Judging with Righteous Judgment Pt. 4 – Honor Parents

The admonition to honor father and mother is one of the toughest to apply in these “progressive” times. Parents are not always right. In fact many of them are consistently very, very wrong. Too many are listening to liberal philosophies of men and ignoring what God says for living and raising kids. We (especially older “we’s”) can point fingers at the younger generation’s growing refusal to honor their elders, but not without the proverbial three fingers pointing back at us. The parents are the ones that produced the younger generation. If they have shortcomings it’s obvious that we are the ones who made them that way. We don’t follow God’s ways ourselves, but then wonder why our children turn out to be so lawless.

 

That doesn’t let the youngsters off the hook, though. Sooner or later they grow up, and make their own choices. Frequently they take the hard work and sacrifice of parents and squander it on selfish decisions (like the prodigal son). There are other role models than parents they can look to, and many biblical helps available if they used their “free will” to choose them. God tells us that in the last days the love of many will wax cold (that means get colder and colder for you modern graduates of the public school system).

 

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12, AV)

 

“Iniquity” is none other than lawlessness. Living without the Law. The church leads the way in this department with many many excuses for why they don’t follow parts or the whole of the Law. So not only do parents share the blame for the fecklessness of the younger generation, but churches are bearing a chunk of the blame too.

 

The primary meaning of “honor” is to take care of your parents when they need it. This includes financial help, or help with living arrangements, or legal assistance.

 

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:10–13, ESV)

 

It also means to respect your elders for the good things they do and forgive them for the bad things. Parents can make it tough to be honored. Sometimes they refuse help. Other times they just aren’t deserving of help. Honoring parents does not mean you agree with everything they do or say. Sometimes too, we cannot honor our fathers and mothers because they are far from the faith. In that case perhaps the best you can do is to just be ready to honor them, avoid bad attitudes, and forgive.

 

I try to honor my adoptive mother (father’s gone now) but she really makes it tough. She has wandered from the faith and has hard feelings towards me. She sort of booted me out of her life a year ago and “adopted” another son (a son of a friend) to take care of her end of life issues. I still honor her in prayer and attitude though, and if I get a chance I will honor her as she needs in other ways too.

 

I can’t properly communicate how pleased I am that my kids honor their parents. Mostly. 🙂 They have financially helped us quite a bit in these tough economic times. My daughter and son-in-law in particular give their tithe to us. This will redound to their heavenly bank account in multiples. I’m not taking any of that away from them with public praise because they are not doing it for that reason. They are doing it because they are honoring God and honoring their parents. But it doesn’t hurt to give them some praise anyway because they’ll be picking our nursing home too!

 

Righteous judgment begins in the individual with self-analysis and application. Honoring parents is a part of it. Not as a take-it-or-leave-it suggestion, but as bedrock for any other blessings God wants to give us.

 

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:2–3, ESV)

Forgiveness

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6–7, ESV)

 

God forgives sin, and expects us to do the same. “Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:2). Colossians 2:13-14 says that God has forgiven all our trespasses in Christ, cancelling the record of debt that stood against us. For those who enter into the new covenant, God will be merciful toward our iniquities, and will remember sins no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

 

Sin is lawlessness or iniquity (1 John 3:4). It creates a debt against us. It’s like causing damage to someone as in an auto accident or having your bull gore someone else’s (Exodus 21:28-36). It’s not hurting someone’s feelings, though hurt feelings might be a part. It’s not violating what someone else thinks is right or wrong. Sin goes against the life and love of God. We always incur a debt to God for sin, and we owe people we sin against too. Sometimes the sin is private or internal, meaning no other people were harmed (sin always hurts), but we still owe a debt to God. Forgiveness comes when we confess that we’ve sinned and repent or change direction away from the sin and towards righteous behavior God expects from us.

 

We see some examples of forgiveness in the monetary sense in the laws of the Sabbath year (Deuteronomy 15 “you shall grant a release…every creditor to his neighbor”), collateral (Deuteronomy 24:10) and the above mentioned ox. These laws help illustrate for us the concepts of forgiveness and restitution.

 

My take on forgiveness then is to dismiss the debt. When someone has sinned against me, I forgive when I relinquish my claim to payment. In other words, forgiveness means I am not owed anything. When I think of the debt again, I have to remember that the person doesn’t owe me anything. I can only dismiss the debt against me, however. I cannot dismiss the debt that others might have with each other, nor can I dismiss any debt for others that is owed to God. Only Jesus can do that, and only on the basis of believing in Him. Believing doesn’t mean just to acknowledge His existence. It means to abide in His Word, trusting and obeying in all things, especially in forgiveness.

 

Sometimes I forgive a person, but I still don’t want anything to do with them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean I have to hang around them. There are stories that make the rounds in different forms about rattlesnakes or scorpions getting carried out of danger, and they always end up biting or stinging the person who helped them. The moral of those stories is, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.” So just because I forgive someone, doesn’t mean I don’t know what they are. I might forgive the poisonous snake, but I don’t hang around waiting for them to strike. I know what they are, and don’t even stay in their neighborhood.