Honoring Parents (NIV)
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THERE IS NO TIME IN HISTORY when Christian values and God’s Word were challenged more than they are today. Our children are taught through our ungodly, atheistic, anti-Christian media and public school systems to be self-serving and to take care of “number one.” I’ll never forget my children telling that they were being taught in public school to ignore what their parents were teaching them and to look out for themselves. They were also being taught to push their parents (us) to the limit regarding our home policies, rules and regulations that we, the parents, had set up. Our children were taught (by the schools or their peers) to take, not give; to break the rules until the parents changed them to suit; to challenge us until we yielded to the relentless disobedience the children threw at us. This type of daily conflict would eventually give the child what they wanted to keep peace, and then the child would have “bragging rights” among their peers as their success stories were retold in class settings. This sounds somewhat like what people do in the workplace, in the church, and in whatever situation they find themselves: push the buttons of those in authority until they change.
NO MATTER HOW DEEPLY ROOTED the parents were in God’s Word and in their Christian walk, the Satanic attack was brutal and very uncomfortable. Communications with children were replaced by the telephone, TV, stereo and locked bedroom doors—all of which were used to shut parents out and give children “their space,” as they were supported by their friends.
THE SUBJECT of honoring your parents is one of great importance. One reason for its importance is that both the Old and New Testament Scriptures command you to honor your parents. The 5th Commandment states, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). This commandment must be taken seriously, not only because it is a matter of Old Testament revelation, but because the obligation to honor your parents is one that is reinforced by the New Testament.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). So, honoring your parents is a command which you dare not ignore. But there is a second reason for carefully studying the 5th Commandment. Honoring your parents is one of the highest callings and greatest tasks we face in life. There are two great tasks in life to which most of us are called. The first is the bearing and raising of children, to bring them from the absolute dependence of the womb, to the independence of adolescence, and the maturity of adulthood. The second is the caring for your own parents in their declining years. Often this involves the deterioration of the physical body, as well as the mind. The raising of children has its pains, but it is usually accompanied by the joy of seeing your children grow up, become mature and responsible, and independent. The caring for your parents is seldom as rewarding.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN, to honor your parents? The word “honor” in the Hebrew text means “heavy.” Now what does that mean? God is saying that children are to give weight to their relationship with their parents. God is saying that children are to heavily weigh their relationship with their parents. He is saying that children are to show a deep respect for their parents and view parents as a treasure and a gift from God. This 5th Commandment applies equally to young children who are dependent upon their parents, those who are independent adults, and those with parents who are dependent upon their children.
FOR YOUNG CHILDREN, and even older children who are dependent on their parents financially (even if they are in college or living away from home), you are to obey their parents! There is no discussion; the case is closed. In Colossians 3:20 and Ephesians 6 Paul writes that children are to obey their parents. No questions asked! The Scripture does not say to obey your parents when you think they are right or when you agree with them, or when you like it or feel like it. The only time that a dependent child can Scripturally not obey his or her parents is if the parent(s) ask you to commit a sin against God, if they ask you to violate His Word.
WHEN CHILDREN GET OLDER, their relationships with parents change. When children become independent, their obligation changes from obedience to respect, esteem, and valuing of your parents’ judgment. It changes from obedience to making your own decisions and being responsible for your own actions before God. When you are under your parents’ roof and provision, they have a responsibility for you and authority and responsibility go together, never one without the other. You will never see that one has authority without responsibility, or responsibility without authority in the Scripture. The child whose parents are dependent upon Him will honor his/her parents by providing for them (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; 1 Timothy 5:3-8).
It is very important to realize that honoring parents takes many different forms at different times. This means that one cannot honor parents by some kind of “token act.” It should caution us about those who have a very simplistic formula for honoring your parents. It means that you must carefully and prayerfully come to your own convictions and conclusions as to your personal responsibilities to our parents, based upon the principles of God’s Word.
How Do You Treat Your Parents? “If a man curses his father or mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness” (Proverbs 20:20). How you treat your parents greatly affects your future. God blesses those who honor their parents with a good life and a long life. But He punishes and destroys those who curse and dishonor their parents. This matter is very important to God, so it should be important to you also. God inspired King Solomon to write the Book of Proverbs to teach you wisdom for success and prosperity in life. This proverb is inspired wisdom. Do not neglect it or reject it. Consider it as seriously as anything in the Bible. No matter how good or noble you have been in other areas, your future depends on honoring your parents.
In a day when children’s rights are exalted, Proverbs sounds harsh and old-fashioned. But God’s words are never harsh or old-fashioned—they are right and relevant. A few governments enforcing Proverbs would curb youthful violence in a hurry. For a generation of proud, rebellious, and scornful children, this proverb spells their doom. It is a wonderful proverb, declaring the holy judgment of a holy God against arrogant children.
