Ten Covenant Words (Commandments) Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
The Next Commandment: Honor Father and Mother
Proverbs 1:23 Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.
Exodus 20: 12 Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
In the wilderness God laid the foundation for the children of Israel, and in the covenant that included the foundation of the family. What was God telling them in this verse? What did God want for the family?
First, in establishing a standard for the family God wanted the covenant to include the overall focus for the family unit. That meant God is at the center of the family and the family is to rely on Him. God knew if the family relied on Him when they were making decisions, they would look for God’s wisdom and they would wait for God’s leading. God’s intent was that families would keep Him at the center of every decision whether large or small.
There are people who believe they only need to rely on God when they make large decisions and they shouldn’t bother God with small decisions. The problem with that theology and line of thinking is that if we don’t rely on God for everything we are making decisions based on our own knowledge and timeline. Everything God does is within a perfect timeframe. It’s not always the decision, but the timing of the decision.
In addition to that, by relying on God when we make small decisions we begin to understand how to hear God and wait for his timing. Now most people really hate waiting for God’s timing. I agree it’s totally not fun. There have been times in my life when I really wanted a map and I wanted to know what the plan was! I did not want to WAIT for God’s timing. The problem is, God has the total picture in mind and waiting for his timing not only helps us learn to listen for the movement of God, it knows what tomorrow will bring. We do not know the whole picture. God does!
God also knew that the family needed to revere His name. They needed to understand that God is holy (set apart) and they needed to understand what that means. Why? Because God sets the family apart. God didn’t have to give families parents, children and grandchildren, but He did. God set families apart as a unit so they ‘act’ as a unit. God wanted families to act as a support system for each other. The family is important to God and establishing a strong structure for the family was crucial to God’s plan.
That structure included having children understand that their parents were equipped to make decisions. God knew that children need time to develop and parents can help them develop in stages. There is a reason children start as babies who do not talk or walk and they progress slowly to adulthood. Remember, God didn’t have to structure growth patterns in that manner but he did. It was for a reason.
God knew children need to realize their parents possess wisdom they do not understand. Notice God didn’t separate honoring parents by age. God didn’t say “take care of the elderly”. He made a covenant with His people that included helping them understand that their parents were to be honored regardless of their age or ability to perform. God understood wisdom and decision-making.
In recent years scientists have discovered the brain formulates specific pathways at different stages of life. Studies currently show the brain doesn’t fully form until the age of 25. That means children need to rely on their parents’ ability to help them make decisions.
Previously it was thought that as we age past 40 and 50 brain cells die and we begin the process of diminished capacity. Scientists have discovered that while pathways within a 50 year old brain do close they have also discovered that other pathways strengthen and grow. Many have concluded that the pathways that close off are roads that are not needed or used. By allowing those to close, the brain can focus on areas of strength. In other words, the brain is playing to it’s strengths and not it’s weaknesses. Smart move…
None of that is a surprise to God. He knew that age builds wisdom and even as parents grow older they should be heard and honored for their wisdom. God knew by honoring parents and grandparents, the family would be stronger.
God also knew that faith builds with age. Faith as a child is instant and innocent. As we grow we remember God’s faithfulness and we hold onto that hope. Parents of young children grow in faith as they see their ill children grow healthier. By the time parents become grandparents they talk about years of God’s faithful deeds. Sharing the knowledge of God’s faithfulness strengthens the family.
But with age and wisdom comes responsibility. Parents have to listen to God and give wise counsel to their children.
God’s desire is that we teach our children about His love. Parents (and grandparents) teach and children honor that their teaching.
God has blessed me with children are men and women of faith, integrity, and truth. The one consistent thing I did while they (we) were growing up is that I prayed A LOT for my sometimes poor parenting skills. I prayed that even when I messed up, God would ‘fix’ it. We also laughed a lot while they were growing up (mostly because I do a lot of silly things) and they have continued in that vein of ‘not taking themselves too seriously’. They are all fun-loving, are very funny, and are men and women of faith. Through the pandemic, we have stayed in tough by doing a group text that is hilarious. Those silly texts often keep me smiling and laughing all day. They honor me with their humor.
They also honor me with their diversity. They are all uniquely who God created them to be and they ‘own’ their own calling. Three of them are committed to exhibiting their faith in the marketplace. Two are military officers who exhibit their faith as they serve our country. Two of them are committed to helping others stabilize financially. Two of them are committed to loving others in their circle of influence. Two of them are committed to supporting those less fortunate. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. They are all different and are uniquely who God created them to be.
They honor me by asking for wise spiritual council. They realize I’ve been through a few things they haven’t yet experienced and they rely on my experiences to help their faith grow. It really is an honor when they come to me and ask me to pray or help them work through a difficult faith issue. I am honored when they ask me to pray for them.
I am thankful for all of my children (that includes my biological babies and the incredible people they married). I am truly thankful for my grandchildren.
So, what happens when things don’t go as God planned? Listening to God’s heart is at the core of everything. I’ve known children who chose to have a faith story that honored God even when their parents did not. If a parent is not listening and a child IS, then go with GOD! What will honor God and the parents who are not listening is for the children to listen and do what honors God. In almost every case, the parents turned to God later in life. The children who were faithful and prayed for their parents for years had their prayers answered!
Also, I’ve known people who remained single and married people who did not have children. Many of those people were in churches we pastored through the years. Because we never lived near our own extended families, those people stepped in and became wonderful surrogate parents to me and grandparents to my children. They adopted me and my children! In every place we lived, people who didn’t have children and grandchildren blessed my family in more ways than I can count. If you do not have children or grandchildren, or you do not live near your family, ask God to sent you children you can love. Your love will change their lives!
Today, I am thankful for your faith story and your family.
I am thankful for parents who do what honors God.
I am thankful for parents who revere God.
I am really thankful for children who do what honors God by praying for their parents!
Mostly, I am thankful for how God created families!
Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: BE thankful for your parents and your family.
Intentionally, tell God you are thankful for your parents, your children, and grandchildren (if that applies). Thank God for families.
And Be Blessed, Deb