23. Bringing Honour

Short Meditations in John 5:  23. Bringing Honour

Jn 5:23  that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him

Observe that this is a follow-on to the previous two verses. Honour comes because the Son judges and his judgment involves giving life to whoever he pleases – to whoever will receive it. When they receive his life, they will honour him and through him honour the Father.

How does this work? I suggest in two ways. The first way is that “through the church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 3:10) i.e. when another person is saved and added to the church, all the angels and powers and principalities will look and realise the wonder of God’s wisdom in making a form of salvation that transforms sinful men and women into children of God. He will be honoured and the Son will be honoured for the work he has done to accomplish this. In John’s Revelation we see this praise and honour: “To him who sits on the throne and to the lamb be praise and honour and glory and power for ever and ever,” (Rev 5:13) and that after previous praise for God (Rev 4:11) for His creative work, and to the Lamb for his work of Salvation (Rev 5:9,10,12). Both Father and Son receive honour in heaven for their works of salvation.

The second way it works is in us individually. As we receive our salvation, we find it is natural to give thanks to God for what He has done in us and the more we realise just what has happened, the more we praise and honour both the Father and the Son. In fact, one might go as far as to say that if a person never gives thanks and never honours the Father and the Son, their salvation is in doubt, for the Holy Spirit within the true believer will naturally stir the believer to give thanks and give honour to them, for He seeks to bring glory to both Father and Son in line with all that is going on in heaven.

In addition to what we have just said, Jesus himself has just said that if you do not honour him you will not honour God. If you do not honour Jesus, you do not realize the wonder of what he has done in making our salvation possible. Indeed, I would suggest that as you spend time in his word and in these meditations, if praise and worship is not the outcome we miss the point and it does not touch us and suggests an absence of spiritual life and an absence of the Holy Spirit. At the end of every one of these meditations that I have written over the years, I find myself praising and giving thanks. The wonder of what we have been thinking about naturally stirs praise, worship and thanksgiving within me – it should do in you too. When we realise the wonder of it all, that should be the natural response – honour of Father and Son.

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10. Seated with the Father

Meditations in Hebrews 1: 10.  Seated with the Father

Heb 1:3b   After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

We now consider the second half of this sentence.  Jesus, now seated at the right hand of the Father is testified to by a number of scriptures. Now I need to make a point here so please be patient: “Jesus … was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honour at God’s right hand.” (Mk 16:19) “Now he sits on the throne of highest honour in heaven, at God’s right hand.” (Acts 2:33) “Then God put him in the place of honour at his right hand as Prince and Saviour.” (Acts 5:31) “Stephen…saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand.” (Acts 7:55) “he …. is sitting at the place of highest honour next to God, pleading for us.” (Rom 8:34) “and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 1:20) “God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name.” (Phil 2:9) “Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honour and power.” (Col. 3:1) “Our High Priest sat down in the place of highest honour in heaven, at God’s right hand.” (Heb 8:1) “Then he sat down at the place of highest honour at God’s right hand.” (Heb 10:12) “Now he is seated in the place of highest honour beside God’s throne in heaven.” (Heb 12:2) “He is seated in the place of honour next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers are bowing before him.”  (1 Pet 3:22)

How often have you heard sermons about Jesus glory and authority at the Father’s right hand?  I have just given you twelve verses that point this out in the New Testament. That way outnumbers the numbers of verses about him being involved in creation or upholding the world by his word of power. This I would have to suggest to you is a vital doctrine. Now notice various things that are said.

In eleven of those verses it emphasises that this is THE place of honour and in the other verse it simply said he has been given a name above every other name, which is the same intent. A place of honour is given to someone who deserves it or who has earned it. Often this positioning is linked with his work on the Cross and his death and resurrection; other times it is just a statement of fact.

Second, note it is at the Father’s right hand. The right hand was always the hand of authority and so Jesus is sitting in the place of authority next to the Father. Again, notice the equality words – besides, next to – he is there ruling with the Father.

