Honor Your Father and Mother Still Applies
Dear friends in Christ,
To leave children home alone for the first time is a big step for responsible parents. I grew up at a time and place where my parents never locked doors. They didn’t have to. Their fear was not that someone would break into our home; their fear was that their children would destroy their home. I grew up in a family with five boys. My oldest brother was married at eighteen. He was gone early from our home. My second brother went away to school. The three of us who were left were pretty close in age. So what were my parents going to do? Were they going to tell me and my younger brother that we were supposed to obey Charlie when they went away? Obey my brother because he was in charge? Sure, Mom! Sure, Dad! Do you know the definition of anarchy? Picture what resulted when the three of us were left alone.
Anarchy is what happens when everyone does what is right in their eyes. Growing up in the 1960’s I remember the race riots in the cities. Portions ofLos Angeles,Detroit,Greensboroand other cities were set on fire. It was a turbulent time in our country’s history. In addition to that, theUnited Stateswas involved in a war inViet Namthat no one liked. Because people are not content, that becomes fuel for a fire. People don’t obey laws and authority and take matters into their own hands. No, that’s not right.
Our God is a God of order. That’s why he does create authority. He creates authority in the home, the government and the church. God expects his people to respect authority he has given. Today on this Mother’s Day, let’s consider the commandment “Honor Your Father and Mother; it Still Applies.” Let’s look at what it means from 1) A Child’s point of view; 2) From the parent’s view.
There are Ten Commandments. Yet Jesus said they can be summarized by a single Word – Love! Jesus said that the love goes in two directions – perpendicular and horizontal. We love upward and we love sideways.
When Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments he summarized them saying we need to “Love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, strength and mind.” He also says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The first three commandments speak of our love to our God – love his person, love his name and love his Word. But after that he commands us to love our neighbor. Notice that it begins with “Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and that you might live a long life on this earth.”
When God gives us this commandment to love mother and father, he doesn’t limit that to the family but he does start in the family. He has given us representatives in government and church too. But it is significant that he starts in the home. While we love them, we also honor them.
The word ‘honor’ in the Hebrew comes from a word that means heavy or weighty, even serious. A problem can be weighty or serious. That’s bad. But there are people in your life who also carry a lot of weight – not because they aren’t on Jenny Craig – but because they have an important position in respect to responsibility they have toward you. No person on this earth is more important than your parents or being a parent. No rock star, o movie star, no athlete, no girlfriend or boyfriend, no teacher or coach! No one is more important to you than your parents. They are your parents by God’s order and authority. You would never have come into existence without them. There was only one who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin – and it’s not you! They are the heavyweights in your lives. Love them and honor them because of their position. They are your parents by the Will of God.
Love them in your thoughts. I know you don’t think about them like you would a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Getting their autograph is not a big deal – it’s not even a deal at all - like getting Beyonce’s, but remember what your parents do for you. They are the ones who feed you and give you the bed you have to sleep in. Maybe they don’t always give you the designer clothes, but you have clothes to wear. Their life lessons are far more valuable and practical than hearing about all the gossip out there that a recording artist or movie star will give. Your parents’ example is way more likely to be good and godly than what they do inHollywood. Think about your parents. Thank God for your parents. Pray for your parents. That’s pleasing to God.
Love them with your words. Watch what you say and how you say it to your parents. Don’t get mouthy. Don’t argue and be defiant. God expresses his displeasure with a defiant son or daughter. Listen to what he thinks of defiance. The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.” Defiance is definitely NOT cool in God’s eyes.
Solomon had David as his father and Bathsheba as his mother. David and Bathsheba were pretty smart people. Because of their good instruction son Solomon wrote, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Paul the apostle said, "Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
By honoring them, you are honoring God. By dishonoring them you are not only sinning against them but you are also dishonoring God. When you are argue with them you are arguing with God. When you disobey them, you are disobeying God. Children, if you want to show your love to the Lord, then love your parents!
