2015-03-24 - The Fifth Commandment
How Do We Honor Our Parents Today?
As with last week's commands, often some of the specifics are matters of conscience, and the needs of the specific situation. What is appropriate for some to do, may not be for others.
One example idea that immediately springs to mind is the fact some young people believe they have the responsibility to straighten out their parents. Now, we are well aware they know more then their parents, so they must correct faulty thinking. What they have to accept is that the child does not have to agree with the parents, but must honor their right to think the way they do. By the way, this isn't speaking to the child’s responsibility to serve as the Lord's witness to the unbelieving parent.
The really tough questions arise over the needs of the older parents. Do we put them in our home or a nursing home? This issue isn't a simple one, because we can go back and say: “Well, in biblical times, it wasn’t an issue, because the parent was always in the home. Therefore ours should also be.” This would be fine, if it were only we that are a product of our culture. But our parents are a product of a similar one. They may want to be on their own. The real issue, in honoring our parents, is to try, with the Lord’s help, to find what they want - and to answer the harder question, what is best for them?
As already noted, my parents had my grandfather living with us, from the time I was nine months old, until he was put in a nursing home when I was in Jr. High. It was living in a Christian environment, and the witness of my parents, that led to his salvation late in life. But the time came when the combination of his failing health - and my mother raising three boys, a husband and a dog - led to the logical decision to place him in a nursing home. My parents were no longer able to adequately meet his needs.
It was while grandfather was in the care facility, that the pastor of their church got the opportunity to see him and lead him to Christ. For my parents, the proper decision was to place my grandfather where his physical and, with God’s intervention, spiritual needs could be met. I think you can see, as Christians, that how to honor our parents is not always an easy issue.
Think about the believer who was severely abused by the parents. How can that individual be expected to honor them? He/she must, because God commands it. But praise the Lord, He will honor the desire for obedience, and will provide the strength to do so. Remember, we are called to honor our parents, not because they deserve it - but by the very fact they are our parents. The Lord has been gracious, though, to many of us, in giving us parents that are greatly deserving of our honor.
“Honor your father and your mother … that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” for as Christ said; “Honor your father and mother,” for the Lord has given us the gift of parents, to bring us up in his way. For we are told by Solomon; “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:3; Matthew 19:19; Proverbs 1:8 ESV).
Honoring your parents means treating them with respect, even when disagreeing with them. It means recognizing they are your parents, even when they fail to act out that role. It means obeying God’s first commandment …
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” you will be able to obey the second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39 ESV).
And certainly, if we are to love our neighbors, we are to love our parents - and if we do - we will honor them.
Next week, we will begin our study of the Sixth Commandment.
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