[Column] Honor Your Parents

There was an artist whose dream was to paint the most beautiful picture. Thus, he went around asking people what was the most beautiful thing in the world. A pastor said it was faith; a beautiful woman said it was love; a young soldier said it was peace. Puzzled by these answers, he left for home thinking “Is there anything that captures all those three virtues? Faith, love, and peace.” As he rang the door bell, his children came running towards him and joyfully greeted him saying, “Daddy.” As he held them in his arms and looked into their eyes, he could see trust. Soon, his wife came out, kissed him, and said, “Honey, you’re home.” He saw her eyes shining with love. He then entered his house with wife and children and suddenly felt the profound presence of peace. What he has been looking for all those years was family. While there are many organizations and institutions, only church and family have been created by God.

There are parents in every family. Respect for parents is a biblical teaching. Perhaps, there is no other religion that places emphasis on filial piety. The Ten Commandments are largely divided into two categories. The First through the Fourth Commandments deal with our relationship with God whereas the Fifth and the rest deal with rules concerning interpersonal relationship. The First Commandment in the second category is “Honor your parents.” The Bible considers as evil those who refuse to care for parents. Timothy 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Whether or not one believes in Christ, neglecting his or her parents or grandparents constitutes a violation of human decency. Deuteronomy 27:16 “Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother. Then all the people shall say, Amen!” Proverbs 30:17 “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Honoring parents means to acknowledge their existence and presence and to be grateful and respectful to them. It was through parental love and care that we have survived to this day. When we were young, parents had almost absolute power and authority over us. Yet, as we grow older we render unto them less and less parental authority. Why? Because the glory of God evident in our parents is not absolute, but relative to us. As the glory of God in Moses’s face faded, so does the glory of God present in our parents.

If we encounter God the Father, He fills the areas of our lives that have not been filled by our physical parents. Our encounter with Him grants us divine grace to be humble and grateful so that we may have compassion on our parents and respect them. Our parents have worked hard to provide for us. Now, it is time for us to acknowledge their dedication to us. Proverbs 23:22 “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Even in excruciating pain, our Lord looked upon His Mother while hanging on the Cross and assigned to Apostle John care for her. There is a Japanese proverb that says “it is only when your parents pass away that you realize how much you owed your parents.” A Chinese proverb also declares “Among the various forms of virtuous conduct, filial piety comes first.” We must obey our parents as said in Colossians 3:20.

Children tend to pattern their lives after those of parents. They will respect us as much as we respect our parents. There was an elderly lady with poor health and bad hearing. Following the death of her husband, she moved in with her son’s family. Because she was prone to spill water and drop food, she ruined the dinner table and clothes one day. After some discussion, the son and his wife have decided to build a small table for her in farthest the corer of the kitchen and let her eat there. Tears welled up in her eyes every time she ate there. Then, one evening right before dinner she saw her granddaughter building a table with blocks. When asked what she was doing, the little girl said with smile on her face, “I’m making a table for my mommy and daddy. When I grow up, they will have to eat here too.” Having heard this, the son and his wife burst into tears and brought his old mother back to the family dinner table. The family once again started eating at the same table and expressed neither displeasure nor disapproval when the mother spilled water or dropped food. Chinese statesman Lu Shang said, “If a person respects his parents, his children also respect him. How can his children respect him if he has failed to respect his parents?” How true this is. Parents set examples for children.

From a human perspective, Naomi’s family could not have been happy. Both Naomi and his daughter in law Ruth were widows. They shed many tears and suffered numerous emotional scars. Yet, they were a happy family. There were love and care between a daughter in law and a mother in law. Naomi prioritized Ruth’s needs over her own and Ruth loved Naomi like her own mother. Having been taught in faith by her mother in law, Ruth grew in her love for God and overcame all trials while caring for her mother in law. Eventually, Ruth married Naomi’s relative Boaz and had a child who became King David’s grandfather. Although Ruth was a gentile woman, she received the honor of becoming the ancestor of our Lord because of her faith and filial piety.

If you respect and care for your parents, you will live many years and receive blessing in heaven. There may be some of you here whose parents have already passed away. Respect, honor, care for the elderly around you and at church. We are one family in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us serve the elderly as we serve our own parents.

Reference: There was the world’s wealthiest man and also a generous philanthropist. At 33 he became a millionaire and at 53 he was the world’s wealthiest man earning over 1 million dollars a week. He is Rockefeller. Equally famous is his mother Eliza Rockefeller who raised him in a religious environment. It is said that she taught her son John. D. Rockefeller the following ten rules: (1) Serve God more than you serve your own father. A physical father may provide for your basic needs but God is your greater provider. (2) Respect your pastor next to God for hearing and keeping the Word of God in a sound relationship with the pastor is the path to success. (3) Attend Sunday service at your home church. As a child of God, you must be faithful to church and worship Him at your home parish. (4) Always sit at the front of church. You must prioritize worshipping God and hearing the Word. (5) Let your right pocket be the tithing pocket. Tithe belongs to God and it must be set aside. (6) Let no one be your enemy. Animosity serves as an obstacle to your work. (7) Set your daily goal in the morning and pray. It is necessary to commit to God everything you do and pray for His guidance at the beginning of the day. (8) Before retreating to bed, examine yourself and pray in repentance. Pray for God’s forgiveness for sins committed knowingly and unknowingly to avoid guilt and pain. (9) Read the Word of God in the morning to hear His voice. (10) Help others as much as you can without blowing your trumpet.

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