Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Obedience and Honor

Exodus 20:12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’”

God is a parent/child kind of person. He is in complete support of the relationship between a child and their mother and father. After all, God is a Father and a Son! Remember? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - three-in-one? If He is Father and Son, and we are made in His image, what should that say about our own relationships with our parents?

The first thing you should realize is that the fifth commandment doesn’t even mention obedience. It says to honor your father and mother. God is most interested in your attitude towards them. Honor goes much further than mere obedience - it deals with our heart. Honoring your parents means to respect them, to have a high regard for them, and to highly value them. This is the attitude God wants His people to have toward their parents.

Ephesians 6:1 tells christian children to obey their parents in the Lord. This means that as long as their parents aren’t telling them to disobey God’s Word, they should obey. Obedience to parents is required for as long as a child is under their authority. When a child grows up and leaves the home, the command to obey is no longer binding on them. But notice this, the command to honor has no age limit!

Even grown-ups are commanded by God to honor their father and mother. This attitude of respect and esteem should continue from childhood into adult years. Even after one’s parents have passed on, their memory should be honored and respected.

How important is this attitude of honor to God? Extremely! Even though it is the fifth commandment, it is the first to have a promise attached to it. The promise is this: “that it may go well with you and you may live long on the earth.” This is a concrete promise from God; if you honor your father and your mother, you will have a long, good life! Count on this: if things aren’t going so well for you - the first thing you should examine is your attitude and respect for your parents!

Now, this gets a little delicate in some situations. What if parents aren’t deserving of honor? What if a parent was abusive, neglectful, or hurtful? What should we do when we’re commanded to give something that isn’t deserved? All too often, adults are still struggling with what their parents did or didn’t do for them as a child. Even after the parents are dead and gone, those wounds can still fester. Surely God doesn’t expect honor in these situations, right?

Wrong. It is true that God’s command to obey our parents has a condition attached (“in the Lord”). But His command to honor our parents has no conditions on it. He told us to honor them, whether they deserve it or not. But when you think about it, this unconditional honor isn’t anything new. After all, God loved us when we didn’t deserve it - right? Doesn’t He command us to love each other - unconditionally? Even His command for us to forgive others has no strings attached to it. We’re just told to do it! So why would it be surprising for God to command honor towards parents, whether it’s deserved or not? You see, God is far more interested in our obedience from the heart than He is about whether someone deserves your honor (or love, or forgiveness).

So how do we honor a parent that doesn’t deserve it? You honor them by releasing the pain they’ve caused. You honor them by giving them the respect of a parent. You honor them by forgiving them of the wrongs they have done. You honor them by letting go of any hurt they may have caused. And you honor them by praying for them.

Of course it’s not easy. Not a single one of the ten commandments are easy. If we could do it on our own, then we wouldn’t have needed salvation! But, through the amazing, empowering grace of God we can receive the strength we need to obey this command from the heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment