Learn to honor your parents

Dear friends, I have been listening to a sermon preached by my mentor, Vasile Filat, based on I Timothy 5. I want to share some of the thoughts from the sermon with you here in this article. I will not link to the sermon because it is in Romanian. Before we begin, take a moment to read the following verses:

1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,

2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

3 Honor widows who are widows indeed;

4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

5 Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.

6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.

7 Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.

8 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.

As I wrote earlier, this passage is from I Timothy 5. I want to share this with you, especially if you have children or work with children in any way. If you are a teen or older, much of this will apply to you as well. The first commandment in the Ten Commandments that has a promise attached to it is the 5, “honor your father and mother”. This is what we are to teach our children to do and if we have living parents, we must make sure that we do this. The condition is that we will have many days on this earth and they will be good days. We will be satisfied with life. The Law of Gravity says that what goes up, must come down. This is a physical law. There are spiritual laws that function similarly. If you do not honor your parents then you cannot expect to be content in this life, even if you do live for many, many years. How do we honor our parents? What do we teach our children about

I. Respect seen in Attitude

In verse 4, we have to teach children to practice piety. The word piety means “respect”, “fear”, “holy reverence”. Because of our sin nature, we are not naturally inclined to respect the people around us. We are selfish by nature. We must learn not to be selfish. The way that we learn to do this is by being taught to have an attitude of respect for the people around us, beginning with our parents, extending to our elders, and then finally, resulting in respect for all the people around us. This does not just happen. We have to be taught. We must be trained and we must continually practice this on a daily basis. This attitude must be taught to every single new generation that appears on the face of this earth. If we do not teach it and train children to have an attitude of respect, we will suffer as they grow up. They will also suffer because as the spiritual law teaches us, if we do not learn to respect our parents then we will never be satisfied in life. This attitude is a direct reflection of your relationship with God, or lack thereof. As the the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, explains in Proverbs 1:7:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The word “fear” can be translated as “respect”. Our parents take care of us, our physical needs, as well as our spiritual needs. They are to teach us to respect God. When we learn to connect with God and have a genuine relationship with Him, we respect Him, His Word, and His ways. This respect is manifested in our respect for our parents, for our elders, and for the people around us. On the other side of the coin, if we disrespect our parents, our elders, and the people around us then we demonstrate that we do not respect God and our claim of having a relationship with Him is quite dubious. So, as parents, we must instill this attitude of respect in our children by teaching them to connect with God, by teaching them obedience to their parents and to their elders. As children, we must learn these lessons, apply them, and continually remind ourselves of them, especially as we grow to maturity. If we do not teach it to the next generations when they are kids, it becomes much harder as they grow and mature. If we do not learn these lessons during our childhood, it becomes much more difficult as we get older and we will have lots of problems as a result.

II. Respect seen in Action

Respect begins with an attitude and moves to action. This is important because our attitude determines our actions. If we do not address the attitude first and just jump right in to the actions, we run the risk of teaching children to be good hypocrites instead of honoring parents and elders from the heart, they do it out of duty. As children, we have to be taught the proper attitude, but, it is then up to us to take the proper actions based on correct teaching and attitude. In verse 8 of I Timothy 5, the word “provide” means to take care of in a tangible way. It also means to prepare to take action. It is not a reaction. It is a planned response to a potential need. In other words, it means foreseeing a potential need, preparing for that need to be in a state to intervene, and then finally doing what is necessary to help and care for that person’s needs. As a teen or an adult, are you anticipating your parents’ physical needs and preparing adequately so that you can meet that need when the time arises? Are you grateful for all that your parents did for you as a child when you could not care for yourself? Do you even realize all that your parents have done for you so that you could grow to maturity and live, pursing happiness on a daily basis? Do you feel entitled? Do you feel like they were supposed to do that? Do you feel it was their duty and that they owed it to you just because of who you are? The reason you are who you are today is because someone sacrificed greatly to give you food, clothing, a roof over your head, and an education. Are you appreciative of that? Are you ready to repay your parents for all of their hard work? Have you even thought about the need to repay them for all of their sacrifice?

Here are some practical ways that you can show respect to your parents as well as demonstrate your appreciation for all that they did for you:

  1. Do not be too busy to call or visit.
  2. When you visit, never go empty handed.
  3. Always tell them how grateful you are for the sacrifices that they made for you.
  4. Find out what their needs are and help out, not expecting anything in return.
  5. Encourage your siblings to do the same.
  6. Speak highly of your parents to your children.
  7. Teach your own children to be grateful for the sacrifices that your parents made for you, which impacts them directly.
  8. Pray for your parents.
  9. Visit your parents and attend church with them.
  10. Do a Bible study with your parents.
  11. If possible, pay for your parents to have a vacation as a token of your gratitude for all that they have done for you.

As verse 8 teaches, prepare to be able to do these things. Don’t let the years sneak past. Plan and be ready to bless your parents. Again, these things must be taught and practiced. They do not just happen. In Matthew 15, Jesus rebuked some grown children for their lack of respect for their parents, even though they were very religious, claiming to live in piety and have a relationship with God. Let’s take a moment to read what Jesus taught these people and see what we can learn for ourselves.

1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
5 “But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,”
6 he is not to honor his father or his mother .’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

These men were trying to trap Jesus into saying or doing something wrong so that they could prove He was a hypocrite and not God. In doing this, they reveal their own hypocrisy. They are more worried about the traditions of men than what the Word of God has to teach. They were more worried about the way people washed or did not wash their hands than they were worried about the welfare of their own parents. Jesus calls them out. The Bible teaches us to honor our parents. These men’s parents were in need and asking for help. These men did not take preventative measures. They did not foresee the needs because they were greedy and did not want to help. They forgot who raised them and sacrificed so much so that they could have such high positions in society. When their parents asked for help, the men had the ability to help but excused themselves claiming that all of their money was dedicated to God and that if they gave that money to their parents, they would be stealing from God. Do you see the hypocrisy here? Do you see the lack of respect for God and parents? Do you see how unappreciative these men were? Do you realize that we are all like that until we are taught to practice respect? Are you learning respect? Are you practicing it? Are you teaching your children respect? Are you showing them how to practice respect daily, with you, with their elders, with their teachers, with their pastors etc.?

May the Lord help us learn to respect Him, our parents, our elders, and everyone around us.

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