Honour your parents
‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth.’ Ephesians 6:1–3
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Genesis 46:26–47:12
Reverence or honour. It might be hoped that a sense of obligation might make children love their parents, yet this is not always the case, and where there is not a total want of love, there is often a great want of respect. But what shall we say of those who despise their parents, can make a jest of their infirmities and, instead of submitting as they ought, to bear with their temperaments, fly as it were in their faces. I must say, as I said before—it is a sad sign, a presumptuous contempt of God, which, unless they are partakers of his mercy by faith in Christ, will expose them to his curse both here and hereafter. When parents are old and in the decline of life, it is the duty of their children to behave to them with the greatest tenderness and care—patiently to bear with their infirmities and, if necessary and so far as in their power, to provide for them. It is to be feared there is wickedness in many hearts secretly to wish their deaths, to look upon them as a burden, especially if on the one hand they have money to leave behind them, or on the other they contribute more or less to their maintenance. All sharp language and unkind behaviour to them at such a time is not only a breach of the command but barbarous, base and ungrateful. May nothing of this be found amongst us, especially amongst those who profess to fear God. I hope such will always … study how to make the little remainder of their parents’ lives as comfortable as may be. The pains and infirmities of old age are hard enough to bear, without this addition of unkindness from those who are most obliged to them.
FOR MEDITATION: I hope often to pray that this child and all your children may be taught of God, and that if he is pleased to prolong their lives, they may grow up like olive branches around your table, may be an honour and a comfort to their parents, and when their parents shall be removed to a better world, their children may fully supply their places as members of his true church, and instruments in his hand of much good and usefulness in civil life!
John Newton to William Wilberforce, 21 December 1802
[on the birth of Robert Isaac]
SERMON SERIES: RELATIVE DUTIES, NO. 3 [3/5], EPHESIANS 6:1–3