The order of life over time shows that children who honor their parents will do better in life than those who defy their parents.
We're glad you've joined us on the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and as our series A Refresher on Family winds down, Don will be concluding a message titled, The Biblical Role of Children. Last time, Don dug into the admonition from Ephesians 6 that children are to obey their parents in the Lord. That of course is a corollary to the Fifth Commandment, to honor your father and mother. But that commandment also contains a positive promise of blessing that follows from obeying it. As Don continues teaching God's people God's Word, we'll look more deeply at that today, and we'll also hear about how honoring parents should play out in adult life. So have your Bible handy as we join Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself submitted to His parents. He did not deem it unworthy of His exalted position as the Son of God, to obey His parents, to comply with their wishes, to honor them, to care for them.
We saw that all last time. Do you mean to tell me that somehow you're better than, separate apart from Jesus in your attitudes? That doesn't make any sense at all, does it? You just realize that that's just inexcusable. And maybe the conviction of this is so much and so powerful that you just need to say, you know what, I must not be a Christian. I need to repent and receive Christ for salvation, rather than saying I'm a Christian and I excuse and exonerate myself from all of the bad patterns of my own life and heart. You know, maybe your parents haven't done everything right, but you know what, you need to own, before you worry about anybody else's sin, you need to own your own. You need to own your own sin and repent of your own sin. And it's amazing how repentance and forgiveness and the influence of the Holy Spirit in your life can change you without your parents changing at all.
You need to realize that maybe it's your own attitudes that's a real problem here and stop blaming your parents for your own disobedience to God. Let's just be real. Now point number three here, we said that obedience is right, obedience is required. Finally obedience is rewarded.
I started to allude to this already, but we'll separate it out as a third point here. God requires obedience, He commands it. Obedience is right, you can see that by just looking at the natural order of things. Finally we see here Paul motivating children toward obedience with a promise. He says obedience is rewarded. God honors those who obey and honor their parents with His blessing. Look at verse three. He says, so that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.
Now in those original contexts that we looked at from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, God was making a promise of long life to Israel in the land that He had given to them or was about to give to them. Here Paul takes that and expands it out and shows that the general principle extends even to Gentiles. And what he's saying is that the order of things and the way that God operates in His providence is so that those who honor their parents find themselves in a life that has blessing attached to it. That things go well for them, that there is an order of prosperity and harmony that permeates life as you go forward and that that God gives is a reward to honoring your parents.
Why would that be? Well first of all, let's note this, Paul here is making a general statement. It's in a sense, it's like a proverb in that this is the general usual order of things which is different from saying it will absolutely be true in each and every person without exception. You know, there are good, faithful Christian young people who die early, disease, accidents. There are good, faithful Christians who experience poverty in life.
Look at our brothers and sisters in the third world countries and we wouldn't quickly misunderstand that. Paul's making a general statement here, not an absolute statement without any possible exceptions. And notice what he's saying here, this will help you understand more fully the bigger point that he's making.
Here's the point. The order of life over time, across centuries, across many people, across cultures, the order of life over time shows that children who honor their parents will do better in life than those who defy their parents. General principle of life.
And when you think it through, you can see why this would be, especially those of us who have a few more years on our lives and have seen things, children, here's the thing. You're going to go through life, whether you like it or not, you are going to go through life under someone's authority. You're under the authority of government.
You'll be under the authority of a boss one day. You'll be under the authority of church leadership if you're in a decent church. There are principles of authority throughout all of society, wives you'll be subject to your husbands.
God's established a pattern of authority in the order of the universe. Well, where is it that we learn this principle of submission and obedience to authority? How is it that we learn to get along with the authority that is over us? It happens in the home. It happens as you, in a microcosm of a greater societal principle, learn to respond well to the authority that God's put in your life.
