Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

Theme: How Do I Live in this Mess?

by Robert Harkrider

Most of us become upset at the stories we hear of child abuse. Front page stories in newspapers have literally shocked whole communities, and citizens have risen up in righteous indignation to form committees for the prevention of child abuse.

Another form of abuse within families often occurs which is no less despicable, yet this abuse often goes unnoticed by society. No committees are formed to prevent this, and newspapers would not print the story even on an inside page. However, the Lord has indelibly written His righteous indignation against such. We might describe it as “parent abuse.” Almost two thousand years ago Jesus rebuked some who were guilty of parent abuse, yet they thought of themselves as righteous. You see, this is not a new problem to society, but we have not learned from the mistakes of past generations. Even today so-called “respectable citizens” who may also supposedly be “good Christians” are worse than infidels and have denied the faith!
(1 Timothy 5:8).

Jesus called them hypocrites! They had found a religious loophole by which they justified themselves when they failed to honor their parents. They said it was “Corban,” i.e. they vowed a gift to God, but nothing was left to give to their parents. In their neglect of their father and mother, they had “rejected the commandment of God.” “For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother; and he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites . .  (Matthew 15:3-7).

He is no faithful Christian who selfishly pushes his parents out of his life; who leaves them solely to welfare and charitable organizations for financial assistance; and who forgets them in the hour which should be their crowning glory years! Solomon wrote, “Whoso  curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness” (Proverbs 20:20). God abhors such an attitude, and one day shall justly reward all who neglect their parents.

How Do We Honor Parents?

1. Show your appreciation! Financial support is not the only way to honor our loved ones. We witness this truth in raising children. A parent can buy every toy his child desires but still have no influence over the child. The best things in life are those things which money cannot buy. A child needs you! A parent needs you! How often do we hear, “no one appreciates me/’ Employees, wives, husbands, children—and even parents fare left with an empty, lonely feeling when no sign of appreciation is shown. A few kind words, thoughtful phone calls or letters, and various gifts of remembrances should help show that you care.

2, Give time to them! One of the saddest visits this writer makes is to an elderly person whose family has no time for them, They spend hours of loneliness, but their depression could be alleviated with the gift of time. Your father, through hours of labor, helped provide your needs, Your mother, through sleepless nights when you were sick, had time to help you through troublesome periods. Is it true that now you have become “too busy” with the mundane things of life to make a few small sacrifices for those who gave so much to help you become what you are?

3. Support your parents! The word “honor” inherently describes something of value, and we honor those whom we esteem highly. “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice; and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24-25). As stated earlier, financial support is not the only way to honor our loved ones, but the lack of it is certainly a way to “reject the commandment of God” (Mark 7:9-13). Children who turn their parents over to churches or to the government for the caring of their parents have a sad day facing them in judgment. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8; see also 1 Timothy 5:16).

4. Love them! Perhaps we have all heard the story of the father, who along with his young son, was driving his aged father to admit him into the nursing home. As he topped the hill the home came into view, and the father remarked what a nice place it was. The young lad asked, “ls that where l will be taking you some day?” The father was dumb-struck. He had never thought of himself in that role. He turned the car around at the next convenient place and took his father back home.

Nursing homes provide care which the average home cannot. This is not intended as a put-down for nursing homes nor should one necessarily feel guilty because their parent may be in a nursing home. However, if the motive for placing them in such a home is to get them out of your way, and to absolve yourself of the day-to-day responsibility of a loving, caring child, then you should feel guilty! “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17),

CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984