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RELIGION COLUMN

Passage about honoring parents meant for adults

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Clay Perkins
Mid-Atlantic Christian University

Friday, June 16, 2017

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. — Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

This commandment was not written to children. Think about it. It was written for adults. There are plenty of passages in God’s Word prompting children to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20, 1 Timothy 3:4). But this passage is not for encouraging our children to do as they are told. This passage is to guide those who are no longer children. We adults are to honor those imperfect humans whom we call Dad. So, how are we to honor? What does honor mean? Why not use the word love instead of honor? What if our father does not seem worthy of honor? Does honoring mean more than giving a gift card once a year?

Make sure you respect your Dad. In public and in private treat him with the dignity the role of fatherhood deserves. We respect our fathers in large part because the role of fatherhood is paramount to the survival of our civilization. A great society is only as strong as its families. We respect our fathers not because they are perfect. We respect our fathers in part because of the importance of family.

By the time we reach adulthood, we know that those who are fathers carry a huge responsibility. Being a father is one of the most difficult roles any man will ever fulfill. So as an adult, be intentional, especially if, like me, you had a good dad who made sure you did the right things to show your love and appreciation. Gift cards are nice. But most people with adult children simply want their children’s time. They desire to know how your life is going. How the grandchildren are doing. What is happening in your job.

Seek the advice of your parents, even if you already know what is best. Join your parents in their favorite hobbies. If it is fishing, go fishing. If it is golfing, go golfing. If it is cooking, cook together. The day of your dad doing what you like should now change to your doing what your dad likes. Set the radio to his favorite station. Watch a movie with him that he likes. Listen to the music of his generation. Ask him to tell stories about his past. Ask his opinion on current affairs.

After my mother died, I realized I needed to spend more time with my father. I lived about an hour’s drive from my dad and started a weekly meeting with him. Every Monday night I left work early, took Dad to his favorite restaurant (the same one every week – and it was not an especially good place to eat), and then went back to the office to make up the time. It was a special time of friendship. A few years later I moved away with a career change, and shortly after that, Dad’s health failed and he died. I will always be grateful that I was intentional in spending time with Dad. Be intentional now; you might not get the opportunity tomorrow.

If you need to forgive your father for something in the past, you should forgive him. No one, not even fathers, has his act together all the time. You can choose to forgive and have a relationship with your dad, or hang on to that anger and hurt. Choose well.

Some have dads that crossed a line with abuse so ugly that they would be wise to forgive, but never to have a relationship with their biological father. This is why the word is honor and not love. Many have found the importance of fatherhood with a surrogate dad; some, through adoption.

So how can you honor your dad? In what ways will you show honor to the position of fatherhood? What will you do on Father’s Day and every day to show honor?

Stay focused.

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