Honor your Father
by John Crotts
Imagine your shock – as a Little League baseball pitcher – having an unknown adult coming up to offer all kinds of advice about your pitching.
Perhaps you might even be a offended, thinking if you had wanted this man’s opinions you would have asked for them. As this “expert” continues to try to cram his wisdom into your brain, you realize the expert is John Smoltz former pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.
All of a sudden you are kicking yourself in the shins – with your cleats on no less – for not paying careful attention to his every word.
What made the change in your response? The level of respect for the person offering the advice made the difference. As a Cy Young award winner – the highest honor for a major league baseball pitcher, John Smoltz is a man you greatly admire.
Therefore, you listen to him with great attention.
One of the Ten Commandments calls upon us to give such respect to two very important people in our lives. The fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).
As Father’s Day approaches, it is good to consider how well we are obeying this commandment. The Hebrew word for honor has the root idea of heaviness or weightiness. The idea is to treat our parents with great dignity. They are to be thought of as dignified or weighty.
There are two types of people we honor.
Many people have great respect for those with amazing achievements and skill, like John Smoltz, the baseball pitcher. When someone has unusual ability in an area, or performs nobly in a crisis event, people show them honor.
The other type of people we honor is those holding special offices or positions. It is right to show respect to certain individuals just because of their positions of authority. In the context of the Christian’s response to the government, Peter says, “Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17; see also Romans 13:1-7).
Even if you find a person in the authority personally rotten, you must show him or her great respect because of their position. For example, if a person disagrees with some of the president’s – former or current –policies and practices, they should disagree respectfully, because he is the president.
Do you treat your father with the respect and honor he is due?
Hopefully, your dad has earned your respect because of his character, abilities and loving care for you and your family. But even if he has not always acted in such respectable ways, God requires that you treat him with honor just because of his position as your father.
(This also applies to the way we treat our mothers, but since it’s almost Father’s Day we’ll focus on him.)
When we are young, the main way to honor our fathers is through cheerful obedience. In Ephesians 6, the two ideas are side by side. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Children must obey their fathers fully, with only one qualification...”in the Lord.” In other words, children must not knowingly follow their father’s commandment to sin against God. Obeying God is always the right choice, if you are ever forced to choose between the Lord and any other authority (see Acts 5:29).
For the most part, however, earthly fathers rarely command their sons and daughters to defy God, therefore they are to be obeyed.
As a person grows up, the way they honor their father changes. The honor changes from simple obedience to respect. Even when you are far removed from your father’s roof, the commandment to show him honor still applies. It should make a difference in the ways you think about him, talk about him, desire to spend time with him and even care for him in his old age.
Are you obeying the fifth commandment? If you are still growing up in your home, are you quick to obey your father? Do you give him a hard time about doing what he tells you to do – or what you know he wants you to do?
How’s your attitude?
Or if you are out on your own, when was the last time that you showed your dad that you respect him? Has it been too long since you’ve called him on the phone?
We should be thankful to God for our fathers. After all, God hand picked the one that you received! If you do not really like the one you’ve got, you need to take it up with the all-wise, sovereign God of the universe, because your complaint is ultimately against him.
We should also thank God for his grace.
Through Jesus Christ there is grace for those of us who have broken God’s commandments. If you have not been honoring your dad like you should’ve, repent. Go to God for mercy and grace, and then ask your dad to forgive you, too.
God also gives grace to fathers who have not acted as honorably as they should have. Any good dad knows that his kids turned out far better than he deserved.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this year let’s honor our fathers, but let’s also seek to glorify our Father in heaven.