God has given us the command which says to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).
How exactly do we do this? I've often found that it's easy to think of specific actions which relate to the other nine commandments, but the fifth commandment's application is something I've sometimes thought about in general, not in relation to specific actions. How exactly do we honor our parents?
When watching movies it's often quite clear when kids dishonor their parents. Perhaps when you were in the store you overheard a conversation between a parent and their child that wasn't so great.
But what about me? Sure, I can try to avoid dishonoring my parents, yet the command, while carrying negative implications, is positive. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and I hope to present three ideas which may be of benefit to you.
Before proceeding further, it's probably important to note that I'm praise myself or put down others. Actually, for the last week I've been debating whether I'd be a hypocrite by publishing this. In the end I've decided to publish it because it might be an incentive to me to do better if I've posted it here. Also, I had this post previewed :-)
The following three things sometimes seem very small, but remember that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10).
Sometimes they seem very big and hard. In those cases remember the encouraging verse which says: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)
1. Be completely honest with your parents.
Proverbs 23:26 says: "My son, give me your heart,
And let your eyes observe my ways." Do you have things hidden from your parents? Hiding things from them hinders us from giving our hearts to them, and is a way to dishonor them. Sharing everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) with our parents is a way to bring great honor to them.
How many people love your more than anything, feed you, cloth you, desire your best, sacrifice tons for you, teach you God's word, answer any question, give you honest feedback, and simply pour unconditional love into you for two decades or so?
Not many people! Perhaps you think you'll someday have a spouse to pour your heart out to, but why not do so with your parents now? Simply ask them it they can talk. What gratitude our parents deserve! Don't hide anything from them. Keeping secrets from them will be a drain on our relationship with them. We really aren't showing who we truly are if we wont share certain things with them. Be totally open to them.
2. Honor your parents in your conversations with them.
This is probably what most of us think of when we think about honoring parents. It's very important. The Bible has so much to say about speech and communication.
Think about your words. You'll likely have much more regret over the things you say than the things you don't say. Also watch your body language.
If you have a disagreement, ask how you can bring honor to God in the situation. Make sure you tell them the truth (don't hide things) but do so in a spirit of humility, realizing that they're your parent and that you might be wrong. Ask them to explain themselves. How many times in Proverbs does Solomon write: "My son, listen..." Have open communication.
The tongue is very powerful and can bring about great honor or great dishonor.
3. Honor them behind their backs.
Sometimes things about your parents will nag you and it will seem so natural to vent your feelings to someone else. However, it is in these times we must resist the temptation to dishonor our parents.
If you don't have something good to say, don't say anything at all.
One of the worst things you can do to your relationship with your parent (or with anyone else) is to complain about them to someone else.
Ask yourself how your parents would feel if they could see everything you've said about them in the past twenty-four hours. How about for longer? Or shorter?
What if you think your parents don't deserve your honor?
Well, to be quite frank, our opinions are not conditionals to the command to honor our parents. You must still obey God's command to honor your parents.
All humans, including your parents, are fallen and have faults. I've been blessed with fabulous parents who seek to be obey God. What if you don't have this blessing? They are accountable to God for how they parent you. You are the one who is accountable for how you honor your parents.
Remember that in everything, including conflicts, there are instructions given to us by God in His word, the Bible. Assuming the conflict is not something that can simply be covered in love, or dealt with easily, Matthew 18 gives the way to deal with someone who sins against you. Two wrongs don't make a right.
Also, remember that it takes two to dance. In other words, look for your own faults first. We must ask ourselves how we have contributed to the problem.
My desire is that this will be a blessing to you. It's easy to think our relationships with our parents are quite good, but then maybe we realize how much we've been hiding from them. Correcting this will be a huge relief. What's one specific action you will take today to honor your parents?