Remember that your parents never quit being your parents. They are your parents until the day they die or you die. Jesus pointed out how wrong the spiritual leaders of the Jews would establish their own laws that superseded God’s law. Instead of supporting his parents he could declare a gift as Corban and the person was alleviated from taking care of his parents. Jesus said "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” There were two lessons Jesus was teaching: 1) God’s Word is always God’s Word and is always above human tradition; 2) Your parents are always your parents at whatever age they might be and deserve to be honored. By loving your parents, you are also loving God who put them there.
But this commandment also means a lot for parents. The stats are telling. 80% of the jail population comes from broken homes. In fact, if you look at the broken homes, everything from high school drop outs to obesity to drug use goes way up. It would go a long way to solveAmerica’s problems if we spent a lot of time teaching and modeling to our youth that you need the Lord in marriage, you need to fall in love f\or all the right reasons, that sex waits until marriage and children come at least nine month after marriage as the Bible says. Yet we hear that is old-fashioned. Well it is better to be old fashioned than have all these problems caused primarily because we don’t follow old-fashioned ways of our old fashioned God.
Fatherhood and motherhood are a blessed privilege. A group of expectant fathers were in a waiting room, while their wives were in the process of delivering babies. A nurse came in and announced to one man that his wife had just given birth to twins. "That's quite a coincidence" he responded, "I play for the Minnesota Twins!" A few minutes later another nurse came in and announced to another man that he was the father of triplets. "That's amazing," he exclaimed, "I work for the 3M Company." At that point, a third man slipped off his chair and lay down on the floor. Somebody asked him if he was feeling ill. "Yeah," he responded, "I happen to work for the 7-Up company."
No matter what the Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” Children are the gift that continues when we are gone. Is it hard to raise children? You can talk about all the things that make it hard, the time, the effort, the cost. Someone once said, “The trouble with children is that when they're not being a lump in your throat, they're being a pain in your neck.” Yet the Lord always says they are a gift from God – “offspring a reward from him.”
As gifts from God, we are called to take care of them and treat them as gifts and a reward from him. So start as a mother and father understand that God has given you a sacred task. There is so much to say about being a good parent that deserves to be in a Bible class that lasts a few weeks. But there is a passage that says a lot in a little space. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Moms and Dads need to take to heart what it says. It is interesting that Dads are addressed. Dads need to be. So many are missing from the home! I saw a story about a woman who had eleven children with all different last names. I see a lady who is making a living by having illegitimate children. I see dads who love making babies about could care less about the responsibility of caring for them. Too many men think that raising children is the mother’s responsibility. The buck stops here with the father whom God has charged with the overall direction of the home.
Don’t exasperate them. I will always remember how one of my children used that big word on me when she was no bigger than the word herself. Don’t discourage your children by putting them down and shaming and embarrassing them.
Rather bring them up. The word is in the active voice as part of Greek syntax. I don’t expect many to know what that means, but children do not automatically turn out the way you wan them to and the way God wants them to. They grow, but parents need to do the cultivating. How? By teaching, modeling, showing, taking time, making time!
While it is in the active voice this is an imperative. It is a command. Bring up your children is not a suggestion. This is the will of God. This is not a “Well, if I were you I would do this.” Bring them up means that is the will of God. Not to do so is sin!
It is also in the present tense. When something is in the present tense, it means ongoing action. It didn’t end yesterday. It is not something you can put off until tomorrow. It is constant effort and persistence.
While it is time for this sermon to end, allow me to say one more thing. It is the most important point of all. Bring them up. Teach them to look up. Child rearing means nothing if they die in unbelief. Child rearing is anything but successful if they weren’t given the truths of law and Gospel. Child rearing is nothing if parents don’t teach their children about sin and the need to confess sins to the one who is above all offended, our God. Child rearing is anything but successful if they don’t know what happened onCalvary.
As parents we have not always done what was right. But people who go to Calvary for all the failures is also the person who can teach others, even their own children that there is peace and pardon, more than we will ever need found there.