Honor Your Father
We know the line from the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16) Jesus emphasized this again when asked by the “rich young ruler” which commandments he should keep (Matthew 19:19; Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20). Clearly, this is important to God. But what does it mean?
Search the internet and you’ll get some nice blanket statements like “obey your parents,” and “speak well of them in public,” and “write them a tribute.” Sometimes those are true, but sometimes they are not. Regardless, I think they miss the larger point.
When Moses brought the tablets down from Mount Sinai, the culture measured the worth of coins in weight. The more weight it had, the more it was worth. Thus, the Hebrew term that our English versions translate as “honor” actually meant “to give weight.” The Greek term used to record Jesus’ words means “value.”
What do we typically do with things we value? Here are a few that come to mind. When applied to our parents, regardless of age, I believe we can glean some biblical insight into the attitude and actions God had in mind.
What Do We Do with Things We Value?
First, we pay attention to them. My son and his wife have two golden doodles. They paid handsomely for them and call them their “babies.” (They don’t have children yet. They’ll learn the difference soon enough!) Everything revolves around their dogs. They groom them, play with them, feed them overpriced food, buy them toys, post pictures on social media, and talk about them too much. It’s overboard, but you get the point. They value their dogs, so they don’t relegate them to the backyard and forget about them. They give them time and care. That’s what we do with things we value.
Second, we protect them. Think of anything you willingly paid a lot of money for – a car, a boat, a piece of jewelry, a collectable, whatever. You don’t put it where it can easily be damaged or stolen. An expensive car goes in a garage. Treasures go in a special drawer or safe. Collectables go in a locked case. We insure them in the event something goes wrong. Valuables are protected.
Third, we tend to them. When we sold our home a couple of years ago, we spent thousands of dollars upgrading floors, countertops, and windows. We painted it inside and out. We repaired broken concrete. Why? Because a rundown house is unappealing. Tending to it added to its value.
Finally, we never, ever throw away things we value. Even things that don’t cost much have sentimental value, so we keep them. I have decades-old Father’s Day cards made from cheap paper and written in colored pencil because they are from my children. I couldn’t sell them for a nickel, but they’re worth the world to me. I value them, so as long as I’m breathing, they will stay in my possession.
How Does This Translate Into Honoring Your Father?
How does this translate to honoring your father (and mother)? It means thinking about their legitimate concerns, doing things for them without always being asked, keeping them from harm, helping them in their time of need, and never discarding them. This is easier when we have a good relationship with our parents, but even in the most difficult situations there are ways to value them. It may require forgiveness, boundaries, patience, and a whole lot of grace, but with Godly wisdom there is a way.
As an incentive, Paul reminded us that this commandment is the first one that comes with a promise for us. “‘Honor your father and mother’ — which is the first commandment with a promise — ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:2-3).
As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, consider how you can value your parents, even if they are not, in your opinion, worthy of honor. They may not still be on this earth, yet there are ways to find value. Most of all, remember that when you find and express their value, you honor God and tap into His promise to bless you.
James Randall Robison (Randy) is a writer, producer and host for the television program LIFE Today.