Become A Partner  or  Partner Sign In


Never Too Old to Honor Your Parents

August 24, 2011


If we take the Bible seriously (you do, right?), then we know that finding a way to honor our parents, no matter who they have been, no matter what they have done, is a very significant action. I’m serious. The Bible is filled with stories of people who honored their parents and succeeded and of those who did not honor their parents and failed. If you’re alive, you’ve got parents (even if they are no longer living)—and God’s command is to honor them (see Exodus 20:12).

Now you may think, “If this guy thinks for a moment that I’m going to honor my old man, he has got another thing coming!” Well, let me try to get by your resistance. Honoring our parents does not mean several things.

First, honoring our parents does not mean to go back groveling and seeking their approval (again). Children need to get freed from my-parents’-approval bondage.

Secondly, it does not mean to make yourself vulnerable to their hurtful behavior. Sometimes appropriate boundaries between children and abusive parents are necessary. But the need for that boundary does not free us from the obligation of honoring our parents.

Thirdly, honoring our parents does not mean ignoring or denying the past.

Here is what honoring does mean. It means choosing to place great value upon our relationship with them. It means not kidding myself into thinking that my parents don’t matter to me. It involves taking the initiative to improve the relationship whatever its current condition. And it means recognizing what they have done right. You say, “They haven’t done a lot right.” They have done something right, even if it’s little more than giving you life (that’s big). So, express that recognition. Acknowledge the sacrifices that they have made for you. Honoring includes seeing them as Christ does, with compassion and mercy. It means forgiving them as Christ has forgiven you.

The apostle Paul was right: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Tragically, some grownups continue to act like children towards their own parents. When you become an adult, it’s time to stop playing the child role. It’s time to stop going, “He has to say it first. They have to initiate. They’re the ones–.” That has to stop! It’s time to honor your parents. If you are an adult, I-T I-S T-I-M-E! Take the first step. Take responsibility for your relationship with your parents as part of your relationship with God.

Honor our parents because God said so—no matter what age you are. Because His ways lead to freedom. Because words spoken at their funeral always seem way too late.

Some of you may wish you had gotten this message ten years ago. You’ve stood by a casket with a eulogy in hand and desperately wished the person for whom the words were written would wake up and hear them. But they won’t. That opportunity is gone. So do it now. Be the adult. Write or say the words of honor to your parents that you hope your own kids will express to you. God will bless your obedience.

Filed under:

Read comments:

  • GraceAug.24.2011

    Sometimes its easy to lose sight that honoring your parents is a joy in the Lord, rather than an obligation. Thank you for this word Pastor James…..significantly blessed by it today!

  • RobbyAug.24.2011

    That was exactly what I needed to be told today. Thank you, James.

  • What it Means to Honor our Parents as Adults | Life2getherAug.24.2011

    […] James MacDonald: If we take the Bible seriously (you do, right?), then we know that finding a way to honor our parents, no matter who they have been, no matter what they have done, is a very significant action. I’m serious. The Bible is filled with stories of people who honored their parents and succeeded and of those who did not honor their parents and failed. If you’re alive, you’ve got parents (even if they are no longer living)—and God’s command is to honor them (see Exodus 20:12). […]

  • BeverlyAug.24.2011

    This is nice! I needed to hear this message. I was always taught that no matter what a parent does or says children should obey and listen and not say a word back or it is considered being dishonorable, even if feeling that it contradicts what GOD has said. It is so true that GOD honors those who honor their parents, I truely have been blessed because I have finally gained this very wisdom from GOD that kids can disagree with thier parents while still honoring; it is in how you communicate that disagreement that matters, and to not allow such disagreements to hinder the relationship.
    My testimony of this is great, I of 3 children am the only one who speaks with my parents always in the hopes of keeping the relationship thriving, I have come to the realization that they too are human beings that error just as I, and it is that very thing that keeps my patiences and endurance active in our relationship, always acknowledging that they deserve the respect and honor for the authoritive role that GOD instituted in them for my own good, even though they may have crossed some boundries during the rearing ages, I realize that they did make sacrifices for us ( dad working 2 jobs to keep us, mom always working in the home to make it as comfortable as possible, etc), and even though there was very little time for the kids, they felt they had to do what they had to do to keep the family unit together. Not to mention GOD has called us to honor our fathers and mothers that it may be well with us; that we may have a long life. EPH 2:2.
    I am just so glad that I read your message, it helped relieve that slight guilt I had whenever I disagreed with my parents and feeling as if I were being dishonorable.
    Thanks James for posting this message in such a way that is more understandable.

  • Untitled 1Aug.25.2011

    […] Blog Search- Pastor Leaders: Never Too Old to Honor Your Parents – Vertical Church | Ministry … Category: Blog News | Tags: […]

  • What it means to honor your parents. « What Matters MostAug.25.2011

    […] MacDonald posted a great blog post yesterday about honoring your […]

  • Mrs. HillAug.25.2011

    I must say that in my reading of Scripture this week I came across an interesting verse.
    ASV: Matthew Chapter 15

    [1] Then there come to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying,
    [2] Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
    [3] And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?
    [4] For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death.
    [5] But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God ;
    [6] he shall not honor his father. And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition.