What does it mean to curse a parent? It means to use expletives or oaths in addressing them or talking about them. It means to verbally wish them harm, in or out of their presence. It means to damn them in god’s name. It means to think any such thing in your heart. Do you think yourself free from these sins? God has cursed every child that is merely disrespectful to their parents (Deuteronomy 27:16), even if it is just rolling your eyes (Proverbs 30:17).
What does it mean for a wicked son’s (daughter’s) lamp to be put out in obscure darkness? It means to have that child’s life ended like snuffing out a candle! The lamp of a person is the spirit and soul within the body (Proverbs 13:9; 20:27). Death occurs when the soul leaves the body to return to God – the light goes out! The proverb speaks of not even leaving a spark. You will die in disgrace and shame.
TIPS FOR CHILDREN:
Don’t shy away from speaking your parents’ language. Try some strange sounding phrases like, “Let me help you with the dishes,” or “Let me help you with the yard work,” and, “Yes sir,” and “Yes ma’am.”
Be patient with your parents’ weaknesses. If your parents do something that you think is wrong, explain to them that you only dislike their behavior or actions, not them.
Encourage your parents to talk to you about their problems. Let them talk and get them to open up to you. And at all times maintain confidentiality in what they discuss with you.
Above all, pray for your parents. They may seem confident on the outside but they need God to get them through the difficult years. If you honor your parents when they are most needy and vulnerable, you also honor and obey God.
CHILDREN WHO ARE TRAINED at an early age to obey their Christian parents will have no difficulty obeying the Lord or those in spiritual authority. When a child sees his or her parents walking in obedience to their heavenly Father, they will learn to obey their heavenly Father too. But if one is a rebel against authority, then that rebellion will be picked up by the children. I have watched this happen in life around me just as the principle is taught in Scripture. Usually, if parents are rebellious and reject God, so do their children, only the children seem to do worse.
Honor is due to more than just parents. The New Testament requires the Christian to honor all men (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17). Learning to honor parents is a significant step in the direction of honoring others.
Children watch their parents and children who are trained to obey their parents and see if their parents are obeying God will normally grow up to obey God. Children who see their parents honoring God will grow up to honor God. Children who are trained to esteem and value their parents will grow up to value and esteem their heavenly Father. That is why the 5th Commandment is very clear. Children, obey your parents so that you may live long in the Lord.
Here, living long doesn’t necessarily mean that you will live to a physical old age. There are many precious and obedient children who die young, and some real rascals live to be very old as we all know just by watching the news. To live long, (in this passage of Scripture), is taken from a Hebrew phrase which is an expression that meant when they obeyed their parents, they would experience the fullness of God’s blessing, the abundant life of fulfillment with joyful contentment. There is a big difference between quantity of life in years and quality of life and its value to others and to God (Proverbs 3:1-2).
The next step. As has been said previously, when children become old enough to be financially independent of their parents and are adults, living on their own, the relationship with their parents changes. Now, children, you are on your own and there are other commandments relating to your life.
You are responsible before God for all your own actions (Ezekiel 18:20).
Now, as adults, you have to make your own choices and live by them and suffer for your wrong choices (Genesis 2:24).
Honoring your mother and father comes into play more as they grow old and are unable to care for themselves (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8).
God’s intent here is not that when children take their parents into their home that once again the children come under their parents’ authority and rule. No, the child is now responsible for the parent (Mark 7:9-13), and authority and responsibility still go together. Who is living in whose home and who is looking after whom?
In America, several factors tend to undermine honoring parents.
There is the impact of technology. In previous generations, fathers were often craftsmen who had learned their trade from their fathers. It took a son years to match his own father in skills, and he would only gradually pass him up. By this time, the father was advanced in years. Now, a child in elementary school may be learning things that parents never heard of. So, each generation quickly surpasses the preceding generation in the knowledge it possesses. There is so much temptation for the younger generation to think of its parents as out of date, antiquated in thinking. In a society where knowledge is prized more than wisdom, the older generation is fortunate to be respected, let alone honored by the younger generation.
Because of the rapid increase of divorce, children are often called upon to honor one parent and despise the other. Neither parent can seem to tolerate the thought of the former mate having the respect of their child.
In a society that encourages us to blame our problems on someone else, it is also easy to pin the responsibility of caring for aging parents on someone else. Perhaps more than any other time in history, we are looking to the government to carry much of the burden of providing for the needs of aging parents.
JESUS AND OBEDIENCE. Jesus Christ was fully God, and God’s Son (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:14; Colossians 2:9), yet He obeyed both Joseph and Mary, his father and mother on earth (Luke 2:48-52), in spite of perfectly knowing all their faults. He even honored his mother from the cross (John 19:25-27). For this and other righteousness, God raised Jesus from the dead and put Him on the throne of the universe at His right hand (Hebrews 1:8-9). Love Him, and follow Him always.