HABIT #5: RESPECTING DAD & MOM
10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families ❧ Part 10
I don’t know who wrote this, but I wanted to share it with you this morning. We had the meanest parents in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our parents fixed us a dinner that was different than other kids had too. Our parents insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. They had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. They insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less. We were ashamed to admit it, but they had the nerve to break the “Child Labor Laws” by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think they would lay awake at night thinking of more things for us to do. They always insisted on us telling the truth the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, they could read our minds, and life was really tough. They wouldn’t let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so they could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 18. Because of our parents we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other’s property, or ever arrested for any crime. It was all their fault. We never got drunk, took up smoking, stayed out all night, or a million other things other kids did. Sundays were reserved for church, and we never missed once. We knew better than to ask to spend the night with a friend on Saturdays. Now that we have left home, we are all God-fearing, educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like our parents were. The world just doesn’t have enough mean parents anymore.
I want to help you this morning to be “mean” parents. We’re looking at the Ten Commandments. God gave them primarily for the home, for families. This is especially clear in the fifth commandment: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you (Exodus 20:12). At what point does it say we as children no longer need to honor our mother and father? It doesn’t. There is no age limit built into this verse. It doesn’t say honor your father and mother until your eighteen. It just says honor your father and mother.
We’re going to look at two questions today. One: Why God gave us families. And two: How can we honor our parents? First, Why Did God Give Us Families?
I God made parents to represent Him to their children. It is well known that children form much of their view God from their parents. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He began, Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 6:9, NAS). Jesus says when you talk to God, He invites you to call Him Father because that’s the kind of relationship He wants to have with you. By using the term Father, Jesus is also pointing out parents play a unique and powerful role of representing God to their children. It is from our parents we first learn to respect authority.
There are three sources of authority in life: the home, the church, and the government. They are the basis for an orderly society. Each of them plays a significant role, but none so much as the home. God wants you to honor the position of parenthood regardless of the personality behind it. If we don’t respect authority in the home, we won’t respect it anywhere. Many of you are now parents and even grandparents; you’re no longer children. But you can still hear your parent’s voice of authority speaking into your life!
Some, because of this, don’t want to have anything to do with God. They think if God is anything like my parents, I don’t want to have anything to do with Him. The truth is none of us are perfect parents. Only God is the perfect parent. Even the best parents have made mistakes and sinned. The Bible says, “We’ve all sinned.” As a result we’re all warped.
There are parents who are unworthy of honor. They were abusive, manipulative, neglectful. What is God telling me to do? Am I supposed to ignore the pain, put on a happy face, and pretend everything is great? No, you’re not. But God is saying I want you to honor the position of parenthood. You may not have had perfect parents, but there is still a need in your heart for a perfect Heavenly Father. All of us have a deep Father-need in our hearts. Just because you didn’t have the greatest parents, the need for God as your Father doesn’t go away. It’s still there and only God as your Heavenly Father can fill it. The point is, Dads and Moms, you play a unique role in their children’s lives of representing God to them.
II God made children to need a family. The first thing God did after forming the Garden of Eden was establish the family – a dad and a mom, then children. Long before God developed nations or formed governments, He established the family and sin didn’t alter its importance. Children have a built-in need for family. If they don’t find it at home, they will seek it out elsewhere. Much of the reason children become involved with gangs is to give them a sense of identity or belonging as a family. God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6, NLT).
You may not have had a great family life, but that doesn’t take away your desire for family. That’s why being a part of a church family is so important. God made the Church to be a family to provide moms and dads, grandmas, and grandpas we may not have had growing up. God intended the family to be the first school, the first principal’s office, the first hospital, the first government, the first church.
An elderly lady was amazed at how nice the young man was next door. Every day he would help her gather things from her car or help her in her yard. One day the old lady finally asked the young man, “Son, how did you become such a fine young man?” The young man replied, “Well, when I was a boy, I had a drug problem.” The old lady was shocked, “I can’t believe that.” The young man replied, “It’s true, my parents drug me to church on Sunday morning, drug me to church on Sunday night, and drug me to church on Wednesday night.” God made us as a church a family.
III God made families to preserve national stability. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you (Exodus 20:12). God says several needed things here that are being fiercely opposed in today’s world. First, He says a family is father and mother, a man and a woman. Second, He gives equal dignity to moms and dads. In a world that for ages has devalued women, God restores the dignity and respect men and women both equally share being made in His image. Third, the key to preserving the stability and longevity of a nation is restoring the family as God intended it. This commandment comes with a promise that where there is honor in the home, there is stability in the land.
