Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Honor Your Father and Your Mother

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you." (Ex 20:12)

Every year when Mother's Day and Father's Day role around, I think of Ex 20:12. These set-apart-days are great yearly opportunities to be reminded of God's command to honor our parents. Of course, Christians should seek to obey this command all the time, but we can use Mother's Day and Father's Day as a means of grace to help us re-commit to this when we aren't doing so well; it can remind us to repent! As the apostle Paul points out in Eph 6:3, this command is so important to God that is it the first of his ten commandments with a promise. It is also the only commandment with a promise attached to it. God promises to bless those who honor their parents with prosperity and longevity. (This is a general promise, similar to a proverb. It is not an absolute promise to every individual.)

I realize that honoring one's parents is easier for some than for others. Maybe you had godly parents who raised you in a Christian home that was filled with love, grace, and godly discipline. Maybe your parents poured themselves out for you, and to honor them is a great joy. Or perhaps you were not raised in a Christian home, and your childhood was less than pleasant and fulfilling; perhaps your parents had many shortcomings and to honor the feels like a burden. Perhaps your parents are no longer living or are not present in your life. The gospels shows each of us how to honor our parents and our heavenly Father, no matter the type of parents we've had.

To those who were raised by godly parents in a godly home, the gospel says remember the grace of God that has been the air you breathed growing up. No one, including you and your parents, deserve anything but righteous anger from God. Your godly parents are a gift of grace, so honor the God who gave you the gift as you honor your parents. 

To those for whom honoring your parents feels like a burden, the gospel frees you to offer unconditional love and honor to your parents. If you have received unconditional love from God that has resulted in salvation and a filling with his Spirit, than you have all you need to obey this command with joy. But that doesn't mean one must be unrealistic about their parent's failures and sins and the pain that brough to their children; it simply means that despite these things, you have supernatural power to obey God in this. So even if you have to spend focused time meditating on the grace you have received in Christ before you can be empowered to honor your parents, we are all called to obey this command, which is gracious and not burdensome. 

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