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Thinking Upright (and Downright) in Displaying Honor

God is pretty clear about what he thinks when it comes to honor and honoring our father and mother. In fact, even if a person cannot even tell you what book in which it comes from, I suspect that most people have referenced Ephesians 6:2.

“Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise… – Ephesians 6:2 NIV

With this statement, the Apostle Paul is teaching that there are parental responsibilities for guiding children in the ways for acting respectful and honorable. Our culture, though, also has a tendency to use it in a context claiming of the sorts, “Hey kid, the Bible says to honor me.”

That attitude, prevalent as it is, is pretty off base.

God Doesn’t Need Your Trophy

What does honoring our father look like?

We tend to think of honoring someone with praising applause, trophies, or ribbons. Maybe a token timepiece for years of service to an employer. Also in the workplace, we tend to recognize good work with gift cards and bonuses. But heck, in 1 Peter, we are told that even gold is just perishable trash (1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:18). So I don’t think our earthly trinkets really fit the bill.

So, again, what does honoring our father look like?

I tend to think that our actions become a more appropriate way of honoring. As a parent, it’s so joyful to witness my child carrying out an act of respect or good manners. It is reflective of me. And it tells me that I am doing right by God in their upbringing.

Yes, by teaching obedience, you are honoring God. Living an upright life is a means of honor. As you honor your earthly father and mother, you not only honor God, but you enable your parents to join in that honoring.

What About Dishonoring Our Father?

But, being the cursed race that we are, our sinful character shows up in many ways that dishonor. Our shortcomings reflects upon those same people (dad and mom) we are charged with honoring. The world sees them as inept and incompetent instead of honoring them.

In short, it’s because we are poor representations of their character.

Even worse, we go as far to dishonor God through our shameful actions. And, just as we invite them to join us in honoring God when we are upright, we pull them into a ring of dishonoring God when we are downright rotten.

And dishonor does not go unnoticed

Again, God is pretty clear about our responsibility to honor our father and mother. Not only does he speak through Paul in the verse from Ephesians, that verse is a virtual mirror passage of Exodus 20:12, which says “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

A Parent’s (and Child’s) Responsibility to Honor

As Christian parents, we should provide our children with a loving and God-centered home that embraces Biblical teaching and discipline. Children who learn to respect authority are not guaranteed success in life, but it certainly helps their chances.

A day that goes horribly wrong from the moment I step out of bed, does not give me a right to dishonor my father – whether that is my earthly father or our Heavenly Father.

We you are leaning toward the downright path, take a step back, and lean to God. Ask him to point you upright. We’re always being shaped by the Potter – the Master artisan who has a vision for his finished work.

Seek discernment and sincerely learn from each and every moment. Question whether your actions are honoring or dishonoring.

May you use your wisdom to honor the King of kings through both your actions and life!

Note: this post is adapted from a post originally appearing at