Fifth in a series by Gerald Ripley
I was about ten years old playing a game of checkers with someone older. I had two checkers left. He only had one checker left but he got into a corner and I couldn’t find the way to win, so the game ended in a tie which was distasteful to me but sweet to him. That night, I took a checkerboard and discovered the right way to win. Now, if I have two checkers and you have one, I will win. (Unless you’re my grandchild. For them, I have special rules.) If you want life to go well for you and you want to live some bonus days on earth, there is a right way to have that happen.
“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). Deuteronomy 5:16 adds “that it may go well with you”. The Apostle Paul summarizes the way to live long and enjoy life when he references this commandment in Ephesians 6:2-3. He also notes this is a promise (made by God).
In this series we are considering the wicked ways God’s people need to turn from so God will heal our land. (See 2 Chronicles 7:14) We are looking through the prisms of the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees.
God’s people are commanded to honor their father and mother. John Calvin in his commentary on this commandment wrote, “The dishonoring of parents redounds to the dishonor of God Himself.” The Talmud teaches that “Since there are three partners in the creation of a person (God and two parents), honor showed to parents is the same as honor shown to God.”
I like the way one rabbi described what constitutes demonstrating “honor” to one’s parents. “One must provide them with food and drink and clothing. One should bring them home and take them out, and provide them with all their needs cheerfully.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Adult children have a duty to honor their parents by providing ‘material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress’.” Such honor should stem from the son or daughter’s gratitude for the love and effort given by the parents. This Protestant writer agrees.
The Pharisees and Scribes followed a tradition that nicely set aside this commandment of God. They designated their resources as “Corban” which meant the resources were “given to God.” Such resources couldn’t be used to assist their parents needs but the Pharisees could use those same resources for any other purpose. Thus they circumvented (escaped, by-passed) the responsibility to spend resources on their parents.
Jesus included this action in the catalog of evil things (greed, covetousness, selfishness, etc.) that proceed out of the heart. The Pharisees emphasized clean hands. Jesus emphasized a clean heart. (See Mark 7:1-23.)
The command to honor parents isn’t limited to good parents or kind parents. Unfortunately, some parents are really bad. I am very sorry if that’s your situation. God didn’t mean for this outcome. Yet, His promises to live long and for life to go well still hold true for you. You can qualify by honoring your parents.
May I suggest some actions you can take? First, choose to forgive your parents for not being the kind of parents God wanted you to have. Second, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal blessings you did receive from your parents. Are you good-looking? Intelligent? Able to fix things? Emotionally or physically strong? Can you digest jalapenos? (I can’t.) Did you get the gene from your Mom that keeps the bald spot away? (I did. Thanks Mom!) Compile a list of your giftings and blessings that came from your parents. Thirdly, report those blessings when you speak about your parents. When someone compliments you, say “Thanks. I have that from my father/my mother.”
It’s your move.
Fifty-two Wicked Ways of God’s People
- Disobedient to parents
- Disrespectful of parents
- Selfishness (Not cheerfully assisting in times of need)
- Not spending time with parents