June 21, 2010

Elephants in Our Midst series: Part 5 Respecting Parents

This will be the last topic in our 'Elephants in Our Midst' series. Elephants are big destructive realities in our life that trundle about causing destruction while we pretend they don't exist or simply ignore them thinking they will leave us alone if we do.
The first week, we talked about the elephant of video games and entertainment. One of the greatest triumphs of Satan is to convincing us that the battle for our spirit has nothing to do with our minds or our past times. As long as we believe in Jesus, we can partake of whatever we want. We saw that this is a lie from Satan and that God doesn't accept our excuses for not loving Him fully with our whole heart and mind and strength as well as our soul.

Last week we looked at the elephant of ungodly relationships. While there is so much that we could have talked about, we ended up focusing primarily on what God desires of us in honoring the Image of God in each other. We talked about several things such as pride, cruelty and selfishness that compete for our God-honoring behavior toward each other. We saw that it doesn't matter if the relationship is a dating relationship or friendship or a married relationship. God's standard is a respect for others that acknowledges God's righteousness in everything whether it be physical, emotional, or mental.

Today we are going to talk about respecting parents. This is probably one of the most ignored elephants in church today. The command of God to "honor thy mother and father - period", has been turned into, "honor thy mother and father as long as they respect your privacy, independence, don't embarrass you, or ever do something you don't agree with. It's an especially hard lesson to learn today because the older people we call parents usually haven't seen the hypocrisy in their own lives when they demand unquestioning respect, but don't apply the same standard to their own parental relationships.

Add to that tv's depiction of children being miniature adults today with equal footing in their homes as parents, and the entertainment and clothing industries designing products that advocate the same level of maturity for children as for adults, we have a Cultural-faith crisis in our midst that looks a lot like a big bull elephant. The difference between this elephant and the first two is that people actually believe that this one is not really an elephant. People will admit that they shouldn't seek the entertainment they do or act with their friends the way they do, but their is almost no discernment today that identifies that cultures presentation of parent-child relationships is completely unbiblical. Modern pop-psychology has taken over authority from Scripture in this area. Let's take a look at the elephant of parental disrespect.

Look at Romans 12:9-11.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.


Last week we looked at vv. 10-11. Today we'll look at v. 10 alone. it says, "Be devoted to one another with brotherly love." But just like last week, it does go on to say, "Outdo one another in showing honor." 11 tells us that our motivation and our attitude is Godward, not manward or personal.

Two questions: Are you diligent in the difficult time of your teenage years when parents and children usually have disagreements? and, Are you Serving the Lord in your relationship to your parents?

Many people are aware that the commandment to honor your mother and father is the only commandment with a promise. But many of us have taken that word promise at some point in our lives and replaced it with the word clause. That means we dismiss the brevity of the command and say to ourselves, “Oh, it’s not that big a deal; life has changed.” We reject the importance that God put on this commandment and excuse our behavior to cultural evolution.
Why do we do this?
Usually for one of two reasons: Either to excuse unrighteous behavior that is already present in our lives or to allow for unrighteous behavior we think we are finally entitled to express. The difference is past offenses you already committed or future offenses you plan to or want to commit. The rationalization sounds like this: “I will honor my parents if they respect me or treat me the way they are supposed to.”
The difference between the promise and a clause is that the promise comes with a commandment that requires specified behavior of us regardless of whether or not we want the promised reward, and a clause requires specified behavior from us only if the other party does what they are supposed to. God’s version of the commandment ends with a promise to reward obedience and discipline disobedience, not a clause. God is not saying, “If you want long life, then do this; if not, don’t worry about it.”
How many Christians do you know that live out this commandment as if it was only a clause? I was one of them. I acted as if I only had to honor my parents if they respected my rights as a teenager, didn’t embarrass or hurt me, didn’t betray me, listened to me sincerely, admitted their wrongs, and stayed out of my business. If they did that, then I would honor them. If they didn’t, then I was free to criticize them publicly, privately, and indiscreetly. That was not the image I was created to bear.

I encourage you to think about this today. Examine your life and whether you have been living for God in this relationship , or if this is an area of life you need to attend to in order to give God the glory due Him as Lord? Tomorrow, we will finish our look at this last elephant by seeing what scripture has to say about "how" to make it right. God Bless.

With you for His glory