2016-5-08 Honoring Our Parents

EXODUS 20:12                                                                                           MAY 8, 2016


It is fitting that on the day we honor our mothers that we also examine what God desires from those with whom he made a covenant promise. God gave us the Ten Commandments to be our guiding set of principles to protect our relationship with the LORD who made us and who made all things. Exodus 20:12 (NIV) 12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Moses gave a summary of what God expected from the Israelites before they entered into the Promised Land; this message is found in the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Hopefully you noticed how important it is for God’s chosen people to follow these principles and to incorporate them into daily living and to teach them to your children!

From the creation God designed the family unit to be the backbone of our human relationships. Genesis 2:24 (NIV) 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” When a man united with his wife they become a separate family unit. We instinctively know that family is important or should be. In our sinful world we see the tragic results when families do not function as they should, as God intended. Moses gave a bit more description in Deuteronomy when he gave them the fifth commandment. He added the phrase “that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you”.

The dictionary defines honor as showing respect and to show high regard for another. Leviticus 19:3 (NIV) 3 “‘Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.” How does one show respect. Respect begins with listening. Proverbs 1:8-9 (NIV) 8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Respect means listening! Notice that in this passage it does not mention anything about agreeing.

Scripture also indicates that God calls children to obey their parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV) 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise– 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” God has provided families to nurture and educate their children. Obedience is something that God knows each person needs to learn so that life will go well. As sinners we instinctively rebel against all authority: parents, teachers, bosses, government officials, and we rebel against God.   Proverbs 1:7 (NIV) 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

I will admit that I did not always listen to my parents. I believe most young adults go through a period of rebellion where we don’t listen to our parents. As I grew older I began to understand that though society had changed my parents had experienced much more of life than I had and they had learned from the school of hard knocks. Proverbs 12:15 (NIV) 15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” It is indeed foolish to not even listen to advice. When my father-in-law was nearing the end of his days he was living with us. One day he called me downstairs to speak to me. He gave me several pearls of wisdom. He gave the same advice to his son. I was honored that he would pass on to me what he had learned. Even now I wish that I could talk with my parents as I miss their insight.

We also need to heed the advice of scripture in how we relate to our children. Parents also need to listen to their children. Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) 13 He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame.” If we fail to listen to our children we are giving them an unintended lesson that we think they are not worth listening to. Paul provided this warning to parents (fathers) immediately after telling the children to obey their parents. Colossians 3:20-21 (NIV) 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” The passage I quoted earlier from Ephesians about obedience also asks fathers to be careful in how they treat their children. Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

I have come to understand that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can also be a time of great anxiety on the part of some. Not everyone had a good father or good mother. There is also a lot of guilt over the feelings of being a failure as a mother or as a father. We cannot change our past! We can only seek to go forward. God offers grace, mercy, and most of all forgiveness. We need to seek God and seek to be better at parenting and in showing respect and honor.

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good—he is joy peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you and inside every person, too.” The grandchildren were silent about for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The Cherokee elder simply replied, “The one you feed.” Do we feed our sinful nature or do we feed on the goodness of the Lord and his Word?

Mark 12:28-31 (NIV) 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” God has blessed us by loving us as we are; and by loving him we will seek to please him by showing love and respect to those who help us along the way.

God has blessed us and will bless us as we show respect and thankfulness to our parents. Happy Mother’s Day!

Let us pray.