That is the third main point to note, that it is a place where he rules. Prophetically the psalmist declared, The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psa 110:1,2) Echoing this, the apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:25).  I think we have commented before on the heavenly anthem recorded in Revelation: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! …..  To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” It is the acclamation of the supreme rule of Father and Son from heaven.

Now the application of this is fairly obvious. The Jesus we worship today is not the meek and mild Jesus of the children’s song; he is the Lord of all Creation and in heaven all bow before both Father and Son.  He has no competitor, he is supreme ruler, all powerful as he administers His Father’s kingdom: “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” (1 Cor 15:24) i.e. the end product points to the present process.

Now there is a mystery in all of this for we don’t know how Jesus is bringing down all his enemies – sin, Satan and all demonic powers and world authorities. The ultimate end is decreed: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) It may be that he is working within history and things happen that we don’t realise he was behind – e.g. the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and many other major events of recent history (as well as other things that are likely to have been his judgments on the folly of mankind).

We have to make the comment yet again, because the folly and ignorance of so many has produced such a loud voice that needs denouncing, there is NO other figure in all of human history, and certainly not within the world religions, who compares in any ways to the claims of the Bible of Jesus Christ. Nowhere else is there any claim that in any way matches what we have been considering in this study.

One final linked thought before we finish: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Tim 2:11,12) This is clearly one of the doctrinal sayings that was taught in the early church, that we are to reign with Jesus. This is confirmed in the heavenly singing: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:10) How can that be? Well, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph 1:22,23) As we, his body, respond to the head, so he will lead us into situations where we, his body, take control and take authority and bring change. I have a suspicion that we have a lot to learn here yet. May we be open to be taught.

12. History Rewarded

Meditations in Ruth : 12. History Rewarded

Ruth 2:10   At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me–a foreigner?”

Boaz has shown great kindness in his approach to Ruth and this evokes the response in the verse above. There are times in our own histories where we go through life thinking it is not very significant and yet it is laying the ground for something that may happen even years later. That ‘groundwork’ can be either negative or positive. If we treat someone badly or have a bad break-up in a relationship,  that can so often come back to haunt us later in life. On the other hand, on a positive note, if we treat someone well and build a good relationship, that may come back to bless us in later years.

What is now happening to Ruth, we are about to see, is built on her behaviour in the years before now. But Ruth is amazed at how nice Boaz is being to her, especially as she is not part of the community of Israel, she is a foreigner. Perhaps back in her own country this would have been unusual behaviour. We do sometimes take for granted things that are culturally good in our own country assuming it is so worldwide, but it isn’t necessarily so; in fact it is often very different in other parts of the world. So Ruth wonders.

And so Boaz explains: Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband–how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.” (v.11) It is easy when casually reading a story to fail to realise the significance of things happening. We did note earlier on in these studies that common sense suggested that the two daughters-in-law returned to their own people, their own culture and their own familiar gods, but if they had done that it would have left now elderly Naomi entirely on her own and defenceless and prey to goodness knows what on the journey back.  Ruth had given up her past and committed herself to going with Naomi together with all that that might entail. That was no cheap commitment, and Boaz understands that. He recognizes that she had cared for Naomi – “what you have done for your mother-in-law” and that she had given up her old life to go with her – “you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.”   Those two things counted in his value system, and he appreciated her for it.

But he’s also a godly man and therefore he invokes a godly blessing over her: “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (v.12) i.e. may God do you good for the good you have done (to Naomi), and may coming to live in this land bring all of His goodness on you.

When invoking a blessing, it is always important that we  comply with the revealed will of God or spiritual principles that operate. Right from the outset in the Ten Commandments we find, “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12) The apostle Paul takes this command into New Testament Christianity: “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 6:1-3) Note how he refers to it as the first command that comes with a promise which he reiterates in a wider world context. Honouring parents may include honouring parents-in-law and Ruth has certainly done that.

