The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Parents
Treat Them with Respect
My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
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.
The fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). For too long we have relegated this commandment to young children and sometimes even used it as a club over their heads. But God never intended that this commandment be aimed primarily at young children. This commandment is primarily for grown-up children. It is God’s way of telling us how to treat our parents!
But how can we honor our parents when we no longer live under their authority? First, by speaking well of them. Sometimes I hear adults saying terribly disrespectful things about their parents. They speak with bitterness and anger over things that happened many years ago. That raises a question: How do you speak well of people who hurt you deeply? Here I think we’re left with some advice we all learned as children. “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” Speak well of your parents if you can; if you can’t, refuse to speak evil of them.
Second, by obeying them. This sounds odd to our modern way of thinking. For many people the whole point of moving away from home is so that you won’t have to obey your parents anymore. Most of us have heard it said that while you don’t have to obey your parents, you always have to honor them. That’s true enough, but it doesn’t grasp the full biblical implication of the fifth commandment. In God’s eyes we are forever children, always under obligation to honor and-as far as possible-to obey our parents.
Third, we honor our parents by forgiving them. Here we come to the heart of the problem for many people. How do you honor parents who have hurt and abused you? By choosing to forgive the unforgivable. We must not use the hurts of the past as an excuse to evade this commandment. Think of it this way: If we do not forgive our parents, we may repeat their mistakes with our own children.
Fourth, by not forsaking them. At this point we have the example of Jesus who, while hanging on the cross, took time to remember His aging mother. To His mother He said, “Dear woman, here is your son.” To John He said, “Here is your mother” (see John 19:26-27). While dying for the sins of the world, He took time to keep the fifth commandment!
D. L. Moody said, “I have lived over sixty years, and I have learned one thing if I have learned nothing else-no man or woman who dishonors his father or mother ever prospers.”
This commandment is the one that helps you obey all the rest. The first place you can show the reality of your religion is at home. To say it another way, religion that doesn’t begin at home doesn’t begin at all.
Lord God, if I would call You heavenly Father, I must learn to honor my earthly father and mother. Show me what that means. Amen.
Do you find it easy to honor your parents? Why or why not?
Which of the four steps listed above is most difficult for you? Name one way you could honor your parents today.
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