The sixth commandment gives us the secret to long life and a positive future, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:17)
The word HONOR means to treat with respect or to show appreciation for the position a parent holds. Treat your mom and dad like the prizes and trophies they are. The writer of Proverbs describes such HONOR like this, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you” (Proverbs 4:7-8). Like the treasure of wisdom, moms and dads are prizes from God that make life worth living.
Respecting fathers is another way the Bible teaches us to HONOR them, “Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:3). Treat mom and dad like you do Sunday mornings. Of course, when Leviticus was written, the Sabbath started at 6:00 Saturday morning and ended at 6:00 Saturday evening. It was a 12-hour period that designated the Lord’s Day and within that time period you were expected to treat it as holy unto the Lord. You did no work on that day. You were careful about what you did and what you said on that day out of devotion and respect of God. We are to HONOR our Father and Mother like you do the Lord’s Day. Of course, in our day we treat Sunday like any other day. This causes our children to misunderstand the meaning of HONOR both in their own homes and in the house of God.
Honoring your father also carries with it the need to obey him, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). The need to obey is spelled out within the supreme law of God as defined by Moses, “…so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life” (Deuteronomy 6:2).
Living a long life is more than eating all your veggies, getting enough sleep, lowering your stress level, or getting plenty of exercise. Long life is also about obedience to God’s laws and His ways. How can anyone who is out of step with God expect to avoid the consequences of disobedience. Health and happiness begin with the way we obey God at home when it comes to giving dad the HONOR he deserves.
There is an important verse which God spoke to Eli after his sons profaned the offering of God, “I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before Me forever. But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from Me! Those who honor Me, I will honor…’” (1 Samuel 2:30).
How are we to honor God in this day when Sunday is treated like just another day?
How do we honor God when children disobey and disrespect their parents?
We honor God the old-fashioned way. We honor Him by the way we prize and treasure our fathers by treating them with the respect and admiration they deserve. When we honor our fathers, God gives His honor back in return. Honor begets honor. Long life in any land is a by-product of HONOR that begins at home.