As children of God and Followers of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, we are expected to conduct ourselves in a certain way. We've discussed that over the last several days. Our relationship with God should also be reflected in our relationships with people. If we say we love God but that love doesn't manifest in our earthly relationships, then we are kidding ourselves. John put it like this in 1 John 4:19-21
“We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
He calls us liars! He says we can’t love God if we can’t love our brothers. In fact loving our brothers is how we prove our love for God. Loving others is the command that Jesus gave us that encompasses all the law of the new covenant. In John 13:3-35 Jesus said,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We can see the importance of our earthly relationships to Jesus. It is clear that they have meaning. In Ephesians chapter 5 Paul taught that the marriage relationship was a mirror of our relationship with Christ. Now He talks about a couple of other types of relationships. He begins chapter 6 of his letter talking about the parent-child relationship. Verses 1-4 read,
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Since other relationships and earthly things echo heavenly things, I believe this relationship teaches us about our relationship with the Father. The difference being that our human fathers and mothers are not perfect. God’s love is complete perfect and flawless. Our dads are only human. We cannot expect our mortal dads to be our Abba Father. But we still strive to live this relationship the way God meant for us to.
The first thing Paul says is, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” Obedience to one’s parents is not always easy. When we are young we are still learning and we have to obey blindly. Daddy says a stern “No” when we reach for the interesting electrical outlet and if we ignore him and try to touch it anyway, we get a quick punishment. We have no idea why we are not allowed to touch the outlet. We don’t know why Mommy won’t let us touch the pretty candle and its flickering flame but she won’t. But one day we learn one of the reasons behind the bizarre rules. One day when Mommy doesn't notice we reach up to the high shelf for that beautiful thing she is always saying “do not touch.” And as we get our excited and curious little fingers on it, it falls off the shelf, and hits us on the head before falling to the floor and breaking. Mommy doesn't have to say “no” this time. Our head hurts, our foot is bleeding where we stepped on a piece of the broken figurine. The consequences told us the what we didn't know before. We should have listened and trusted.
As we grow up, obeying remains difficult because now although we often understand the reasons behind the rules. We want to break out from the rules and discover ourselves. Too often as adolescents we think our parents do not understand us. But the truth is our parents know us better than we know ourselves. They understand because they were once our age. They no longer have the raging hormones wreaking havoc on their minds or emotions, but even if they don’t remember how difficult it was, they know it is happening. Now they teach us by giving us the rules and letting the consequences of breaking or keeping them teach us. They try to talk to us and guide us through this very difficult time and sometimes we let them in and sometimes we don’t.
When we are finally mature we can look back and see our parent’s wisdom and love in their methods. We can establish a new deeper relationship with them as adults.
Can you see your relationship and path with God exhibited in the relationship with your parents? Learning to trust your parents taught you to easier trust your Heavenly Father. He teaches us and guides us to help us to mature in Him and become like Him. How many times have you surprised yourself to see your mother or father displayed in your actions and dealings? I've spoken and realized the words I spoke were my father’s words. I've looked in the mirror and seen my mother’s face.
God knows best. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows you better than your parents know you. He made you. He brought you into this world. He made you. Psalm 139:13-14 reads,
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.”
He has known you and chosen you from the moment He created you. Psalm 71:5-6 reads,
“For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you.”
Paul next tells us to Honor our mother and father. He also says, this command comes with a promise. If you honor your parents “it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” It doesn’t say you will live a long life. It says you may live long in the land. You will know God sooner and you will live in the Kingdom of God longer than a person who rebelled, refused to honor his earthly parents and had to come to the promise of grace and rest from further away. Lost is lost. It doesn’t matter if you are ½ mile off course or 100 miles off course, you are still lost. But the person who is not as far away from the target he is seeking will probably find it sooner than the person out in the wilderness searching.
If you honor your parents, you are that much closer to understanding how to honor God. Do you honor your parents? Do you say, “But my parents are not worth honoring?” God still wants you to honor them. Find it in you to see this, God chose them to be your parents. He picked them. They had exactly the right qualities to create exactly the right you. He chose them because the life they gave you shaped your personality just as much as the DNA they gave you. God honored them by electing them to give you life. And they did. You may not like the life they provided, but God chose them. He was with you through every step of your life from conception to now. Psalm 22:9-11 reads,
“Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.”
Whether you had a good childhood or not, God has asked you to honor your parents. It is the 5th commandment of “the big 10.” The first after the commandments that direct how we are to interact with God. The first of the commandments that tell us how to interact with the world. It comes before telling us not to murder, lie, steal, commit adultery, or covet. That is a big deal.
So how do we honor our parents? What does that mean? To honor means to value, respect, or esteem. It means to understand and acknowledge their worth. We honor God by obeying Him. We honor God by loving Him and praising His name. We honor Him by living and walking in the manner He has asked us to, a manner that reflects or imitates who He is. We honor our parents then by recognizing the value they have to God and to us. Remember they gave us life. Obey them. Make them proud by living a good life. We honor our parents by loving them. God loves them. God chose them for you. You honor God, by honoring your parents.