Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pleading the Fifth

I am heart-broken when I see our modern culture's view of parents. I thought this devotion would be worth a second look, so I pulled it from the archives.  What do you think?  Gail

We don't pay much attention to the 10 Commandments anymore, especially the Fifth. We might refer to it when training children but we rarely talk about its relevance to adults.  

“Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother; this is the first commandment with a promise: That all may be well with you…” (Ephesians 6:2,3, Amplified Bible)

There's nothing in the command that's age-specific. We never get old enough to ignore it.
And God emphasizes the Command  in some unique ways: 
  • It's on His "Top Ten" list.
  • It’s the only command with a specific promise attached. 
  • It’s one of two positive commands (i.e. it promotes a behavior instead of prohibiting one). 
  • It's one of the three most quoted Commandments in the New Testament.
The parental relationship is our first relationship in life and one of our longest. Only our siblings will know us longer. Just as children are especially vulnerable to their parents’ injustice, indifference or selfishness when they are young; parents are especially vulnerable to the injustice, indifference and selfishness of their adult children. God designed us that way, and He has high expectations for the relationship throughout our lives.

Unfortunately, our culture has turned things upside down: Adults are far more apt to criticize than honor parents. We judge their performance more strictly than we judge our performance as adult children, sometimes acting as if they must “earn the right” to be respected while feeling we deserve their love and respect no matter how we treat them. But God commands respect for parents whether they earn it or not. In Matthew 15:1-9 Christ says adults who ignore the Fifth Commandment have turned their hearts away from God! That's powerful.

For many years I underestimated the Fifth Commandment. I got along fine with my parents, but I didn’t really understand what it meant to honor them. And I was even less faithful in my relationship with my in-laws. Only as I changed my attitudes did I realize the well-being I'd been missing (God's promise).

I studied the Hebrew word used for honor in the Fifth Commandment and found it is the same word used for honoring God.   Here's a summary of what God taught me:
  • It matters how I speak to my parents--they aren't my peers.  I owe them more consideration and respect than my friends.
  • It matters how I listen to my parents.  Their opinions should be more important than friends' opinions. I don't need to agree or obey, but I need to listen respectfully and respond respectfully.  
  • My attitude matters more than my actions. A critical, ungrateful, indifferent, self-righteous or disrespectful attitude will come across even if I'm fulfilling my "duties."
  • I need to deliberately develop and maintain the relationship, taking an adult responsibility to call, write, visit, remember special days, and prioritize time with my parents. When I was young, they were the initiators. Now it's my turn.
  • Honor means finding out what matters to them and doing my best to please them unless their desires are unreasonable. (And I should beware of what I call "unreasonable" unless I am equally judging my own desires.)
  • I need to do my very best to work through problems, disagreements, or conflicts with my parentsOne of the highest forms of disrespect is deciding my parents are not worth the time or effort to explain my feelings and listen carefully and prayerfully to theirs. My desire to honor God and His commands is best reflected in the hard times, not the easy ones.
The Fifth Commandment is an awesome responsibility which involves self-sacrifice, but God is eager to help us fulfill it and has promised to bless us if we obey. It's really up to us whether we want our parents to be a blessing or a liability in our lives.
Hi! I'm Gail. My husband Michael and I have 2 grown children and 7 grandchildren. I used to edit and maintain the WOW blog until my duties with 1-Minute Bible Love Notes became too time-consuming.  1-Minute Bible Love Notes has over 8000 subscribers, over 19,000 Facebook followers, and over 10,000 Pinterest followers. I'd love to have you check it out.

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