If you reject and rebel against and kick against the smaller level, smaller realm of authority that God has given you, on what basis do you think that you're going to respond well to other authority outside the home? And when you can't respond well to authority in the workplace, you know what's going to happen? You're going to get fired. You know what's going to happen when you don't respect the authority of law enforcement?
You're going to get arrested and end up in jail. And on it goes. See, there's more than just your parents involved. There is the self-discipline of you learning to respect authority, honoring it, and complying and adjusting your life to it. And that's not the principle of power speaking to those trying to keep them in subjection, as liberal theologians would try to say. This is God's Word. This is the way that God has ordered life. You cannot object this, you cannot question this, rebel against it without rejecting and rebelling against God Himself, which is ultimately a way to set your path on a direction that leads straight to eternal judgment in hell. How are you going to respect the authority of Christ, the authority of God's Word, if you won't even respect the authority of your parents in your home?
What makes you think that God will somehow bless you and receive you into heaven if you have a settled heart of rebellion against everything that He has established in your life? How could that ever go well for you? Do you see that your own self-interest is at stake here? And so children learn to respond to authority at home, and that carries over to the authority of a boss, law enforcement, marriage. You know what else, children? One day you're probably going to be a parent and you know what you're going to want? You're going to want obedient children. And how do you think they are going to learn obedience from you if you've spent your whole life in rebellion against your own parents?
You're just setting up a cycle that will bring you misery in life. And why would you do that? Why would you do that when God has graciously made it plain to you and promised you, you know what, honor your father and your mother and it will go well for you in life? Why would you kick against God? Why would you kick against your parents?
Why would you kick against your own self-interest in life by continuing in the hard rebellious attitudes that you have toward your parents? It's totally irrational, isn't it? Isn't it? No, it's okay. You can nod because I'm going to agree with myself anyway. You might as well agree too, just for the sake of harmony, for relationships in the body of Christ. You might as well agree. This is irrational, isn't it?
Yeah, it is. And you know what that tells you? You know what that tells you? It tells you that sin is irrational, that sin dominates a heart and distorts its thinking in such a way that you act in ways that are completely contrary to God, your own self-interest, and it's obvious and yet you're dominated by it. That's why you need a savior. That's why you need to be delivered. That's why you need to repent and come out of, you need to come out of your life of sin. You need to come out of that rebellion in your heart and submit yourself to Christ and ask Him to save you and redeem you and to wash away your sins with His precious shed blood on Calvary and be open to the consideration that maybe even though you've been in a church all your life, maybe that you've never been born again and that you need to be born again today because your life has been so completely inconsistent with the clear teaching of God's Word here. Paul has given us guiding principles, as I said, not an exhaustive catalog. I've spoken primarily to those who are still being brought up, still, you know, in those birth, teenage, maybe early 20 years under your parents' authority, but I want to address those of us who are adults and we have parents, address parents and the role of parents of adult children, and I realize that this can present some particular challenges and so I just want to give you a little bit of perspective to help you as you go forward. I'm mindful.
One of the things I love about being a pastor and preaching this way instead of just having a conference circuit, preaching the same six messages all over time, what I love is knowing you well enough to know some of the heartaches that you faced in life and some of the challenges that you're going through and to be in a position to be able to help you with that. And so let me just give you a perspective on how the principle of honoring your father and mother applies as you move into adult life, okay? That's what we're going to do in just a couple of three minutes here. First of all, we need to understand this. First of all, the duty to honor your parents continues into your adult life. It does not cease when you exit your parents' home. As if suddenly you can disregard your parents and that this principle no longer applies. It continues into your adult life. We see that from the fact that Jesus cared for his own mother on the cross.
Jesus cared for them. And even though your geographic and your residential place may change, they're still your parents, right? And so somehow this principle of honoring your parents still continues. And so what can we say about this in the most general of ways?
The most general of ways. Even as an adult, you should continue to show love and care to your parents even after you've moved out of the house. Whatever that means in your context, the idea of love and concern and care for your parents is a responsibility that goes with you when you leave the house. You don't leave that behind.
