Many years ago I had occasion to visit a family whom I hardly knew. I invited my father-in-law who was staying with us to accompany me. On arrival we were warmly welcomed. The children’s behaviour particularly impressed me. With no suggestion from their parents they welcomed Dad, sat him in a comfortable chair and asked if he would like a drink. We were each given a cup of tea and the children ensured Dad was offered biscuits. That afternoon continues to linger in my mind after thirty years because of what the parents had successfully modelled to their children.
Honouring is a commandment, and it is the only one of the ten with a promise. Honouring today is a rare jewel in many families. Tragically it is conspicuously absent. Honouring in the family produces an atmosphere of acceptance and of belonging. It is a nurturing atmosphere where each member is free to express who they are, and of course it breeds security. The husband who honours his wife, and the wife who honours her husband models to the children the value of honour.
Historians inform us that the integrity of the mighty Roman Empire was eroded by the collapse of the family unit. Families are the building blocks of society. Family as God intended it was to reflect security, where the father was to reflect our Father in heaven both to his wife and his children.
God commanded Moses to instruct the Israelites to remember annually the awesome wonders of their deliverance from slavery to freedom, from Egypt to Mount Sinai, and He emphasised they were to teach their children. So they created a special meal where their children could experience their ancestors’ misery and pain and glorious deliverance through their five senses, ‘as if they were present in Egypt’. It is in fact a love story, as God calls His people to Himself. It took the form of a marriage: ‘Then Moses took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey”’ (Exodus 24:7).
The ten commandments are given to Israel as an essential part of that love story. God is saying to them, and to us, that obedience to the ten commandments describes our response to Him in this extraordinary love story. Central among the ten is that unique one which promises longevity of life. It is the key to the prosperity of a nation: remembering to ‘teach them to your children and to their children after them.’ In doing so we are honouring God our Father. (Deuteronomy 4:9).
Recently, the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, made this startling statement: ‘Western civilization is on the brink of collapse, like that of ancient Rome, because the modern generation does not want the responsibility of bringing up children.’ We need to remember the forgotten key is to educate our children to be honouring, so that in turn they will honour their parents, and hopefully our nation will become an honouring nation.
Prayer: Our Father You have honoured us by giving us life, and, more importantly, life eternal. Would You stir our hearts today by giving us the grace to honour You in return. May we honour our parents and our children as a model to them, until that day when Your kingdom has come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
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