This Sunday is Father’s Day. It also happens to be the Sunday in our series on the Ten Commandments when we consider the Fifth Commandment to “Honor your father and your mother.” I wish I could say it was impeccable planning that juxtaposed Father’s Day and the Fifth Commandment, but I’m not that clever. It is, however, a very happy accident – or providence. Either way, it provides an opportunity to look carefully at relationships between children (especially adult children) and their parents and how we might faithfully conduct those relationships.
Like the other Commandments, there are many questions about what it means to honor fathers and mothers. For instance, some of us come from homes that were characterized by abuse or serious dysfunction. How does one honor parents whose lives weren’t particularly worthy of honor? Questions like this one are “live” issues for many people. And while the Commandments themselves are short on details, there are plenty of other places we can turn in scripture to fill in the details.
One thing the Fifth Commandment hints at is that honoring our parents is actually in our own self-interest: “that your days may be long in the land I am giving you.” I read that: “take care of your own folks because little eyes and ears are paying close attention – someday they’ll do the same for/to you.”
Children watch as you relate to your own parents. They listen to your opinions and beliefs. And, whether you realize it or not, they are taking it all down.
A few years ago, I taught a class on parenting and one of the chief lessons I learned was that “new” parenting techniques and philosophies aren’t always the answer to healthier, happier children. The only way we can achieve those results is by becoming healthier and happier ourselves.
In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Abraham and Sarah. He promised Abraham that if he would be faithful, God would bless him and all the generations that would follow in his line. I believe that principle is still at work today. The power of God at work in the life of one man or woman is enough to change a family and thereby change the world.
So, on this Father’s Day, remember your children are paying attention – not nearly so much to what you say as to what you do. Therefore, bring your family to worship, that together we might remember the God who blesses and redeems us all.