the end

December 27, 2015

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I know this is really long, 29 points, (just in today’s devotion)but it is the end. And it is one of the most important posts (the last four) that will change every aspect of your life and your relation with God.

 

(1) If children must give honor to their parents, then parenting must be an honorable occupation. One should hardly have to make such a statement, but in today’s world it is necessary to do so. The fact that women line up at abortion clinics around the country and in various parts of the world suggests that bearing and raising children is viewed as something far less than a blessing. This rejects the clear teaching of the Bible, such as is found in Psalm 127. Those who would leave the home and seek fulfillment in the working world in order to gain dignity and respect have also turned from the truth of God’s Word. Let those who would seek to avoid parenting be reminded that in God’s Word parenting is a most honorable occupation.

 

(2) Honoring parents takes different forms for different people, and in different circumstances. Since the Fifth Commandment is very general, we should expect that the application of this command is not the same for everybody. The Old and New Testaments provide us with many positive and negative applications of the command to honor our parents. The young child will honor his parents as he obeys them (e.g. Proverbs, Ephesians 6:1-3).29 The older child will honor his parents as he (or she) is obedient to God. The child whose parents are dependent upon him will honor his parents by providing for them (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; 1 Timothy 5:3, 8).

 

It is very important to realize that honoring parents takes many different forms at different times. This means that one cannot honor parents by some kind of “token act.” It means that the way one person honor his parents may differ from the way another person does. It should caution us about those who have a very simplistic formula for honoring our parents. It means that we must carefully and prayerfully come to our own convictions and conclusions as to our personal responsibilities to our parents, based upon the principles of God’s word. The next three principles underscore three of the more dramatic changes in the relationship between children and their parents, which affect the way in which honor to parents may be manifested.

 

(3) The way in which one relates to parents changes with conversion. When a person comes to Christ as his personal Savior, there are a number of significant changes (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). When a person becomes a child of God by faith, God becomes a Father to them in a new and previously unknown way. From this point on the Christian relates to God as His child (cf. John 1:12; Matthew 6:9). While God was once denied, and His authority rejected (Ephesians 2:1-3), now He is our Heavenly Father, with final authority, authority which has priority over all others, including fathers and mothers. As we have seen from our Lord’s teaching, faith in Christ may alienate children from their parents.

 

(4) The way in which one relates to parents changes with marriage. Marriage is usually the first of several dramatic changes in the child’s relationship with his parents. In the Book of Genesis, God revealed that marriage was to bring about a change in the way a child relates to his parents: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

 

Several important changes are signaled here, as I understand this passage. First, the son leaves the authority structure of his parents home to establish a new home, under his authority. This passage draws the son out from under his parents’ authority, as he had once been. It is my personal opinion that the teaching which modifies the “chain of authority” between parent and child to a so-called “chain of counsel” is not a sufficiently adequate separation from parental authority after marriage. Second, the son is to leave home so that his devotion and affection will be primarily focused upon his wife. Certainly the son’s affection toward his parents is not terminated, but leaving his home lessons the competition between a man’s father and mother and his wife for his devotion and attention. Finally, the instruction in this text suggests to us that the parent-child relationship is temporary, the husband-wife relationship is permanent.

 

(5) The way in which we honor our parents changes when we become a disciple of Christ. Some Christians seem to think that until or unless a child marries, the strong authoritative role of the parent remains in the older single life of the child. I think this fails to take seriously enough the teaching of our Lord on the change which occurs with a decision to follow Christ as His disciple. In the passages already cited (Matthew 10:32-40; Mark 10:28-31; Luke 14:26), the Lord clearly demanded that disciples choose to follow Him above all others, especially including family. Our Lord will not rival fathers or mothers for the affection and obedience of His disciples. One further passage underscores the change which discipleship has on family relationships: “And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). Thus, children must not only leave father and mother when they marry, they must also do so (while not necessarily literally) when they decide to be a disciple of Christ.

