What does the Bible say about respect for parents?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The Only Commandment With a Promise

About respect for parents, the fifth commandment states: “Honor 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 commandment involves the child-parent relationship (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Ephesians 6:1–3). It is the only commandment with a promise of a long life.

In the mind of the child, respect to parents becomes the foundation for respect and obedience owed to those who are legitimately placed in authority over him throughout life, especially in the church and in the state (Romans 13:1–7; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13–18).

Paul wrote, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1 also Colossians 3:20). To please God should be the child’s supreme objective. While he is carrying out the rules of his parents, he is pleasing God. However, the sphere of the children’s obedience should be the Lord. If parents order their children to go against the will of God, children are not obliged to obey them for love to God should be first (Mark 12:30).

Train Children in God’s Path

Children are born with sinful nature (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23). Therefore, the Bible instructs the parents to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Parents should educate their children with God’s principles.

In the Old Testament, the Lord instructed, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6–9).

Guardians should instill in their children, by love and discipline, respect to parents and moral values at a very early age even though this may not be a pleasant experience. “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

When parents fail to train their children in God’s path, they suffer. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). When love and discipline are judiciously used, they produce good results. Their neglect or overuse brings failure (Proverbs 10:13; 13:24; 23:13.).

Disrespectful Children

God looks with disfavor upon children who disrespect parents: “If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.”

“They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid” (Deuteronomy 21:18–21). Thus, the violation of respect to parents faces grave outcome.

Parents – Models

Parents who are in authority in the home and outside should so behave themselves that they are ever worthy of the respect and obedience of their children (Ephesians 6:4, 9; Colossians 3:21; 4:1). Therefore, they should live a life above reproach (Matthew 5:48). If they fail to do so, their children find that as an excuse to their disobedience and bring sadness to their parents (Proverbs 17:25).

The Lord helps parents in their great work of training their children and gives them the wisdom, strength and patience to do that. Paul declared, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). And they reap the fruits of success. “Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace” (Psalms 144:12).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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