Only the good die young! We’ve heard that a thousand times. It’s a very popular saying, and Billy Joel made a million dollars on a song by the same name! Whenever we see someone die before his expected time, we often say that.  Does that mean that those who live to be a ripe old age are not good? The Bible says differently. The patriarchs all lived to “ripe old age.” Furthermore, one of the Ten Commandments promises that children will live long if they honor their parents. Some argue that the Commandment, as recorded in Exodus doesn’t refer to a physical long life, but rather to a long occupancy of the land that God was personally giving to Israel. I wouldn’t deny the truth of that promise, yet the focus on this Commandment, along with the associated promise, was repeated in Deuteronomy 5:16 with a focus on individual lives. It reads, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Paul further uses the Deuteronomy passage and implies the promise is one of long physical life. Ephesians 6:2-3 says, “Honor your father and mother. That is the first commandment that has a promise. Then things will go well with you. You will live a long time on the earth.”

It’s heartbreaking to see someone die at a young age. I think of miscarriages that don’t get to see life. Abortion stops a life before it’s even begun. Kids are all good in God’s eyes. There are adults that die before their time that are good also. But the natural order is to live a long life. Whereas the good often do die young, the good more often live a long, healthy, productive, and happy lives. Even Spock knows that one of the most profound blessings that can be pronounced on someone is to “live long and prosper.” It is a true honor and privilege to see your children’s children and even more to see your children’s children’s children.  Through all the pain and suffering that Job endured, the final verses record God’s blessings on his life. It says, “And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations.  And Job died, an old man, and full of days” (Job 42:16-17)

It is not easy for some to honor their fathers because of their history. Some fathers have not been all that they should have been. Some have even maliciously harmed their children and have so alienated them that there is little if any, hope for reconciliation.  Yet, the Bible tells us to honor our parents. It doesn’t say that they deserve it.  The three biblical reasons for honoring Fathers have nothing to do with the worthiness of the parent.  We should honor our earthly father because it’s the right thing to do (Ephesians 6:1). Colossians adds another good reason: “for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). But the reason that God gives in the Commandment itself is that honoring our parents serves our own best interests in the long run. Even though God’s greater purposes sometimes bring about untimely deaths of good people, anyone who wants to live long and prosper should take advantage of this special weekend to honor their father regardless of their perceived worthiness.