This coming Sunday is designated as Father’s Day. While it may not be as big a day in the lives of kids or families as Mother’s Day, it is still significant in that one of the cornerstones of a person’s life being meaningful and productive is based on the fact that they are to honor their father and their mother. When the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, in the center of the list is, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exod. 20:12).
I’ve often thought if you were to list the commandments in order of their real significance, of course you would have to put the opening commandments as really vital and significant — those significant laws that have to do with honoring God and not putting anything before Him. Then you would list commandments like, “Remember the Sabbath day,” or “Honor thy father,” those weighty moments like, “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shall not steal or bear false witness.” Those really get our attention, but “Honor thy father,” not so much. Although the commandment begins with the word honor, which is in itself a heavy, significant word for us to digest, that word is not just referring to one day a year when you have Father’s Day and get him a new pair of socks. It is talking about an attitude, a deep sense of respect, that will guide your life and your relationship and the shaping of your days by the way you honor, respect, appreciate, and see the worth and value in your father’s life.
In our culture today far too many have just forgotten this commandment, and yet it is one of the most significant, life-changing, and life-giving commandments in the list. The way you view and subsequently treat and relate to your mother and father sets in motion a pattern that more than likely will flow into the life of your offspring and potentially their offspring. There’s an interesting old story about a grandpa who was fishing on the creek bank with his grandson. They were enjoying one another’s company and the old granddad said, “Boy, if you’ll take care of me when I get old, I will take care of you when you get old.” The young boy had no way at all of understanding or processing that thought. Some of you reading this article may not understand or be able to process that thought. What the granddad was saying to his young grandson was if you will develop an attitude of care and respect and appreciation for me, that will go on with you to the point that the people around your life will probably be affected and infected by it and they will be there to care for you just like you care for me.
The first idea is the fact that this is a dual command, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” You may think your mother is a wonderful, loving person and your dad is kind of a harsh, mean old dude (or vice versa). You still aren’t given the option of loving one and disrespecting the other. They were husband and wife. They were the unit of reproduction that gave you existence and in more cases than not, provided care and love and support to the best of their ability, and made input into your life to the degree that they were able. They deserve your respect. Both of them. Don’t pretend to respect. Genuinely honor them and if you don’t, more people than you think will be observing that you do not. Care for your parents, not for other folks’ sake but for your sake.
The second idea is to look at the fuel of this commandment. What do I mean by that? There are several things to which you need to give attention for this commandment to take on genuine meaning in your life. One of the components of the fuel is that this is a spiritual aspect of your life. God gave this command and while sometimes you may obey your parents simply because you have to, at some point maturity in your walk with the Lord will enable you to see that living out, honoring, and respecting your parents brings about a new dimension in your own life. Notice too that this command is fueled by a wonderful promise that hangs before us like the promise that you cannot embrace without embracing respect and honor for your parents. It says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Some people simply see that as surface thinking. You do what your parents tell you to do and you will live long. That may have some reality to it because what they are telling you is probably things that would be best for you if you would listen to them.
Through the years I have watched so many people spend their entire lives bucking up against their parents, fussing, fighting against their opinions, their care, their love, only to transfer that to the next level and the next level, into one area after another, never understanding that life could be so much better, so much more pleasant if they had learned the lessons of having a gentle, clear, obedient, respectful heart from childhood on. The fuel is significant because it all centers in a life of caring, attentive respect.
The third and final idea about which I would like for you to think for a moment on this Father’s Day, is what I believe is inherent in this wonderful command that has renewal built in. For that, I am extremely grateful. Was there ever a time when I disobeyed my parents? Absolutely. Was there a time when I may not have had the respect that I should have had for them? Yes, but I must confess and share my joy in the fact that I learned long, long ago that while I did not have a perfect mom and dad, they were great people in their own right. They did more for me than they should have done. They were more gracious and forgiving than I ever realized, and at every turn in every way of every day, they truly wanted the best for me.
Coming to understand that fact decades ago has brought joy to my life again and again. My father and my mother have long since gone on to be with our Father in heaven, but every memory of any kindness in my life shown toward them has grown multiple times as the years have gone by. A card I gave to my mom or some special thing I did for my dad has come back to me, not only in the blessings of my own children or grandchildren but also in memories of, “I’m so glad that I did that. I’m so glad that I went the second mile. I’m so thankful that they loved me through the dark days and were with me during the glorious days.”
Truthfully, as far as day-to-day living is concerned, this commandment probably has more significance to make a difference in your home, life, children, and grandchildren than any other one thing you could do. More than making a good living, more than seeing that they get on the right team, more than graduating at the right school, honoring your father and mother in life and in death is a God-honoring, significant thing. Honor your father and your mother. God bless you.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.