Thus Boaz emphasises the principle that if you honour, protect, and care for your parents, you will receive God’s blessing, God’s goodness. Note also in passing the strong emphasis that Boaz is making. This is not just a rule or principle of life, it is something that God Himself specifically does to reward or honour those who comply with and conform to His will. It points to the Lord and emphasises to Ruth that because she is now in Israel and has been acting righteously, she can expect the One True God to cover her with His blessings or His goodness. It is easy to miss this but living in God’s kingdom isn’t just about us conforming to His will and following His leading, it is also about Him specifically acting into our lives to bring goodness. It is not chance and it is not some mechanical rule, it is God expressing His love in practical ways to us. He delights to do good for us and when we are living in accordance with His will, then opens the way for Him to come with His goodness and do and bring good to us.

For Ruth this started back in Moab when she chose to go with Naomi. That was a good starting point, but it continues when she comes into the land and goes out into the field to find provision for Naomi and herself. These are righteous acts and they will be rewarded by the Lord. This ongoing story about Ruth, is not just random chance, it is built upon her righteous responses to the circumstances before her. we should remember that the same applies to us: whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, will we act righteously? Remember, those circumstances may appear quite negative, as they certainly were for Ruth, but the Lord looks to see if we will respond righteously in them whatever they are. As we look to Him and commit ourselves to Him, we will never be disappointed, for He will always bless us, He will always bring His goodness to our lives. Hallelujah!

34. Focus of Honour

Meditations on Jesus in John’s Gospel : 34 : Jesus, Focus of Honour

Jn 5:22-23      Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

To honour someone is to respect or highly esteem them and more often than not we show it by some act of deference.  We honour people because of who they are and what they have achieved. In this sense God is to be honoured above all others. We express our recognition of this honour by worshipping Him.

When a country sends an ambassador, the way the host country treats the ambassador is an indication of what they feel about the sending country. If they honour the sending country, they will honour the ambassador. Giving honour is an indication of the high feelings you have about that person, and honouring their representative is exactly the same.

In our verses today Jesus starts by speaking about judgement and makes a strange sounding statement: the Father judges no one. Now that is strange because from early on in the Bible (Gen 18:25) God is seen as a Judge. So how it is now, that Jesus says that the Father judges no one? The answer comes in what follows: but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.  Individual judgement, says Jesus rests in him. Does that mean that he assesses each person on their works? No, for those who have heard of Jesus, their judgement depends on how they have responded to Jesus.

The basis of judgement today is upon how an individual responded to the news of Jesus. Even a child at Sunday School, or even ordinary school, who hears mention of Jesus is judged on their response to him. Even if his name is just used as a swear word people have heard his name in our society. Do they wonder about it, do they go searching to find out about this name, and having read of him, have their hearts been stirred? Their responses to the name and person of Jesus Christ reveals something about what is there on the inside. It is that response, or the lack of it, that judges each person.

In these verses judgement and honour are tightly bound together. If you hear about Jesus, go finding out about him and have your heart lifted by him, you are honouring him for who he is and you are assessed or judged on the basis of that honouring. Those who have hearts to seek God will, when they hear of Jesus, realise who he is and honour him in the same way that they honour God in their hearts, thus they honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Indeed if they don’t honour the Son that is an indication of the state of their heart and an indication of what they feel about God and so He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father. Jesus revealed the Father by his character, his nature and by everything that he did.

If we are too blind to see this, then it shows that our hearts are blind to God. The truth is that we judge ourselves. Someone has given the example of a person going to hear a piece of great music and, coming out, they criticise it and say how they didn’t enjoy it. This is not a criticism of the great music but a revelation that the person in question either doesn’t understand music or doesn’t have music in them. Similarly the man or woman who can read all about this wonderful person who walked the earth two thousand years ago, and remain cold towards him, reveals their inability to appreciate goodness and holiness and perfection. They judge themselves when they fail to honour the Son and the One who sent him.

