Exodus 20:12 (Commandment Five) Meditation

Text (Ex 20:12, NIV):

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."

Amplified Rendering:

"Do everything in your power to lift up your parents—both your father and mother: Your father, who led, provided for, and protected you and your family; and your mother, who held everything together with the glue of her love, persistence, and wisdom. Emphasize the weightiness of who they are (or were, if they've passed from this earthly life).

"Make their lives mean something by being the best you you can be. Honor their ways by following hard after wisdom(1).

"Of course, they failed you. Sometimes miserably. But their desires, even though they may have been buried under miles and miles of fallenness, were for you to become a good and happy man (or woman) of substance. So be substantive. Live a long, good, and happy life(2); and give yourself away to those around you(3). Love, respect, and submit to your spouse(4); be good to your own children(5); and show your parents and all your elders and leaders honor and respect, even if there isn't much about them that's particularly honorable or respectable.

"Honor the 'seat' of parenthood your parents occupied. Also, forgive them of any and all wrongs they may have committed against you, either directly or indirectly. Apologize to them for the many ways in which you hurt or injured them or, at times, alienated them or made their lives incredibly difficult.

"Regarding your parents, I will never say, 'They did the best they could.' Or, 'They did a fabulous job.' Or, 'They were horrible parents.' All three 'all-or-nothing' polemics would be far too general and dismissive. In fact, they'd minimize and mischaracterize all the good and not so good things they did do; as well as all those times when what they did, whether together or individually, fell somewhere in between the two. Yes, sometimes they did their best; sometimes they didn’t. And, yes, sometimes they did a fabulous job; and, of course, sometimes they didn't. Sometimes they behaved horribly, even grievously; but not alwaysnot even most of the time. Being a parent is the most difficult, and, at times, loneliest job on earth; it's also the job for which those who serve in it feel the least prepared to do so.

"I say all these things, because they need to be said.

"Honor your parents, by surrendering to Me(6) and letting Me make you good(7). Honor your parents by becoming a person of unlimited forgiveness(8) and abundant generosity(9). Give your parents the benefit of the doubt. (Wouldn't it be nice if everyone you ever hurt did the same for you?) Even if your parents hurt you deeply, even (seemingly) irreparably, forgive them. Allow me to heal you, Father you, and fill-in the missing blanks in your life—those critical elements in your development that were, quite sadly, left unfilled or uncompleted by them(10).

"If they're still living, love your parents(11), pray for them(12), and seek to be an integral part of their lives. Talk with them often; and, with great loving-kindness, demonstrate a deep and abiding interest in who they are now and how things are going for them. Share with them, too, who you are now and how things are going for you. Remember to thank them verbally (and often) for all they've done for you and meant to you throughout your life(13).

"Someday, all those who know Me will be perfected(14). When that Day comes, there will be nothing left of the 'old man' or 'old woman'(15) who raised you. So, too, there will be nothing left of the 'old man (or old woman)' your parents were entrusted with raising. In that day, all will be well! Yes, I declare, all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well(16)!

"Live with these things in mind, and take them to heart. Honor, with deep kindness and respect, your mom and dad. Do all this, and I'll make your days long and fruitful on earth—despite the many troubles and challenges you've had (and will continue to face) throughout your short life"(17).

Consecrating Prayer:

Holy Father…

Enable me to love my parents with the very same love you have for me. Help me to be completely forgiving—even unoffendable—where they're concerned. Make me a good and wise son so You'll be glorified and so they'll feel honored. Bless them, O God, in all they do; and help me, too, to seize every opportunity I can to be a part of their lives and to invite them to be a part of mine.

In the Name of Jesus, I ask these things…



  1. See Pr 4:1-13.

  2. See Pr 3:1-2.

  3. See Jn 15:13 and He 13:16.

  4. See Ep 5:21-3.

  5. See Ep 6:4, Pr 22:6 and 29:17, Mk 9:42, and Mt 19:14.

  6. See Ga 2:20, Ja 4:7, and Mt 11:28-30.

  7. See Ph 2:12-13.

  8. See Mt 18:22 and Co 3:13.

  9. See 2Co 9:6-8.

  10. See Ps 68:5, Is 64:8, Mt 6:26, and Mt 6:9-13 (The Our Father Prayer).

  11. See Ro 13:8, 1Co 16:14, Ep 4:2-3, and Co 3:14.

  12. See Ep 6:18 and 1Ti 2:1.

  13. See Ep 1:16, Ph 1:3, and Co 1:3.

  14. See 1Jn 3:2, 1Co 15:51-52, and 1Th 4:13-18.

  15. See Ro 7.

  16. Attributed to Julian of Norwich (1342-1416).

  17. See Jn 16:33.


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