 

(6) Honoring God as our Father is not an excuse to dishonor our parents. Some, like the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13), had used religious “conviction” and practice as an excuse to avoid their obligation to honor their parents. For those who would wish to do so, the passages about putting God above fathers and mothers can be perverted and distorted to excuse irresponsibility, but let it be remembered that our Lord stripped away the veil of spirituality, showing this to be a most abominable sin.

 

(7) We honor our parents most when we obey and honor God in our lives. The highest goal of parents is to raise the child God has entrusted to them in such a way as to encourage and promote trust in God and obedience to His Word. Whenever a child trusts in God and obeys His Word, He honors his parents. Even an unbelieving parent is honored by a believing and obedient child.

 

(8) We honor God when we honor our parents. Not only do we honor our parents when we honor God, but we also honor God when we truly honor our parents. There are two primary reasons why this is true. First, we honor God because we are obeying His command to honor our parents. Honoring our parents, when it is act of obedience to God’s Word, is to honor God. Thus we see that the norm is that honoring parents accomplishes two things at the same time: honoring our parents and honoring God.

 

But what if a person has parents who are hardly worthy of honor? We know of many children whose parents seem to have done their best to ruin their lives. Children who have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused will have to deal with the effects of this for their entire life? How can such children honor their parents?

 

The answer to this question is found in the second way in which honoring parents honors God. When we honor our parents, we acknowledge that they have been ordained of God to be our parents and to receive our honor. Honoring parents who are not worthy of honor can only be done as one recognizes that God has appointed them to be parents, and thus they are honored for their God-given position of parent, not for their performance as a parent.

 

Let me illustrate this principle with another person who is to be honored by us—a king. We are told in the Scriptures that we are to honor kings (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:17). In the context of these commands to honor the king, he is to be honored by virtue of his position as king, not for his performance as king. In Romans chapter 13, Paul makes it clear that kings are to be honored and obeyed because they have been appointed by God. The fact that they hold their office is evidence of God’s appointment (Romans 13:1-2). Thus, honoring a cruel, ruthless, king is done, not because that person is worthy of honor, but because that person holds his position (a position of honor) by the sovereign will of God.

 

When a child honors an unworthy, unkind, parent and does so because he or she recognizes that God has appointed them to hold this position of authority and honor, they are submitting themselves to the sovereign hand of God. And because they know that God causes all things ultimately to work for good in the believer’s life, they realize that while the parent may do something for an evil purpose, God has allowed it to happen for a good purpose (cf. Genesis 50:20). Honoring an unworthy parent thus opens the door for one to see the good hand of God in giving a poor parent. It is often the weaknesses of the parent, in such a case, that brings about corresponding strengths in the child.

 

(9) Honoring parents does not always mean that the child does what his parents want. Father and Mother are not to be honored because they are perfect, but because they are parents. They, like their children, are plagued with the fallenness of mankind. They, like their children, sin. They will therefore make many mistakes in the parenting process. They will command that their children do the wrong things, at times. At times they will also forbid their children to do what is right.

 

A young child must assume his parents are right, because they have more experience and wisdom. If all else fails, they are bigger! As a child begins to mature, he may begin to question some decisions. This must be done very carefully. I can envision a child’s disobedience only when the Bible has spoken very directly to the matter at hand. For example, I would expect a child to refuse to cooperate in any form of sexual abuse by parents or other adults. At some point in time, a child will even find that the parent is sinning, and will find it necessary to rebuke them. In this case, Paul’s instruction to correct an older man as a father (1 Timothy 5:1) instructs us that parents (and older people) need to be rebuked with gentleness and respect.

 

Those whose parents have aged to the point of becoming confused, disoriented, or even “rebellious” find themselves in the awkward position of having to discipline their parents, much like their parents once disciplined them. The way one honors his parents surely does change.

