Honour Your Father and Mother

By Pastor Teck Uy

Many are preoccupied with keeping themselves healthy and strong in order to have long life. They eat good food, engage in physical activity and experiment with whatever they feel will contribute to their health. However, the Bible gives us a better way to have long life when it says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise— that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-2). To honour our fathers and mothers is to give them our highest respect. The best and most practical way to do this is to obey them. There are many who struggle in this area of obedience. They believe that once they have reached a certain age, they can decide for themselves and need not obey their parents anymore. It should be noted that the Bible’s requirement of obedience did not specify an age limit. For as long as a child is not yet emancipated by marriage, he is bound to obey his parents. However, this does not mean that he will obey his parents blindly and will not have the chance to argue his case, should he disagree. Rather, he can argue his case before his parents with utmost respect. To do otherwise is to show dishonour, defiance and rebellion.

Since the command to obey and honour our parents entails some sacrifices, God ensured that there would be enough motivation for obedience. Thus, he appended a blessing to his command, saying, “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 5:16). This command and the accompanying blessing can best be appreciated if we consider how Joseph honoured his father Jacob. When he was young, he was obedient to his father and became his father’s favourite child. When Joseph was sold into Egypt by his own brothers, he lost contact with the whole family. Alone in Egypt, the Lord blessed him and he became second-in-command next to Pharaoh. But when he was informed that his father was still alive, he quickly brought him from the land of Canaan to Egypt, together with his brothers. Notwithstanding the fact that his father and brothers were shepherds and thus were detestable to the Egyptians, Joseph honoured his father by presenting him to Pharaoh. He was not ashamed of his old father. He did not care that his family’s occupation was shepherding. All that mattered to him was that he needed to honour his father. For doing so, the Lord blessed him with a long and prosperous life. The Bible tells us, “he lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children” (Gen. 50:22-23).

On the other hand, those who choose to disobey and dishonour their parents will surely suffer the consequences. This was the fate of the sons of Eli, the priest. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, treated the Lord’s offering with contemp. They also slept with women serving in the temple. Though their father called their attention, they persisted in doing their wicked deeds. As a result, the Lord gave Eli this judgment: “The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line…And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day” (1 Sam. 2:31-36). Indeed, not only did the sons die on the same day, but their father, Eli, as well. For not doing enough to stop the wickedness of his sons, the Lord said to Eli, “Why do you honour your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?” (1 Sam. 2:29).

We should honour our parents not only with words, but also by our actions. We need to provide for their emotional and material needs. The apostle Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Friends, let us give our best in honouring our parents. While they are still alive, let us enjoy their company and be proud of them, regardless of their financial and physical conditions. We cannot be where we are today without them bringing us forth into this world. They deserve our love and care. Always remember that we are growing old, too, and we shall reap what we sow. If we honour our parents now, our children will do the same to us when our time comes. Let us then honour our parents and receive the long and prosperous life that we are promised. Glory to God!