30. Respect and Honour

Meditations in 1 Peter : 30:  Respect and Honour

1 Pet 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.

There is an ongoing flow in Peter’s train of thought. We might trace it back to verses 9 and 10 where he speaks of us being “a chosen people… a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him … now you are the people of God.” We are, in other words, a special people. Having identified us in this way, he wants us to stand out for good: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.” (v.12). Expanding on how we are to act within society he said, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority” (v.13) so that “by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (v.15) and, on a negative note, he warns us “do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.” (v.16). In all of these ways he wants us to be people of good standing in society so that we will glorify God through our lives.

Which then brings us to “show proper respect to everyone.” There’s been a lot about respect in the media in recent years, largely because of the feeling that it is something that is largely absent in modern society. So what does respect mean? Why does it permeate right the way through culture? Even the youth culture phrase, “Don’t you dis me,” (i.e. don’t you disrespect me) speaks of this requirement to be respected, something we would like but which seems is often missing.

Now when Peter speaks of showing ‘proper respect’ there is an implication that respect should be given to every person. Respect means holding a good and right attitude about others, accepting them and esteeming them for who they are. At the very basic level, every person is made in the image of God, and every person is loved by God. Yet God has made each of us a sovereign figure, we rule our lives (in some measure at least) and have the ability to make choices that affect our own lives. We are not mere animals and we are not robots. We are human beings with an amazing range of abilities. We hold multiple roles in life – e.g. daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, employer etc. etc.  – and in what we do and how we live we reveal something of the wonder of God, whether we realise it or not.

If we were really able to see one another with God’s eyes, we look past the failures and foibles and go, “Wow!”  I really like the prophetic gift because it allows one to see past the exterior and see something of the reality of the person before you and their potential and we are all considerably more than a cursory glance reveals. Because of that, each and every person is worthy of our respect in some measure.

But then Peter continues with three further brief injunctions which will reveal to others what we are really like. First there is “Love the brotherhood of believers.” That is shorthand for having a good attitude towards all other Christians. Note ALL other Christians. Why? Because we are all part of one big family that has God as its Father and who have their origins in Him. We are indeed all brothers and sisters in this family. We are related by the Holy Spirit and therefore there should be love among us.

Second there is simply, “fear God.” That is shorthand for, hold on to a right and proper relationship with the Lord whereby we honour Him for His greatness and glory and give Him the worship that is due to Him. He may be our heavenly Father but don’t be over familiar or casual with Him. He is God Almighty, Creator of all things. ‘Fear Him’ means realise the awesome wonder of who He is!

The third and final injunction in this simple verse is, “honour the king.” There is a right balance here. Honouring God first and then the rulers He has put in place, the figurehead of human society. The head of state or government is a powerful person and a person who carries much responsibility and, Scripture testifies, is answerable to God for the way they exercise their rule at the head of society. This person also deserves our respect (and prayers).

As we respond in different ways as Peter indicates here – with love, fear, respect – we reveal that we are people who understand our place in the scheme of things and our responses indicate we understand those to whom we respond. Thus, more than any other people, we should reveal reality. That is what this is all about! This is a world with God at its head and, one way or another, everyone is related to Him. Christian or otherwise, they deserve our respect, our ‘esteeming them for who they are.”  May it be so!

7. Parents

Lessons from the Law: No.7 : Honour your Parents

Ex 20:12 Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you

The fifth commandment that we have here in our verse today, is a link between the first four that are all about the Lord, and the latter five that are all about relating to the rest of the world. Interestingly it isn’t about the marriage relationship – that comes later – but is about our fundamental attitudes towards our parents. It is almost as if the Lord is pointing out that the most fundamental attitude to be checked out, is that towards our parents. Every single one of us has parents. We may not get married  and we may not have children and so rules in respect of that would be irrelevant to us, but this is an all-encompassing law that applies to everyone one of us.

