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Honoring Your Mother


“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. [2] ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. [3] And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘you will live a long life, full of blessing.’” (Ephes. 6:1-3 NLT) 

In this passage, Paul instructs children to honor their parents. His command is a direct reference to the fifth commandment. What does it mean to “honor your parents?” Well, the meaning is a bit complex. In the Ten Commandments, it is clear that it has financial ramifications as does our word honorarium. In the ancient near east, the only means of support an aged parent would have is from their children. That’s why the command has a promise. To paraphrase, “your children are more likely to provide for you if you will provide for your parents.”

But it is clear that honor in this text has other meanings too. In his commentary, William Barclay explains that the word also means “to obey them, to respect them, and never to cause them pain.”

Deep down inside, I’ve always known that honoring my parents involved obeying and respecting them, but the third thing Barclay mentions –never causing them pain–seems to be an impossibility. 

If Barclay is right, and I suspect he is, honoring our parents could become a full-time job. And I guess that’s the point. We have to do more than obey and respect them, we have to show due honor to the lifetime they’ve invested in us. If we live our lives right, the worse pain we will ever cause our mother will be during childbirth.

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