 

(10) Honoring parents may someday require parenting parents. It is an irony indeed, but those who were once parented by fathers and mothers often find themselves parenting their parents in their final years of life. The parent that once fed and diapered the child may in the last days of their life be fed and diapered by their children. The new baby that did not recognize its parents may someday look upon his elderly mother or father and not even receive in return a look of recognition. The child who was once parented now becomes his parent’s parent, making decisions for them, sometimes having to make choices against their will, even deciding how long to allow artificial, life preserving devices to maintain some semblance of life. There is no thought less pleasant than this, but for many it has been, is, or will be a reality.

 

Some parents will become cross and unreasonable. They may make demands of us and of our family which are impossible to fulfill. They may, if allowed to do so, destroy our home life. They sometimes become incoherent or unmanageable. Physically, aging parents may not be able to care for themselves or to live alone. The decisions which we must make at such times are the most painful ones of our life.

 

When the time for decisions comes, it must be determined whether any clear Scriptural commands are involved, and, if so, how these must be implemented. The impact of various choices on the family as a whole must be taken into account. And, naturally, the best interest of the parent(s) must be carefully thought through. I believe at least three factors are involved in the determination of what course of action will be best for the parent.

 

First, we have an obligation to preserve life. This does not necessarily mean that we must artificially prolong the death process, but it does mean that the necessities of life are provided. Food (nutrition—it may come from an I.V.), oxygen, and life sustaining fluids must be provided. All too frequently, these necessities are being withheld, with the inevitable result—death. Withholding the necessities of life constitutes murder, in my understanding of Scripture.

 

Second, we must seek to provide as much physical and emotional comfort as necessary. The setting should be one that is as familiar and as pleasant as possible. This may, or may not, mean keeping the parent in our own home, or placing them in a facility where professional care is available.

 

Third, I believe that honoring parents requires that we maintain as much dignity for our parents as possible. The terms “honor” and “dignity” have a fair bit of overlap, and it would seem to me that we honor our parents by seeking to preserve as much dignity for them as possible. For example, I am aware of certain situations in which patients are not able to feed themselves and are “force fed” (by literally pushing the food down the throat). In such situations, I would opt, if at all possible, to have “I.V.” feeding as an alternative. The indignity of force feeding is great, and should be avoided, if possible. These three issues, life, comfort, and dignity, may lead some to care for an elderly parent at home, and others to provide care in a well-run institution.

 

(11) Honor cannot be earned, nor can it be demanded. Since honor is due on the basis of position, and not performance, we should realize that honor is not something which another person can demand of us. A king can demand that we obey him, but not that we honor him, at least in the fullest sense of the term. So, too, a parent cannot really demand honor of their child. In one’s older years there will be a temptation for the parent to prescribe for the child exactly what form their honor will take, but I believe that this is contrary to the nature of honor itself. Honor demanded is not honor at all.

 

(12) Since we must honor all men, this means that parents must honor their children. Much has been said and written about developing self-esteem in children. I think I would differ with some of this teaching, based upon the fact that much self-esteem is simply renamed pride, and the Book of Proverbs has more to say about the need for humility in a child than self-confidence (and certainly than self-love). We must, however, deal with our children in a way that not only manifests our own dignity (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4), but also reflects the dignity of the child as a creation of God, one for whom Christ died. Thus, we must honor our children, as we must honor all others.

 

(13) If we must honor all men, then we must prioritize those whom we must honor above others. We have already seen that we must honor God, kings, elders, parents, and so on. When we must honor all men, and cannot do so to all men equally, or at the same time, then choices must be made. For example, as husbands we must honor our wives, and we must honor our parents. I believe that if one or the other must have priority, it is the wife who should be honored above the parent. Making these priority decisions ahead of a time of crisis is best, for surely these priorities will be put to the test.

 

(14) Honoring parents is so important, and potentially so costly, it is something which we must plan to do in advance. Honoring parents will require much more than an occasional Hallmark card. If honoring parents involves caring for them in their old age, this is a costly matter, and one for which we must prepare ourselves in advance. A friend of mine suggested that this is something which we may need to provide for in our wills. Suppose, for example, that we were to die before our parents. This was the case with our Lord and His mother, and we have already seen how He made provision for her care. In addition to having our children in our wills, we may need to prepare for the possibility of us dying before our parents. This may mean that extra insurance is to be purchased to meet our parents’ needs in our absence.

