God exhorts us to honor  father and mother. He values honoring parents enough to include it in the Ten  Commandments (Exodus  20:12) and again in the New Testament: “Children, obey your parents in the  Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first  commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, and that you may  live long on the earth” (Ephesians  6:1-3). Honoring parents is the only command in Scripture that promises long  life as a reward. Those who honor their parents are blessed (Jeremiah 35:18-19). In  contrast, those with a “depraved mind” and those who exhibit ungodliness in the  last days are characterized by disobedience to parents (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy  3:2).

Solomon, the wisest man, urged children to respect their  parents (Proverbs  1:8; 13:1; 30:17). Although we may  no longer be directly under their authority, we cannot outgrow God’s command to  honor our parents. Even Jesus, God the Son, submitted Himself to both His  earthly parents (Luke 2:51) and  His heavenly Father (Matthew  26:39). Following Christ’s example, we should treat our parents the way we  would reverentially approach our heavenly Father (Hebrews  12:9; Malachi  1:6).

Obviously, we are commanded to honor our parents, but how?  Honor them with both actions and attitudes (Mark 7:6).  Honor their unspoken as well as spoken wishes. “A wise son heeds his father’s  instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). In Matthew 15:3-9, Jesus  reminded the Pharisees of the command of God to honor their father and mother.  They were obeying the letter of the law, but they had added their own traditions  that essentially overruled it. While they honored their parents in word, their  actions proved their real motive. Honor is more than lip service. The word  “honor” in this passage is a verb and, as such, demands a right action.

We should seek to honor our parents in much the same way that we strive to  bring glory to God—in our thoughts, words, and actions. For a young child,  obeying parents goes hand in hand with honoring them. That includes listening,  heeding, and submitting to their authority. After children mature, the obedience  that they learned as children will serve them well in honoring other authorities  such as government, police, and employers.

While we are required to  honor parents, that doesn’t include imitating ungodly ones (Ezekiel 20:18-19). If a  parent ever instructs a child to do something that clearly contradicts God’s  commands, that child must obey God rather than his/her parents (Acts 5:29).

Honor begets honor. God will not  honor those who will not obey His command to honor their parents. If we desire  to please God and be blessed, we should honor our parents. Honoring is not easy,  is not always fun, and certainly is not possible in our own strength. But honor  is a certain path to our purpose in life—glorifying God. “Children, obey your  parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians  3:20).