Word # 5: Honour!
Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
The first four Words define how God wants us to show love for Him. This Fifth Word begins a series of six Words that show us how to love other people—starting from our earliest years in the family.
In a way, this Word connects the two sections, since God reveals Himself as our loving Father and no father deserves honour as much as our Heavenly Father! However, this does not always happen! God pointed out this much-too-common problem in Malachi 1:6: “A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honour? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?”
This Fifth Word helps us see how learning respect and honour in the family setting helps prepare us to show honour to our ultimate Father. It all starts at home and the family is the first place to practice making right choices and managing our resources well. Our parents resemble the Creator, in as much as they were partners with God in the creation of the child. Honouring father and mother opens a channel for God’s continued blessing.
Interestingly, this is the first commandment which carries a promise. “So that you may live well, enjoying God’s provision!” God’s blessings and well-being stem from giving honour to those in authority over us. Paul says, ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…” (1 Peter 2:13)
God calls us explicitly to honour our parents because the family is the foundation of human society. The need to honour authorities is not a consequence of the fall; rather, the command to obey those over us reflects the way in which God has ordered His universe. If children do not honour their parents, all other earthly authorities will collapse. This happens every day in homes where children are not required to obey their parents and in homes where fathers are absent. An unbearable strain is put on local authorities and the government.
Families where there is consistent discipline and the children are encouraged to love and respect both parents tend to produce individuals who are productive, law-abiding members of society. As one commentator has put it, cultures that do not encourage obedience to the proper authorities sow the seeds of their own destruction. The command to honour one’s father and mother carries with it the broader implication to submit to one’s employer, governmental officials, and any other duly instituted authority.
Remember, that we stand on the shoulders of previous generations which have gone before us. We have shared, directly or indirectly, in the development of our culture and the opportunity afforded us as individuals. Those who have gone before us, rulers, parents, teachers, coaches, soldiers, or employees have provided us with good laws, a college education, or a clean workplace. All have an investment in us. It is to our benefit to honour that investment and to draw fully from the wisdom and expertise of those with greater experience.
Seek counsel from people with more experience that we have. When faced with a major decision, we can get sage advice which can help to avoid mistakes and choose wisely.
The original Hebrew word for honour is ‘kabed,’ which means weighty, heavy. In this Word, honour signifies the utmost importance of keeping an agreement or fulfil an obligation. We honour people because we honour God.
Honour is the idea of a bond between an individual and a society as a quality of a person that manifests itself as a code of conduct, which manifests itself in values such as honesty, dependability, compassion and truthfulness.
Honouring people means to keep our word, do what we promise and pay what we owe. It means producing an honest tax return and not cheating on our employer.
Practising honour to all, opens a window for God’s blessing, “that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” This a land of wealth, contentment and joy!
Making the right choices?
This Word #5 encourages us to seek ways to honour others by being honest and truthful in all our dealings, respecting and utilising the experience of those who have gone before us.
Next week: Word # 6: “You shall not murder."
... to be continued ...