 

In some cases, it may be necessary for Christians, or perhaps the broader Christian community, to provide facilities for the elderly, which not only meet their special physical needs, but which also provide them with an environment of beauty and a sense of dignity. We must avoid like the plague, pushing our parents off into a dingy, dismal dwelling where they simply wait to die.

 

This only scratches the surface, but I hope that it broadens our vision beyond that which Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will afford our parents in their older years. A commandment as forcefully put forward in both Old and New Testaments must not be lightly considered.

 

19 The following Scriptures are important to our understanding of honoring parents. I highly recommend that you study these passages carefully: Central Passages for Honoring Parents: Exodus 20:12 (Deut. 5:16); 21:15, 17; Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Leviticus 19:3; Ephesians 6:1-3; Proverbs 30:11-14; 31:1-9; 1 Timothy 5:1, 3, 8; Isaiah 29:13; Malachi 1:6. Related Passages on Honoring Parents: Genesis 2:24; Matthew 10:32-40; Leviticus 19:32; 20:9; 21:9; Mark 10:28-31; Numbers 22:17, 37; Luke 14:26; Deuteronomy 4:10-12; 6:4-7; 33:8-10; John 5:22-23; 8:48-50; 12:26; Joshua 2:12-13; Romans 1:30; 2:7, 10; 12:10; 13:7; Judges 13:17; 1 Corinthians 12:23-24; 1 Samuel 2:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; Proverbs 1:8; 3:9; 4:1-5; 19:26; 20:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 28:7, 24; 1 Timothy 1:17; 5:3, 17; 6:1; Ezekiel 20:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 5:4; 1 Peter 2:17; 3:7; 2 Peter 1:17; Jude 8; Revelation 4:9-11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 21:24-26.

 

20 In my study of “honor” in the Bible, I discovered the following people (which generally involve a position) are given honor: God, the Father—1 Timothy 1:17; Proverbs 3:9; Revelation 4:9-11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 19:1; 21:24, 26; God, the Son—John 5:22-23; Hebrews 2:7, 9; 2 Peter 1:17. Those in positions of authority over us: Kings—1 Peter 2:17; Higher authorities—Romans 13:7; Elders—1 Timothy 5:17; Masters (by slaves)—1 Timothy 6:1; Those not in a superior status to us—Husbands to honor wives—1 Peter 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; All men—1 Peter 2:17; One another—Romans 12:10; God will honor us—John 12:26; Romans 2:7, 10.

 

21 Since honor was required only with respect to those who had a higher status or position in the Old Testament, we may wonder why the change in the New Testament, requiring the Christian to honor all men. The reason why Christians are commanded to honor others who may even have an inferior status in life is due to the fact that the Christian is required to place others above himself:

 

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation (Romans 12:16).

 

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “For the reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me” (Romans 15:1-3).

 

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).

 

Thus, the Christian, unlike the worldling, honors all men, even when their earthly status is lower than our own, because the mind of Christ elevates others above self. For the Christian, then, all others have a status higher than our own interest. On this basis, they deserve to be honored.

 

22 The following is a summary of what is done to honor another in the Bible: By giving money or material things: Balaam—Numbers 22:17, 37; 24:11; Widows—1 Timothy 5:3; Elders—1 Timothy 5:17; Offerings to the Lord—Proverbs 3:9; Sacrifices (shared with the angel)—Judges 13:17; By our Lord giving glory to God—John 8:48-50; By beautifying and giving greater prominence—1 Corinthians 12:23-24; By giving respect, and obedience—Romans 13:7; Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-27; By giving God worship, Revelation 4:9-11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 19:1; 21:24, 26.

