3 Things to Know About Honoring Dishonorable Parents
According to Ephesians 6:2, the fifth commandment that God gave to Moses was the first commandment with a promise attached to it. Exodus 10:12; “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” But what if you have dishonorable parents? How do you honor them? We’ll examine the issue in three parts.
I. First, what does it mean to honor your parents? Honor means to respect and to assign high value or worth to someone. It does not mean that you will always like them or agree with them. From birth until death we are all individuals with our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Conflict is inevitable. Honor doesn’t require us to become carbon copies of our parents but we are required to respect and honor them despite our differences.
This commandment takes effect from the time we are born until we die. We are to honor our parents even if they are no longer living.
II. Secondly, let’s look at some practical ways to honor our parents.
a. Submission to their authority even if you know more than they do. Luke 2:41-51 tells how Jesus as a twelve year old boy submitted to his parent’s authority even when they didn’t know and understand everything that he did.
b. Obey their instructions unless it violates God’s word. Colossians 3:20 instructs us to obey our parents in all things for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
c. Never verbally or physically assault them. Old Testament law required the death of anyone who violated this. God took it very seriously then and He still does today.
d. Share in everyday responsibilities. Isn’t it amazing how quickly kids learn to use smart phones and drive a car but can never seem to learn to use a vacuum cleaner or lawnmower! Deuteronomy 21:18-21 provided for the stoning of lazy and rebellious children! Wow!
e. Don’t blame them for all your problems! Take responsibility for yourself. If you had poor examples as parents, learn from their mistakes and move on.
f. Listen to their sound advice. Proverbs 1:5-7 declares the wise listen to sound advice but fools despise it. Isn’t it funny how the older we get the more we realize how wise our parents really were.
g. Always look out for their best interests. In Joshua 2:12-13 Rahab negotiated a deal that would spare not only her life but the life of her parents as well. She wasn’t content until her parents had been protected.
h. Assist them financially if it is needed and if it is desired and you are able to do so. 1 Timothy 5:3-4 tells us that it is the children’s responsibility to provide care for their aging parents and that this is pleasing to God.
i. When you become an adult, leave home! This means physically and financially. They have done their job and made their sacrifices. Their happiness is to see their children grown, productive members of society and living on their own.
j. Remember them often and celebrate special occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other times just to say hello. One quick simple word means a lot.
k. Communicate. Talk to them, not about them. Whether in person, by phone, text or social media, stay in touch.
l. Pray for them. They have many if not more struggles and challenges than you do.
m. Forgive them. None of us are perfect. If you are a parent, you know the heavy burden of raising a child and the feelings of failure. Whether intentional or not, forgive them for their shortcomings.
III. Third, responding when a parent makes it difficult or impossible to honor them.
a. Psalm 27:10 says when (not if) my father and mother forsake me (hurt me, disappoint me, abuse me, neglect me, abandon me) the Lord will care for me.
b. Psalm 68:5 says God places the lonely individual into a family. It may be a natural family, adopted family, extended family or His church family. God desires to be everything your parents were not or are not.
c. Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone (including your parents).
d. In extremely difficult situations the best way to honor your parents may be to simply keep your distance and avoid the drama. Never stop praying for them and looking for ways to bless them. Even if the person makes it difficult to honor them as an individual, always honor their position as a parent and in doing so you’ll honor God as well.