, but did you ever do something really bad when dad was away at work and have your mom say “Get to your room…..Wait until your father gets home.”...... Yikes…. That was never good….

What she’s was saying is, “You do not honor your mother, you only honor your father.”

My dad would come home and not just discipline us but also instruct us. He would say “Your mother and I speak with the same voice. God commands you to honor your mother. You listen and respect her the same as me whether I’m here or not.”

So, if you’re that wife and you disrespect and dishonor your husband in front of the children, what do you think the children will do? You think they’ll honor their father? Not likely.

How about if you are an overbearing, harsh man… you belittle, criticize your wife verbally in front of your children? Do you think those children will grow up to honor their mother - probably not.

So, this doesn’t mean that moms and dads can’t have conflict and disagreement - absolutely not. But that if you do have to deal with conflict in front of the kids, you need to deal with it honorably because you’re modeling for your children how you can even honor one another in a moment of disagreement.


So why do we honor father and mother? Exodus 20:12, “That your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Now at the time that God gave the 10 commandments to the israelites, they had been slaves in Egypt for over four hundred years. God has liberated them through the Exodus. They are journeying, walking toward their homeland, but they’re not there yet. It’s a promise that God has set before them but they have not yet experienced.

Why do we honor? Because it makes our life better.

So, every time you need to make a decision, don’t think in these terms: “What’s best for me?” Because actually, you’ll end up doing things that aren’t best for you. Ask this question: “What will glorify God? What will obey God? What will honor God?” And if in your decision-making, you do what glorifies God, the by-product - or the benefit - is that it’s good for you.


We live in a day when we’re told children are not sinners, they’re basically good, you need to not raise them, you need to let them grow to become whoever they will become. Let me tell you this from my own personal experience at home on our farm: I can grow weeds without even trying!....The parenting philosophy that says, “We’ll just let them become who they will become,” well, they have a sin nature. If you want to cultivate a harvest of righteousness in your child, it means they need a new nature, instruction, discipline, repentance, correction.

What does honouring your father and mother look like for various life stages?

A. Child - Kids at Home

Well, you are a child for a little while, but you’re someone’s child forever……..And when the Bible says, “Obey your mother and father,” it’s talking about those who are little children.

What happens is, most of the time we think, “Honor your father and mother,” is just for little kids, but actually, you’re someone’s child for your whole life. I still have a mom and a dad. I’m still their child.

I’m still their child, but I’m not their little boy, so I do need to honor them, but I don’t need to obey them. I need to consider their advice and instruction, but not in the same way that I did when I was living in their home. So, there are various stages. What does it look like for a child living at home to honor their father and mother? Well, it’s primarily obedience. You’re a nine-year-old kid, and your mom says, “Clean your room. Help with the dishes. Eat your vegetables before you can have dessert.” Guess what you need to do? Exactly what your mom said.

B. Adolescent/Teenager

Adolescents, what about for adolescents, those that are teenagers? It is essentially about respect. Part of the adolescent phase is that you’re going to have your own ideas and you’re going to disagree with your parents, but you still need to respect them. You’re not a child, but you’re not an adult, so you get more freedom than you did when you were little, but not as much as you will when you’re 20. This respect means the way you talk about your parents when they’re not present, and also how you talk to your parents when they are present.

C. Adults

Well, how about when a child becomes an adult? To honor your father and mother as an adult transitions from obedience, to respect, which includes seeking wise counsel, and teenagers running stuff by their folks and not just making all their decisions apart from them. But as an adult, what honor looks like is primarily caring for your parents.

In the Biblical times, they didn’t have Canada Pension Plan, retirement, and all of the governmental safety nets that we do, so as you got old, your kids needed to look after you. And the assumption was they fed you, housed you, clothed you, looked after you…..They tended to you when you were little and couldn’t care for yourself. As they get older, you will return the favor. This commandment in Exodus 20:12 is primarily for older children with elderly parents. It’s not primarily for younger parents with small children.


There may be some people here who think of that this commandment doesn’t apply to them…..You might be like, “Shoot - I was hoping he wouldn’t bring that up.”

