The key to having a good relationship with others people (parents), is to have your foundation built on God. God is about to transition the commandments from a vertical (God) focus to a horizontal (man) focus. The relationship that God focuses on is the parent-child relationship. This foundation relationship affects most if not all your other relationships.
The Fifth Commandment: “Honor your parents.” (Exodus 20:12). In other words we are to respect them with out words and ways. We are to we honor them with our attitudes and actions. We are to behave in a way that would reflect on our love for God.
To understand this command we have to know what honor means. Honor means to take them seriously even though they are not perfect. To hold them up as the God-given authorities in your life.
To be honest, I had a difficult time honoring my parents as a child. I didn’t get too many golden stars or badges of honor for the way I acted or talked with them. I have since sought to reconcile this by putting on the 5 Badges for Honoring your Parents: (*****)
1. Love. Love is more than words, “I love you.” Love is active, I love you there for I will show you. Love is motivated to do something lovely. Imagine if Jesus saw our condition and just said, “I love you,” but didn’t do anything about it. Rather His love for you motivated Him to act as a Savior for your sins. Your relationship with your parents is just the same, you need to be actively loving. You cannot wait for them to take the first step, you are to initiate it (love is not conditional: I do love if you love me first).
2. Forgiveness. This is a tough one. Everyone has different issues at home, and even though I don’t know what you go through at home or what your parents are like (abused, abandoned, alcohol, anger, etc). The odds are against you to be a forgiver if your parents are not good or godly.
Truthfully, those who have godly parents have an easier time keeping this 5th Command. I didn’t have perfect godly Christians parents and I know how hard it is to honor parents when words fly, tempers flair, and the circumstances seem unreasonable or abnormal. Yet Jesus knows what we are going through. He has been there. His closest friends bailed on Him when He needed them the most. People beat Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, cursed Him, abused and tortured Him. Since He has been there too you can take your problems and pains to Him (God knows your parents and your situation very well, and they will get their just punishment; Lk.17:1-2).
If you harbor unforgiveness towards your parents you are giving a foothold to the devil (Eph.4:27). He is a little a skilled rock-climber. You give him one toehold, he’s hanging on and you cant shake him off. Does Satan own real-estate in your life because of unforgiveness you have towards your parents? If yes, then it’s time to apologize to your parents and not expect anything in return. Forgiveness releases the bonds of bitterness and frees you to love your parents.
3. Unity. God has a chain of command in our lives. Respect your authorities and live in peace with them. God put imperfect parents (employers, pastors, coaches, teachers) into your life for His purpose, to help you grow into the image of God. Unity begins with your heart (love and forgiveness). Unity doesn’t mean you allow authorities to walk all over you, but that you honor them as your authority.
There is a lack of respect for authority in our culture today. Negative dinner table talks about bad bosses, parents and political leaders teaches a child that it is okay to ‘dis’ authority. Help your parents to honor authorities in their lives too.
4. Value. You were born dependent upon your parents. You needed them to grow. They feed you, clothed you, changed all your dirty-stinky diapers, cleaned your messed and more. As we grow we become more independent. Yet as your parents grow them become more dependent upon you to care for them. We are to value them at every stage of our lives and theirs. To honor them is to value their place in their lives. Be careful of speaking negatively about them to others, joking about them or rejecting them. Value their insights on live and their experiences of ‘been there and done that.’
5. Encourage. Show and share with your parents you love, admiration and appreciation. Even though they may not be perfect or polluted with sin God has placed them in your life. Encourage them to love and follow after God. Appreciate them all the days of your life.
A day might come when you will get that dreaded call, “It’s your dad, he…” or “I’m sorry but your mom…” In this moment you have a choice: to hang your head in shame because you didn’t honor your parents or hold your head high with joy because you honored them.
Honoring your imperfect parents is just as honorable as honoring your perfect God. Wear your badges proudly to love, forgive, unify, value and appreciate your parents. These are the rock-solid foundations for godly relationships.