“‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
(Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV)
This is the beginning of human authority which ultimately points to God’s authority. Honor respects the role and the person. Some of the time, the person is harder to respect because of some of life’s decisions that they have made, but we should strive to honor them nonetheless. Jesus & Paul highlight this command as well in Mark 7:1–13; Ephesians 6:1–3; 1 Timothy 5:4. This commandment is the only one that offers the follower a reward if obeyed: a life filled with God’s presence and favor. Authority is central in the scriptures because it is central to life – we are a people under authority. That was the reason for the tree in the garden, to remind Adam & Eve that they were not ultimate or autonomous, to remind them that they were under God’s authority. Parents are to protect, provide & teach their children to love and obey God. Parents are to provide a picture of redemption – a little Eden on earth.
For some, mom & dad were absent, disconnected or just plain wicked. How do you honor them when there is very little in them that seems worthy of honor or when the wounds & scars that you carry are deep & debilitating? There are no simple answers to this – for some it might be a life long struggle. It is important to remember that most (though not all) parents try to do the best that they can, though they fall woefully short and their sins scar those around them. The real power to forgive & honor those closest to us that have wounded us is found in the cross of Christ. The more deeply that we understand and embrace that there was nothing good in us that inclined God toward us (or that inclined us toward Him); the more that we deeply understand & embrace that before He formed a star, planet or carved out a river He determined to love you and made a way for you to be reconciled with Him. The more deeply that we understand our own depravity, rebellion & self-centeredness and see the beauty of grace in the cross, the more empowered (supernaturally) we are to forgive, honor & love.