As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.
One of the laws of holiness, of the laws that set us apart from the world is, Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father (Leviticus 19:3). Reverence towards our parents sets us aside from the world so we should be seen honoring and revering our parents. This was the first commandment given with a conditional promise, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you (Exodus 20: 12). There are two commandments with a longevity conditional clause, and they are both related to parenthood (Deuteronomy 22:7-8). Yes, to honor and reverence our parents is an integral law of the Kingdom of God; it will be the rule of law in the ‘World to Come’ under the iron rule of Messiah when He reigns on earth.
It is easy to direct such a commandment to towards our Western generation of teenagers. Due to the society that we have created around them, they seem to have very little respect for their parents. But I think that we need to direct this command towards ourselves. We need to ask ourselves how much honor and reverence do we have for our parents. To ‘honor’ our parents means to support them. Exodus 20:12 basically says, ‘you shall support your parents in their old age, not send them to a government institution to be taken care of by strangers whose sole interest is to get paid for the job’. If caring for them and changing their diaper cramps our style, we must remember that they allowed their ‘style’ to be cramped in order to care for us and change our diapers.
‘Revering our parents’ speaks of respect. It is understandable that some of us may have had abusive parents who seem unworthy of respect or even of the title. These are different situations that are outside of this commandment. But whereas our parents may not be respectable, our children should not hear negative feelings towards them out of our mouth; if they do, these same words will most certainly come back to us in their mouth because we ourselves are not perfect parents either. Also, forgiveness is not an option; it’s a commandment from the Master who Himself followed God’s commands to forgive by forgiving the abuse of His persecutors (Luke 19:18; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 23:24). Sad to say, in too many homes children hear their parents speak negatively, disparagingly, disrespectfully, or even mockingly about their older parents.
We often think of teaching as speaking, and of learning as listening, and as a result many of us try to teach others by telling them how to live. This was not the way of the Master. Like the Rabbis of the day, the Master taught by exemplifying the Torah, by living it and telling His disciples to follow His example. Paul was cradled in the same pedagogy and taught it (1 Corinthians 11:1). Teaching is by doing, and learning is by emulating.
The way we react towards our parents is closely tied to the way we react to God. If we know how to trust our wiser parents, we will know how to trust the wiser leadership of the Master.