 

23 Commenting on Deuteronomy 21:17, Jordan writes, “There are two words for ‘curse’ in Hebrew. One has as its basic meaning ‘to separate from or banish,’ and is used for the curse in Genesis 3:14. The second, which is used in Exodus 21:17, basically means ‘to make light of, or repudiate.’ As Umberto Cassuto has pointed out, this verb ‘to make light of’ is the opposite of the verb which means ‘to make heavy, honor, or glorify.’ For the Hebrew, to glorify or honor someone was to treat them as weighty, just as American slang in the 1970s and 1980s uses the word ‘heavy’ to refer to important or impressive matters.” James B. Jordan, The Law of the Covenant (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), p. 105.

 

24 This public dimension of honor helps to explain a great deal. First, it explains why the worship (honoring) of God requires a public expression of praise and adoration. It also explains why a husband is commanded to honor his wife, but the wife is nowhere commanded to honor her husband (cf. 1 Peter 3:7). The woman is to reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:2, 5), because this is a matter of her (private) attitude. She cannot honor him publicly because her role is restricted with regard to public speaking, especially in the church (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:12). The husband, on the other hand, is to publicly honor his wife. He is able to honor his wife because of his more public role. He needs to honor his wife because of her more private role.

 

25 Jordan comments on Deuteronomy 21:18-21: “The fifth commandment orders sons and daughters to honor their parents, and the verb used is the verb ‘to make heavy, to glorify.’ Thus, to make light of, to despise, is the opposite. An example of this is clearly set out in Deuteronomy 21:18-21. …” Notice that it is an older child who is in view, not a little boy; he is old enough to be a drunkard. Second, notice the sin is a settled disposition to rebel, not a one time act of disobedience. Third, notice that the young man has given public witness to his rebellious heart; the parents can remind the judges that they all know he is a drunkard and a glutton. Note, fourth, that the parents do not have the power to deal with this rebel on their own; they have to bring evidence and testimony to the judges. This shows us how the Law was carried out, and what is involved in making light of one’s parents, ridiculing them, and repudiating them.

 

In 1 Timothy 5:3, 17, to ‘honor’ someone means to give them money, to care for them financially. In line with this understanding, Jesus applies the death penalty for dishonoring parents directly to those who refuse to care for them in their old age. The Law of the Covenant, pp. 105-106.

 

26 Similar promises are found in Deut. 4:26, 40; 5:16, 33; 6:2; 11:8, 9; 17:20; 22:7; 30:18; 32:47; Job 6:11; Prov. 28:16; Ecc. 8:12-13; Isa. 53:10.

 

27 Jordan remarks, “Notice that Jesus sets Exodus 21:17 right next to the fifth commandment in binding force. Notice also that ‘cursing’ father and mother is definitely said to include verbally reviling them. Principally, however, this passage shows us that in the practical legal sense, refusing to care for parents in their old age is a capital offense.” Ibid, p. 107.

 

28 It is interesting that our Lord modified (or perhaps we should better say clarified) Exodus 21:17, rendering the term “cursing” “speak evil of.” Thus, cursing is more than speaking profanities at or about parents. Furthermore, I am inclined to believe that our Lord used the “of” in “speak evil of” in broader terms than we would expect. Our Lord was applying these two texts to the evil practiced by the scribes and Pharisees. To be more exact, the evil spoken by them. The saying of the word “Corban” in a traditional formula forced (or allowed) the child of elderly parents to disregard and disobey God’s command to honor them by providing for them. The evil thus spoken was not something evil said of (or about) the parents, but something evil spoken with respect to the parents. The evil spoken was the statement, “Anything of mine you might have bveen helped by is Corban” (Mark 7:11). Our Lord has thus broadened considerably the application of the Fifth Commandment.

 

29 As I have thought about it, I am not at all certain that a young child is really capable of honoring his parents. He is capable of obeying them, but not really of grasping the concept of honor. This is precisely why parents are needed—to care for the child until he is mature enough to live independently from them. As a child grows up, the more he should begin to grasp what honoring parents is all about, and the more he should honor his parents.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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