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"Honour 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). This Fifth Commandment sets the tone for the last six of the ten commandments which deal with our relationships with each other.
The Fifth Commandment introduces a series of six commandments which define proper relationships with others and provide a standard of conduct to build stable, lasting relationships.
During our formative years attitudes governing our personal desires in relation to the needs of others are formed. The Fifth Commandment shows us from whom and how the fundamentals of respect and honour are most effectively learned. It all begins with the respect and honour we show our parents.
The New Testament emphasises the universal application of this important biblical principle with the Apostle Paul exhorting: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:2-3).
God places the primary responsibility for teaching children the basic principles of life directly on the shoulders of parents, and makes it clear this depends on how much the parents, themselves, honour God and submit to His instruction.
The first four commandments emphasizing our personal relationship with God precede the commandment to give honour to our parents, because only after our relationship with God is strong and stable are we able to fully grasp our role as spiritual examples to our children.
God’s instruction to parents makes this clear: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.... You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
Throughout the Bible, especially in the book of Proverbs, there are instructions about how we should treat and honour each other, which we should regularly discuss and apply to the real-life situations our children face. These discussions should be interactive, allowing the children to ask questions the parents help them resolve using biblical principles. It is by treating children with dignity and respect that they learn how they should treat others.
Honouring our parents and grandparents doesn’t cease when we become adults. It is a lifetime commitment. We should continue to respect their wisdom, consult with them and welcome their continued involvement in our lives. Jesus criticised those in His day who neglected making appropriate provisions to care for their elderly parents. (Mark 7:9-13).
Families are the building blocks of societies. Strong families build strong societies and nations. This is a commandment with the wonderful promise life will go better for us if we simply obey it.
Bible Study Guide - The Ten Commandments