house under palm leaves

Exodus 20:12. Honour your father and your mother that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.



I have already drawn the distinction between honouring and obeying. Now let me suggest some ways in which children can actually honour their parents. Young children are under an obligation before God to obey their parents in all things. If, however, you are an adult you need to honour your parents rather than obey them. There are three things we need to do to honour our parents.


Firstly we need to ensure that the basic needs of our aging parents are met. We need to ensure they are clothed, fed and comfortable in their old age. They carried us when we were young; we must carry them when they are old.

Secondly we must include them in family affairs, not exclude them from the family circle. The greatest affliction of all in old age is the sense of isolation and abandonment. We honour them by giving them the assurance and the sense of dignity and honour of still belonging to the family circle.


Thirdly, we must constantly affirm our love and respect for them. They need to hear it; they need somebody to put their arms around them from time to time and tell them that they are loved. They are moving through their sunset years, nearer to that great day when they will pass from this world to the next, and they need affirmations of our love and respect for them.


Bear in mind that as your parents get older their eyes grow dimmer and they are not always able to spot things as quickly as you can. Even more frustrating is the increasing loss of hearing which makes them feel excluded from conversation so that a sense of being left out increases.


Remember their infirmities. Care for them medically if it is possible as a family.


I thank God for the many people I know who are kindness itself to parents, who themselves sometimes show no gratitude. But sadly I have also seen old people derelict and alone, utterly abandoned by their families after they have taken all they can for themselves from their parents. The world can be a place where great kindness and compassion can be displayed and also a place where cold and unfeeling wickedness is practised, often upon those whom we should value the most.


Let us beware of this commandment. It is from God Himself. And He is watching.



Sometimes current relationships with older parents are the result of years of dysfunctional family life and bad examples in the home. It is not always easy to love them. But we are exhorted to HONOUR them not LOVE them in an emotional sense. We must do the right thing as Christian believers and not leave them to die alone, like the pagans used to do. Talk to God about it.