Anyone who grew up in organized religion knows that God says, “honor thy father and mother.” Not everyone knows where it says that, or why it is said, but pretty much every kid has been told to “honor” their parent. It has been occasionally used for purposes of manipulation or even said in jest between parent and child, but when the Bible says to honor (Exodus 20:12)God means it.
There is no room for slack and no room for discussion when God says to do something, and there are always consequences when we refuse. Never going as far as God removing His Holy Spirit and revoking our position in Christ, but we experience consequences none-the-less.
Our Old Testament predecessors did not have it so great when it came to grace. Anyone who even cursed his or her parents was to be put to death! (Exodus 21:15, 17, Lev. 20:9; Deut. 27:16)
“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. “They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ “Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.” Deut.21:18-21 (NASB)
I fit every one of those adjectives; stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, glutton, and drunkard at one point in my life. When I think about it now, it brings me shame and I want to hang my head at the terrible way I treated my parents when I was a teenager. I didn’t think anything of it, everyone talked to and about their parents the way I did. It was accepted and in many homes it was acceptable. It was not in my house. My dad thought nothing of putting me back in my place in ways that (unfortunately) are not acceptable in today’s politically correct culture.
My heart was full of anger at things I could not define or understand. I just knew that I knew better than my parents! I reminded them of how old they were and how times had changed…I thought so much of my own opinions, and believed I was very wise. In reality, I was a prideful snot.
I wonder today how much my behavior hurt my parents. They were very good to me, and I lacked nothing growing up. I was treated well and loved and protected and I returned their goodness by being a brat. When I was 18 I decided that my mom was not so bad. I have no idea what changed, but it was in me. I asked my mom to go to a movie with me, and that was the beginning of our friendship.
I realized that my mom was an exceptional lady. She left school after the 9th grade and went to work. She is very smart, and I wonder what her life would have been like had she graduated high school. Despite her lack of higher education she kept meticulous financial records for our home, and under her guidance paid of not one, but two homes years before they were due. She was a fabulous cook and her delight was in being a wife, mother and housekeeper. It was because of her influence I wanted to be a wife and mother when I grew up and did not want a career like my peers and sisters. I saw how complete of a life my mom led all these years and I decided it was enough for me.
Today, as I care for her personal needs I know how much my heart has changed because of Christ. Gone is the prideful, jerky daughter who thought her parents didn’t know anything. Now I seek them out for wisdom and guidance and I desire to model my life after my parents lives.
What is not to want? Married over 60 years to each other, they have been loving and faithful and have honored their marriage vows. They have made great examples for us and our children to follow.
I am honoring my parents today, and I say this not for my own boasting but for the glory of God. God has been faithful to my desire to honor my father and mother and changed my heart from one that sought after pleasing self to one that desires to glorify God. At least in this one area I can say I am honoring God with my life totally!