Sunday, February 23, 2014

Honor Your Father and Mother

Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism, “To fatherhood and motherhood God has given the special distinction, above all estates that are beneath it, that he commands us not simply to love our parents but also to honor them. With respect to brothers, sisters, and neighbors in general he commands nothing higher than that we love them. Thus he distinguishes father and mother above all other persons on earth, and places them next to himself. For it is a much greater thing to honor than to love. Honor includes not only love but also deference, humility, and modesty, directed (so to speak) toward a majesty hidden within them. It requires us not only to address them affectionately and reverently, but above all to show by our actions, both of heart and of body, that we respect them very highly and that next to God we give them the very highest place. For anyone whom we are whole-heartedly to honor, we must truly regard as high and great….

“[So] learn what this commandment requires concerning honor to parents. You are to esteem and prize them as the most precious treasure on earth. In your words you are to behave respectfully toward them, and not address them discourteously, critically, and censoriously, but submit to them and hold your tongue, even if they go too far. You are also to honor them by your actions (that is, with your body and possessions), serving them, helping them, and caring for them when they are old, sick, feeble, or poor; all this you should do not only cheerfully, but with humility and reverence, as in God’s sight…

“[N]otice what a great, good, and holy work is here assigned to children… If they wish to serve God with truly good works, they must do what is pleasing to their fathers and mothers, or to those who have parental authority over them. Every child who knows and does this has, in the first place, the great comfort of being able joyfully to boast in the face of all who are occupied with works of their own choice: ‘See, this work is well pleasing to my God in heaven; this I know for certain.’ Let them all come forward and boast of their many great, laborious, and difficult works; we shall see whether they can produce a single work that is greater and nobler than obedience to father and mother, which God has appointed and commanded next to obedience to his own majesty. If God’s Word and will are placed first and observed, nothing ought to be considered more important than the will and word of our parents, provided that these, too, are subordinated to obedience toward God and are not set into opposition to the preceding commandments.

“You should rejoice heartily and thank God that he has chosen and fitted you to perform a task so precious and pleasing to him. Even though it seems very trivial and contemptible, make sure that you regard it as great and precious…because it has its place within that jewel and holy treasure, the Word and commandments of God.”

These words of Luther remind us of the great honor that God has bestowed upon parents and of the honor which we are to show to them. And so reminded of our duty and convicted of the ways in which we have fallen short, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness.