Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother.”
How often we can take people for granted. We can fail to appreciate them as a result of our familiarity with them. This can include our own parents. Thankfully, we have God’s Word to “slap us upside the head” with an exhortation to never take them for granted. Rather, we are to honor them.
The word honor is a very high word. Elsewhere in the Bible this same Hebrew word is translated “glorify.” We are to hold them in very high esteem. This morning, my mind turns to my own parents and two incidents that influenced my view of them perhaps more than anything else. First, my mother. As I was growing up, I definitely took my mother for granted. Although I loved her, I don’t know that I necessarily “honored” her, at least as I should have. Then, in my junior year in high school, my mother grew gravely ill. She ended up in a hospital for a month and was nearly incapacitated for six months. During that time, it fell on my father, my two sisters and me to pick up the slack. Oh, how this opened my eyes. Until that point in my life, I took for granted what she had done for us. As she took care of the house and us, I paid little attention. Then when we had to do it, I was stunned. I saw as never before what an incredible woman she was. I saw how she worked for us day in and day out for all those years, while I so casually took it for granted. It was one of the greatest attitude adjustments in my life. How blessed I had been to be loved like this! What a wonderful woman she is!
Then, my dad. Here again, I paid little attention over the years as he went off to work each day. That’s just what dads do, right? But then I had another attitude adjustment. In the summers during my college years I had opportunity to work at the meat packing plant where dad worked. It was hard work, dirty work, involving long hours. I endured it ok because I knew I was leaving at the end of the summer to go back to school. But then one time in the middle of the work day I took a glance at my father, and paused, as I thought about the fact that he wasn’t leaving at the end of the summer. No, he had worked there for years, day in a day out, never complaining. And why did he do it? Simply because he loved us. It was how he took care of us. It was moment I’ll never forget. It humbled me and helped me to see my dad in a way I’d not seen him before. How God had blessed me with such a wonderful dad.
No wonder the all-wise God has reminded us to honor our father and mother. No wonder He would have us to not take them for granted. But it’s not just our parents we should honor. God has likewise told all believers to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).” May God help us to do just that, not taking the people God has placed in our lives for granted, for it is in and through people that God so often is pouring out His great love into our lives. May God help us, while we (and they) have breath, to honor those He has placed in our lives, rather than to take them for granted as we can so naturally be inclined to do.