Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to Honor Your Parents

As Christians we’ve all heard that we're supposed to honor our mother and father, and we’re quick to teach it to our children, but are we quick to live out the commandment and receive the promise attached to it ourselves?

The commandment goes as follows: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1-3)

There are a couple of noteworthy things in this commandment:

First, there are no qualifying statements.  It does not say, “Honor your father and mother unless they treated you poorly, neglected you, tried to control your life, or even abused you.”  It does not say, “Honor your father and mother until you reach 18, and then you’re an adult and you do not have to, or you get married and do not have to.”  It does not say, “Honor your father and mother unless they’re not Christians like you.” It says to honor them period. 

Second the promise attached to this command has a converse side as well.  If you do not honor your parents without reservation, things will not go well for you, and you’ll have a short life. 

Ultimately the word honor in the Bible is associated with value.  It could just as well read, “Value your parents so that it could go well with you.”  So, how much value do your parents have to you?  If you had a blank check that represented the value of your parents, what value would you write in the blank?  One million, ten, a billion, a trillion?  Would you write in a phone call, a letter, an unexpected gift, a dinner, a “thank you”, an “I love you”, or even a hug? Maybe some of you would pay to be rid of them.

Do you know what God would write in that blank?  “Jesus”. 

He thinks your parents were worth Jesus.  He sent Him to die for them as much as He sent Him for you.  Jesus says that anything you do for the least of these in His name, you’ve done to Him (Matthew 25:40).  If you dishonor your parents, you dishonor Christ.

Isn’t the honoring of parents just an Earthly representation of the honor we should be showing our heavenly Father? Honoring our heavenly Father brings eternal life, so is it surprising that honoring our earthly parents would bring us longer life on earth?

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