    Now, in verse 5 Jesus used the word profited by me…in looking up this word in the 1828 dictionary it describes profit as being useful, helpful, advantageous or beneficial.

    If you are any of these things to your parents .. no matter who they are or what they have done…then you are honoring them.

    I have had to learn for myself, as I was raised in the opposite manner, that we are not the accuser, punisher nor are we the ones who are to hold others accountable. This is God’s sovereign business to attend.

  • EvelynAug.25.2011

    Pastor James McDonald,

    Honestly I haven’t read this blog, sorry just looking for a way to say thank you and I cant find any other way but to comment here.

    Back in April i had to wake up at 530 am for some crazy reason, im not a morning person, but I had the radio on for my alarm, woke up to you. I have never heard of you before, but at that time a friend of mine was dying of cancer, I have never had anything really hard happen to me before, this was hard on my faith, really hard, but your sermon that morning hit home, I knew it was God speaking through you and though I couldnt understand why God would allow this I knew He cared, bc of that sermon, I have been up almost every morning sense to hear you. but during that season, he died this past spring, your sermons were a God send, so thank you! I still gain so much from your sermons, they are rarely easy to listen (bc they are hard teaching-opposite my flesh) but so good.

    I have debated for a while if it was worth saying anything but thought Id go ahead and share. thanks for sharing what the Lord is doing in you and teaching you. He has and is really using you in my life.


  • MaryAug.30.2011

    I have to disagree with your views on some of this,James and it seems like there are contadictions in some of what you say.

    You have your opinions on how to honor abusive parents. Yet, the Bible doesn’t condone abuse so to say that we need to find something that they did right when it was just abuse, then I’ll have to disagree with you there. Also, sometimes you cannot make peace with people and that includes parents. Not because you don’t want to but because they don’t want peace but war.There are many different issues that will keep people from not being able to have a relationship with their parents,many.

    Most of the times when preachers like yourself talk about a subject like this, you are way to vague and because you have never experienced this yourself, you cannot really understand how it is for a lot of people. You only go by your personal experience.

    Ultimately I think it is up to the individual to decide what is best for them, not a preacher because there is so many details that you nor anyone else may not understand.

    Finally, I’m at peace with how I deal with honoring my parents and I know what scripture says. In my case, it means to live a God honoring life even though they themselves don’t honor Him nor treat me with love and kindness.

  • Anissa StarkSep.06.2011

    James, let me start off by saying I not only respect your role as a Leader, but I also understand stand it more clearly now that the Lord is growing me into Leadership. This is a great task you take on because in a given group of People there is GREAT diversity given the specific situation each person is in. Many People can not imagine how an evil parent can actually enjoy abusing, torturing, and harming their own children. Your statement, “Sometimes appropriate boundaries between children and abusive parents are necessary. But the need for that boundary does not free us from the obligation of honoring our parents.” In some situations No Contact is not necessary, and in other situations, like mine and many others, it is VERY necessary.

    Those of us who have unrepentant & reprobate biological parents who actually enjoy hurting us get the guilt trip from Religious Legalistic People who strictly define Honoring our Parents in a certain traditional way. Is it possible to honor our abusive parents while we are in No Contact? Seems impossible right? With God NOTHING is impossible. I pray you will allow me to share my blog link with your readers. (According to my blog stats, Over 3,000 People have read it and many people have contacted me to say that it has helped them.) Here is how we can have No Contact and STILL honor our abusive unrepentant reprobate biological parents,

    When we don’t return hate for hate we are in fact honoring our parents, but most importantly we are honoring our Holy Parent God by not becoming like our Earthly Parents, and instead becoming more like our Heavenly one.

  • AndySep.09.2011

    I’ve been a bit reluctant to respond to this one Pastor James but as I’ve read the comments, and I’m still in a reconciliation process with my own father who I essentially had no contact with for about 18 years even though we only lived about 3 miles apart from each other, is that one of the things that’s profoundly changed my thinking is my desire to share Christ with him. There’s a lot of stuff that I still don’t understand about what happened with him and a lot of unanswered questions but I do know as God has worked on my heart about this there has been a transformative process in me thats remembered that just as much as he’s a sinner in need of Savior, so am I. God loves us both, we have common ground.

  • RochelleSep.13.2011

    God never ceases to amaze me. I read this almost immediately AFTER I donated to get the “Have the Funeral” CD set – for the very reason of learning to maybe, just maybe, reconnect with my father.

    I look forward to visiting this site often.

  • Bits and Pieces 10/5/11 « His Glory My JoyOct.05.2011

    […] Never Too Old To Honor Your Parents:  In this article, James MacDonald writes about what it means for an adult to honor their parents.  Read his thoughts here. […]


Support This Ministry

God uses the faithful and generous support of people like you to continue to change lives through the ministry of Walk in the Word. We are grateful for your willingness to share the resources God has given to you and promise to put your gift to immediate and careful use.

Donate Become A Change Partner

Find a Church

More than 100 Bible-teaching, Christ-exalting Harvest Bible Chapels are thriving, by God's grace, around the world. Find the one nearest to you.

View All Churches

Twitter Facebook

© 2015 Walk in the Word.    |     Privacy Policy    |     Employment / Volunteer Opportunities