7 Ways You Honor God When You Honor Your Parents

7 Ways You Honor God When You Honor Your Parents

Most of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments received by Moses and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. More than a list of “dos” and “don’ts,” the commandments tell us how to honor and worship God, which teaches us how to love and respect others, like our parents.

The fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). The relationship with our parents is so significant that it is the first earthly relationship addressed in the commandments, and it’s the only one to come with a blessing from God.

When I speak about “mothers” or “fathers,” I refer to anyone who may have taken a parent figure in your life. Jesus showed that the definition of family in God’s Kingdom goes beyond blood relations: “’Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:49-50).

The reality is, not everyone is born to parents who reflect the Fatherly love of God. Yet God calls us to honor them too. Why? What is the connection between honoring our parents and honoring God?

When we treat our parents respectfully and with love, we take the opportunity to honor God with our obedience, reflecting the relationship our heavenly Father seeks to have with us. No matter who our parents are, God will honor our obedience, and He is faithful to make himself known in ways we can’t imagine.

Whoever the mother or father figures in your life are, here are the significant ways you honor God by honoring those who raised you:

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  • 1. However they modeled Christ, model their lives.

    1. However they modeled Christ, model their lives.

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    Pay attention to the admirable and honorable traits your parents or guardians embodied that should also be evident in our lives. If they loved and protected you, learn from the example they set, in how you can nurture and love others as followers of Christ grow into maturity. As adults and parents ourselves, we can honor our parents by reflecting those to whom we belong.

    Paul told the people of Corinth, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV). We are to imitate God, and we honor our parents by imitating the good examples they set for how to live. 

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  • 2. Show gratitude for the unseen sacrifices.

    2. Show gratitude for the unseen sacrifices.

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    Mothers and fathers sacrifice a lot to care for their children. No matter what kind of parents yours may have been, they have likely made sacrifices that you have not yet recognized. Parents sacrifice rest and resources we never saw while we grew up. When we become adults and parents ourselves, we may finally understand the price they paid to give their children comfort and protection.

    We can honor our parents by showing gratitude for all they have done, no matter how little. The apostle Paul writes, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). We can honor God when we honor our parents by saying, “thank you for all you have done.”

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  • 3. Speak well of those who raised you.

    3. Speak well of those who raised you.

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    Words have the power to give life or to destroy. What we say about the mothers and fathers in our lives when speaking to others, especially our children, can either honor or shame who they are or who they try to be. Speaking words that uplift our parent figures sets an example for our children to follow, teaching them what it looks like to respect others.

    Consider the words of the psalmist, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Psalm 12:18 NIV), and “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words” (Psalm 15:28 NLT). Consider the words you speak about your parents carefully, and pick only the words that give honor.

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  • 4. Heed their wisdom.

    4. Heed their wisdom.

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    Our mothers and fathers have many opportunities to gain the wisdom of experience throughout their lifetimes. They have likely endured and persevered in ways we did not notice as children. By listening to their insight and knowledge, we learn to make better choices as parents.

    Job understood the wisdom that comes through living, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12 NIV) God is also the giver of wisdom, and all we have to do is ask. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV) We honor God and our parents by asking for wisdom and heeding the wisdom we receive.

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  • 5. Honor their generation.

    5. Honor their generation.

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    We may not understand our parents’ generation and our children probably will not appreciate the years of our youth. However, we do not have to understand our parents’ youth to value their life. “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children” (Proverbs 17:6 NLT).

    What our mothers and fathers accomplished in their youth is worth remembering. Honoring the triumphs and joys of our parents’ youth provides a great source of pride and remembrance to them and to us.

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  • 6. Care for them.

    6. Care for them.

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    Today, few western societies value caring for aging parents. God, on the other hand, values all of life. First Timothy 5:4 says, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.”

    This means that it is our responsibility to care for our parents as they age, physically and financially, if possible. The most straightforward act could be knowing and doing what brings them joy or helping to make financial ends meet. Taking care of our parents’ needs honors their life and pleases God.

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  • 7. Teach our children about God.

    7. Teach our children about God.

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    The greatest gift of honor we can give our parents is to teach our children, their grandchildren, to honor and obey God, and to show them how to know him as their Father. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children about God’s will and His love, so their love for him and for those around them might grow.

    Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) reminds us, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” When we see our children grow into godly parents, too, we will agree with the apostle John, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth” (3 John 4 NLT). 

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  • Finally: Remember to forgive.

    Finally: Remember to forgive.

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    For parents who are difficult to love or forgive, putting these things into practice might seem impossible. However, God is able to work in their hearts, just as he has worked in yours. Pray for Him to transform their hearts. Read, also, what God has to say about forgiveness: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25 NIV) Forgiveness does not excuse ungodly behavior but releases us from the grip of the resulting bitterness.

    Ask God how He is calling you to honor your parents—even those who cause you pain—and pray for wisdom and guidance in how you can be an example of Godly love for your own children.  

    By obeying God’s commands, we give Him honor and glory. By honoring our mothers and fathers, we honor God’s command and trust in His promise. “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NLT).

    Tamela Turbeville has a desire for every woman with a difficult past to know God loves them. She is wife to Richard, and mother to three grown sons and one beautiful daughter-in-law. When doing what she loves most-- studying God’s Word, reading and writing--she is surrounded by her six rescue dogs in her small office in south Arkansas. She began Living One Word to write and share how God loves the unlovable and you can read more about Tamela, her journey, and her family at www.livingoneword.com, on Facebook, and Instagram.

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