Now before we move on in this mediation and move on to consider the remaining of the Ten Commandments, I would suggest that if we ignore the first four commands, it is probable that we will ignore the remaining six. The reason I say that is the if you push God out of the equation of your life, you have no foundation upon which to determine what is right or wrong, and very soon selfishness will be the predominating characteristic observed in your life. No longer is it, what is right because it conforms to how we were designed to live best, but now it is simply what do I want, what gives me the most pleasure regardless of the outcome. It is not surprising therefore, that where in Western societies we see the rejection of God, we also find a complete abandoning of the remaining six commandments – and it starts in the family!

Again, before we really get in to focusing on this command, we would do well to note a grave danger that hinders obedience to it. It is the observance of our parents as failures. Tragically we now are in a downward spiral where this appears to get worse and worse. Fifty years ago most families stayed together. Divorce was relatively rare. That didn’t make marriages perfect or even always good, but it did mean at least that the parents were there for the child. Now I believe it true to say that most marriage failures came because of the husband. The wife is emotionally linked to the children but there is not such a strong link for the father.

Men also historically had greater freedom and so when we think back to characteristic ‘bad fathers’ they were those who drank too much or betted too much. Such ‘freedoms’ were not available to the mother who was historically linked to the home. It is probably true to say that infidelity mostly came as initiated by the husband and when there was abandonment of the family, it was by the husband. It is this latter thing which is mostly observed by the children, reinforcing their negative ideas about marriage. Even if it wasn’t something like this, we can all look back to remember the shortcomings of our parents. All of us who are parents fail to be perfect; our children will always have something to feel negative about. It is what living in a fallen world is about – and perhaps that is one of the reasons that Lord places this command before all other commands about relating to others.

The fact is that we cannot disregard this command because out parents were less than perfect. We must leave our parents’ failings for the Lord to deal with. Our call is to ‘honour’ our parents. What does honour mean?  It means to exalt or esteem or acknowledge distinction. Why should a child do this of their parents? First of all, because God says so, and He makes it a condition of a good life! Yes, this command carries an outworking with it: so that you may live long in the land.” Failure to keep this command suggests that our lives will be impaired – the implication IS there! Long life normally comes in Scripture as a result of the blessing of God. If God’s blessing is withheld then life will be limited. Note again what we suggested honouring means: to exalt or esteem or acknowledge distinction. It is a mind thing, an attitude thing first and foremost and then when the attitude is right, right actions will follow.

Now this is not to say that we should be blind to our parents’ shortcomings or even excuse them, but it does mean we put them aside and purpose, nevertheless, to adjust our attitude so that we exalt or esteem them for who they are apart from their sin. Now for some this is very difficult because they may have been abused throughout their childhood by their father. Now this raises lots of other issues, for example about blowing the whistle on their sin. If you have been abused, don’t keep quiet about it. You first of all confront your father with his wrong and if he fails to repent and seek your forgiveness, you share it with your mother or some other close adult. Can you ‘honour’ a father in such circumstances? With immense difficulty and only by the grace of God. If we are a Christian, we still want this man to turn to God and be saved. This is the ultimate of our desires for our parents if they are not Christians, and it may be this desire in particular that motivates you to view your parents through different eyes.

Often in counselling we have seen an individual be shown by the Lord what their parent was really like. One abused daughter in particular in my memory, wept for her father saying, “I didn’t know what he had been through to make him like that.” It did not excuse what he had done but it did explain it and the understanding helped her put aside the years of abuse and cry for his salvation.