Your first thought might be..., ‘You don’t know my mom. You don’t know my dad. You don’t know what they said. You don’t know what they did. You don’t know what they failed to do. You don’t know what they still do.

Maybe what they have done or failed to do hurts the heart of God, the Father heart of God. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be hurt, but the Bible doesn’t have exception clauses for dishonorable parents… how do we honor dishonorable parents? Again, don’t raise your hand, but how many of you, this is your situation? You’re like, “Well, my parents are dishonorable. How do I honor them?” It’s like cheering for a the bad guy, right? There’s something inside that just feels wrong about that.

  • Be Gracious

For some of us our expectations of our parents might be unreasonable. The Bible says that it’s a glory to overlook an offense. Some of you just need to realize, “I am expecting far more of my parents than I ever expect of myself.” And sometimes you’ve got to give a little grace and say, “You know what? When your parents are fallen sinners, it’s not always going to be awesome.”

  • Forgive

This is to guard your heart from bitterness. If your parents have sinned against you, forgiveness is how you are cleansed from that root of bitterness, so that it doesn’t take hold. If you don’t forgive, then the sin that lived in them can now live in you through the bitterness. Have you ever seen somebody that hates their parent and then grows up to become just like them? It is probably because they never forgave them.

Forgiveness is saying, “You know what? What you did was wrong. Either justice came at the cross where Jesus died for it, or justice will come at the end when you stand before Jesus and give an account for it, but, between you and me, I’m going to forgive. I’m going to leave it with Jesus so I can move on with my life and stop this bitter root from taking hold.” Not that you ignore them, hate them, or despise them, but they don’t become the guiding, controlling center of your life.

- Give Honour

Sometimes this means if you can’t say something nice, you don’t say anything at all. You say, “Well, I can’t say anything good.” Then maybe certain things shouldn’t be said publicly. Maybe privately with your spouse, you’re telling them your story. Maybe for your kids, you’re warning them about the family history. So even if you have dishonorable mother, dishonorable father, if by the grace of God you become a better person, a better husband, a better father, a better wife, a better mother, that is honoring them.

  • Give Thanks

Maybe your parents were bad Christians, but they were Christians. Call them up, send them an email, “I just wanted to say thank you. It really dawned on me that even having Christian parents was a real blessing and a gift.” Your dad worked hard to provide. Maybe he wasn’t emotionally supportive, spiritually present, but he did provide. And you know what, there’s a lot of kids didn’t even get that.

And you can be thankful that God is a Father. All right, the Bible says that God is our Father. So if nothing else, you could be thankful that if your earthly father fails you, you have a Heavenly Father who doesn’t. Imagine the people that don’t even know God as Father and don’t have any father whatsoever or any perfect picture of what a father should be like or a parent should be like. There’s lot to be thankful for.


How could fathers and mothers parent honorably? Here are a few things to consider….

  • Children are a Blessing

Your child is your blessing. Some of you say, “Not today.” Psalm 127:3 that says that, “Children are a blessing.” To parent honorably and to cultivate in the children honor in return starts with thinking biblically that children are a blessing.

God the Father considers you a blessing. And if you’ll accept the fact that you are his blessing, you will start to live in a way that blesses him. This is where it doesn’t start with your performance; it starts with His affection.

  • Your Children are your Responsibility

Your children are not the school’s responsibility. Your children are not the church’s responsibility. Your children are not the police’s responsibility.

You are primarily responsible for the well-being of your children. Your goal is not to raise a child who is moral, but a worshiper, not just a kid who does the right things but a kid who has a new heart, not just a kid who is outwardly compliant but inwardly loves Jesus.

  • Kids Follow Their Parents

Number three, your child is your follower. You are the leader. Your children—part of their honoring of you is the following of you. This is where, in Joshua 24:15, Joshua says, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” …………... You make a decision and your children need to follow you.

As parents, where do we look for our example? We look to God as Father. We don’t look just to our own mothers and fathers. We look beyond that. We need ask yourselves, “What kind of Father is God, how does he pursue me, how does he instruct me, how does he correct me, and how does he train me?” And we take our cues from the perfect Father.




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