In this third lesson on respect, let's take a look at respecting our parents. As I mentioned last week, the first 4 commandments in the 10 commandments dealt with our relationship with God. The next commandment was, "Honor your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God has given you." (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) But, as we've looked at before, this was the old law which was given to the Jews. What does the New Testament say about this?
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Paul just copied it right out of the Ten Commandments. This is the only commandment that was taught in the New Testament word for word as it was in the Old Testament scriptures. With most of the others, the principles were taught, but this one simply commands it, word for word. I find it interesting that, next in line, after God himself, the Israelites were commanded to honor father and mother. What is the significance of this? Why are our parents so important?
I believe it is because God established one man, one woman to be the foundation of the family. Genesis one and two tells us that God designed the first family. He made the man (soon-to-be husband and father) first, then the woman (wife and mother-to-be) and the children came later. The father is to be the leader and the mother to follow behind him, both leading the family where it should go. It is the family, then, that is the foundation of society. Think of each family unit as being a stone that builds the wall of society. If the stone crumbles, the wall will fall. When there is a disruption of the home, there will follow a disruption in society.
This connection between the family and the home is evidenced in the command itself. "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." (Exodus 20:12) The promise was for the kingdom/society to be able to remain in the land. The homes had a direct effect upon the society.
This crumbling of society is what has happened to our society in the last 100 years. Too many divorces and broken homes has caused a crumbling of our society. Parents are too focused on their own pain and rebuilding of their own lives to be able to teach their children properly. Their children then, stumble in the darkness, trying to find their way through to some sort of morality. "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23) While not impossible for one who has grown up in such a home to be a righteous person, it is difficult for one to rise above their circumstances.
What can we do as mothers to help?
1. We can do our part to make our families strong. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Ephesians 6:10-17)
2. Give honor to our husbands. "...and the wife see that she reverence her husband." (Ephesians 5:33b) Let your children see that you respect him. Don't complain to others about your husband, especially in front of your children. Brag about him and praise him publicly. Men can quickly lose confidence in themselves and respect for the wife who is nagging and hurtful to him (Proverbs 21:9; 25:24).
3. Be an example. How do you treat your parents and your in-laws? Your children will learn from your actions. Do you want your children to one day treat you that way? "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7) I think the sowing and reaping passage is better here. MT. would apply to how you treat the children, not your parents.
4. Teach the younger women. "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:3-5)
5. Pray for wisdom. James tells us, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)
If you are a single mom, there are still things you can do. In addition to the above (excluding number 2 maybe), you can avoid speaking of your ex-husband (if divorced) negatively. Your relationship with him and his family will teach volumes to your children. Be the example despite your circumstance. Also, be diligent to attend services and choose an older man - an elder possibly or even the child's own grandparent - who can be a positive influence on your children. Don't be afraid to ask this man to spend time with your children. They need to see godly examples of men in their lives.
Next week we'll look at more in the area of respect.