Most of us fortunately were not abused physically, but it may have been abuse verbally or by neglect. We don’t excuse it ever, but with God’s help we can explain it, and that may help us be able to put aside the hurt of the past and cry for our parents. There is so much more that could be said but space prohibits it. In Ex 34:7 we find the Lord spoken of as one who punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:7) but the truth is that at any time we can turn to the Lord and find forgiveness, cleansing and a new life. We don’t have to take on the sins of our parents which do so often trickle down through the generations. A good sign, seen so often, is the decision of new young parents not to go the way of their parents. With God’s grace you can be different and in so being you can bring honour to your own parents and, if they are still alive, your life can eventually be used by the Lord to change theirs. Now there is a challenge, but make sure your attitude is right to start with.

47. Family Harmony

Ephesians Meditations No.47

Eph  6:1-4 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. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

The context you may remember is of submission creating unity in the church, the body of Christ. Paul developed that concept through the picture of marriage and now extends it into the whole family. It is a subject – and through these verses especially – that often raises a number of questions. Paul starts off, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” He is looking at the parent-child relationship and so starts with the child who is the one who is most likely to have difficulty with the submission concept. This especially comes so in teenage years when the young person is seeking to find their own identity, and part of that process involves temporarily drawing away from the parent. It is also difficult when the child is a Christian and the parent is not and the parent makes demands that conflict with the faith of the young person. It may also be difficult when the parent is a Christian and the young person has not made a decision for Christ themselves.

In the call to children there are two things that deserve particular attention. The first is the word obey’. The role of the parent in God’s design is to be there to provide for and protect the child and, if we follow Old Testament teaching, to train up the child (Prov 22:6). Part of those things will be to issue instructions which may vary from the mundane (e.g. please will you pick up that toy off the floor), to the more serious, (e.g. I really don’t want you mixing with those teenagers who are taking drugs). If we ever had a question of the reality of sin (rebellion), observe any child! The wilful refusal to do that which is asked (or required) leads us into discipline issues, which are beyond what we have space for here.

The second thing to consider is Paul’s use of the words, ‘in the Lord’. Now he obviously includes these for a reason and that, we suggest, is similar to our thinking when it comes to the requirements of the State. The Law, or the instructions of the parent, should never go contrary to God’s laws, instructions etc. Thus a non-Christian (although tragically this doesn’t exclude some Christian men), who brings instruction to a child that involves them submitting to abuse, is wrong and should not be heeded. Wisdom suggests that as the child gets older instructions give way to discussion, i.e. bald commands give way to explanation. It is always wise to put in some form of explanation with every instruction (e.g. …otherwise your toy might get broken if you leave it there) but in teenage years talking and discussing (in a family forum?) are much better and are an acceptance and recognition of the child’s growing responsibility.

Then Paul gives a reason for ‘obeying’ parents, and it is because it goes with the original Old Testament instruction as the fifth of the Ten Commandments: “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.” Honouring is slightly different from ‘obeying’ in that obeying can be an expression of honouring. Honouring is more about having an attitude of respect, a recognition of the role that God has given to this older person. It isn’t about how well they have performed it! So important did God consider this that He made it a condition of blessing, originally in the Promised Land, but now in life generally. I wonder how many young people DON’T realise this (or older ‘children’ too!) that God’s blessing on their life can be curtailed because of a bad attitude towards their parent?  Even when the parent has not been good, godly ‘honouring’ should produce a concern for (and prayer for?) that parent.

There is another side to this submitting which might be simply summarised as ‘don’t make it difficult to be submitted to’: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Why does Paul say this to fathers? First, because fathers, as the ones who have the responsibility before the Lord for the family, should be the ones taking the ultimate action to bring about the training in righteousness of the child and, second, fathers tend to be more heavy handed in these things than the mother. It is thus something that, for both reasons above, the father needs to give particular thought to.

A final comment: in all of these things pertaining to family relationships, legalistic demanding of them does no good. Whatever else is required of such parental leading, the primary thing is love and acceptance. Let those two things temper all you do with your child, and increasingly as they grow older. If there is a genuine loving relationship, there is more likely to be obedience that flows out in response to that love. You will also need to cry to the Lord for wisdom on more than a few occasions! May it be so!