Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. — Exodus 20:12
Some might read the fifth commandment, which the apostle Paul reminds us was the first with a promise (Ephesians 6:3), as a form of prosperity theology, the belief that mustering enough faith and/or obedience to God will bring wealth, health, and power. But such a belief would be taking God’s Word out of context. This command paired with the other nine show us a picture of a right relationship with authority and the natural overflow of goodness that comes when wisdom is chosen over folly and surrender over self rule. In Psalm 19, the psalmist David reminds us of the beauty of the law of the Lord and how its very presence in our lives brings great reward.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. — Psalm 19:7-11
God promised long and fruitful life for the Isarelites in the Promised Land if they obeyed Him and showed honor to their parents. What might our reward be today for honoring our elders?
Sometimes the biggest blessings we may experience from our interactions with our elders come as we give them our time, ask questions, listen long, and truly care about them. They have so many stories to share. Here are a few questions you could use to guide a conversation as you tell them that you’re learning more about what it means to honor elders:
- How were you taught to respect your elders?
- What did honor for parents and other people in authority over you look like when you were a child?
- What would you tell your younger self about interacting with elders?
- If you could change something about how the younger generation treats the older in today’s world, what would it be?
We can also experience blessing when we correspond with a loved one. A good, old-fashioned letter to an elder in your life can bring him or her joy and is a way for you to express thanks for his or her investment in your life.
Sometimes sharing a meal with an older friend, visiting a shut-in, or finding a practical way to meet a need is just as much a blessing for the giver as for the receiver. May we be the ones who reverse the American tendency toward shoving aside the elderly, choosing instead to honor them as fellow and valuable image bearers of God.
We’d love for you to share some of your ideas for how to honor people in your life and your world. Share them at firstname.lastname@example.org.