Today, we have huge movements sweeping across America seeking to erase God’s created order of the family. Movements like Antifa and Black Lives Matter, and others, do not believe in the nuclear family and are bent on destroying it. Try as they might, it won’t work. They are sowing the seeds of their own self-destruction. Dennis Prager writes, Honoring parents is best antidote to totalitarianism. One of the first things totalitarian movements see to do is break up the child-parent bond. The child’s allegiance is shifted from the parents to the state. Even in democratic societies the larger the state becomes, the more it usurps the parental role (Prager, TTC, p.39).
How Can We Honor Our Parents?
I By obeying and respecting them. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right
(Ephesians 6:1). My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother (Proverbs 6:20). Obey, observe…. do what your parents say, willfully, pleasantly, immediately. The Bible teaches that as long as you’re under your parent’s roof you’re to obey them. After all, your parents are the ones you depend on for food, clothing, shelter, safety, taking you to the doctor and so on. They have the right to call the shots in your life. When you’re out on your own that’s a different issue.
There was a very short period of time when I was in high school that I decided to cut class. My friend and I thought we’d take a break from school. Shortly after playing hooky, we went back to school. Everything seemed back to normal until my parents asked me to explain a letter they’d received from the school asking why I had missed class for a number of days. I was caught!
To my surprise, my father wasn’t angry. He just said, “If you don’t want to go to school, that’s fine. You’ll need to get a job and move out. If you want to live under my roof, you’ll go to school.” I never missed a day of school after that! Honor your parents by obeying and respecting them.
II By accepting and appreciating them. I believe it was Mark Twain who said that his parents had learned a whole lot after he turned twenty years old. Proverbs 30:11 warns, There is a kind of man who curses (qalal – despise, think lightly of) his father and does not bless his mother (Proverbs 30:11). The older you get, you become more aware that your parents were not professionals when it came to parenting. They were novices. You come to this realization very quickly when you become a parent yourself! I remember telling my oldest daughter once that I’d never been a parent before. We were both walking down a road we’d never traveled.
Your parents may not have been perfect, but they need your acceptance and appreciation. Why should I choose to accept my parents? You say I didn’t have a choice. Neither did they. You’re kind of stuck with each other. That’s why acceptance is vital.
Acceptance and appreciation does not mean you agree with everything they said or did. It does not mean pretending that they were perfect. It does not mean ignoring their mistakes.
It does mean realizing they did for you what no one else could do – they gave you life. It means, as well, forgiving them where they didn’t get it right. Forgiveness is crucial because it helps protect us from making the same mistakes in our own children’s lives.
It means appreciating the sacrifice and effort they went through as parents. It’s not until children become parents themselves that they appreciate the things they took for granted. Your parents made sure you had food, clothing, shelter. Most of us had an allowance. Somebody said a father is somebody who carries pictures where he once carried money. While a family was taking pictures for the church directory, one dad said, In this family portrait, why don’t you have my sons put their hands in my pockets so it will look natural. Honoring your parents means accepting and appreciating them.
III By caring and providing for them. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). The Bible says that the way you treat your older, elderly parents is the demonstration of your true faith, of whether you’re really a Christian or not.
When Moses penned the fifth commandment, it was before 1935 when President Roosevelt set up what we know today as Social Security. For thousands of years the only social security parents had was their children. Today, that has changed. Many expect the government to take care of the elderly. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. To honor means to understand the significance of. What I want us to see is that many parents today rarely see or hear from their children. This is especially true of nursing homes. We can still honor them by sending flowers, making a call, spending time with them. Letting them know you appreciate the sacrifice they made as parents.
For some of you this is a very painful message. It may be very difficult to honor your parents. You may have been abandoned by your parents, rejected. God is not asking you to gloss over it. He’s not asking you to deny the pain. He’s not asking you to repress it or to make excuses for your parents, their alcoholism or something else. God does not want you to fake it. He wants you to face it head on. He wants you to find healing and find a family you need.
Isaiah 53:4 says, Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried (Isaiah 53:4). This verse was a prophecy of what Jesus would feel when He hung on the cross. Notice it says our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried. Jesus personally knows your griefs and sorrows. He understands and died on the cross for them. I can’t say I understand your grief and sorrow, but Jesus does. Elsewhere, God says He assumes full responsibility for abandoned children. Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close (Psalm 27:10, NLT). God will never give up on you. Jesus wants you to find healing.
He also wants you to find a family, one that will last for eternity. One that will provide the love, acceptance, security you need.