What does that mean? You should be generous and patient with your parents. You should overlook their faults with a willingness to be as gracious with them as God has been gracious with you.
God doesn't impute iniquity to you. You should have an equally magnanimous, generous, gracious attitude toward your own parents. That's one way to honor them. You should pray for them. Do you pray for your parents? When you have opportunity to speak of them, do you speak well of them? Do you at least restrain yourself from speaking ill of them in deference to the fact that they are your parents and God says to honor them? Your parents should never be the subject of ridicule in your conversations with others. That's not honoring them. That's not honoring the God who gave those precise parents to you. What you speak and your attitudes in your heart, you should provide for them as their needs require and as your means allow.
There's a matter of resources. There's a matter of heart attitude. There's a matter of the discourse that you engage in. You can still honor your parents that way without being in the same kind of obedient relationship that marks those who are being brought up in a home in the early years of their life. Now secondly, and this may be especially helpful, I hope so, the nature of your honor changes in adulthood. The nature of your honor changes in adulthood. Should you honor your parents in adulthood? Yes. Is it the same kind of obedience that you give when you're under their roof? No, it's not.
It couldn't be when you see the totality of Scripture. First of all, those of you who enter into marriage, marriage means that you give a higher priority to your spouse than you give to your parents. Look at chapter 5, verse 31 of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 5, verse 31, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. There's a setting apart, there's a separation that takes place so that in your attitudes and in your perspective on life, you say, well, I'm going to honor my parents, but my first priority is my spouse. And so there's a matter of setting a priority and perhaps setting some boundaries in your relationships with your parents.
Now let's say this. As you enter into marriage, you should include a relationship with your parents and what flows out of that. That would be God's order. You can give a priority to your spouse and leave and cleave, as it were, and still have room in your heart and life to show honor to your parents, even though it may not be the same quantity of time and effort that marked you when you were in your own home, in your parents' home. So marriage should include a relationship with your parents, but it changes the nature of the priority that you give to your parents. Now let's say this and just trying to be real about life here. Having said that, having said that you should honor your parents, let's be honest.
Let's just be really candid with each other and not make this some kind of pretend environment that no one lives in. If your parents refuse to honor boundaries or they try to set you against your spouse, you need to give preference to your mate, not to your parents. You cannot, in obedience to Christ and leaving and cleaving to your spouse, you can't honor that prior principle and then, in the name of honoring your parents, let your parents wreck your marriage with their interference and unkindness if you run into that. And so we see that fidelity to Christ does not require compliance with every parental demand once you're married because your parents are now subordinate to your marriage relationship. You can still honor them, but you also have to realize that it's not like this.
For those of you that are listening on the CD, it's one hand over the other. You need to be aware of that. So however that works out in your life, I'll trust the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom. The nature of your honor changes in that way. Marriage gives you a higher priority to your spouse.
Secondly, secondly, oh, and this one is so important. Loyalty to Christ may bring conflict to you with your parents. Jesus was explicit on this point. Look over at Luke chapter 12, Luke chapter 12.
And I realize that some parents will try to throw your spirituality in your face and say, why don't you do what I say, blah, blah, blah, you know, we're not capitulating to that. Luke chapter 12 verses 51 through 53, just to understand, I just want you to see that Jesus understood that this would happen as men follow Him. Verse 51, He says, do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you no, but rather division. For from now on, five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided.
Look at this. Father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, and on it goes the the reality of the world's opposition to Christ is going to play out often in family relationships when a man or woman is saved and he's now an adult in relationship with unsafe parents and the parents want things out of you and demand loyalties that you cannot give to them because of your faith in Christ. And what you need to see is, and we hold these things lightly and not trying to overstate them, but your parents cannot dictate the terms of your faith and obedience to Christ. Christ is supreme. Christ is the one who laid down his life for you. Christ is overall your great command and is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. And it is not the prerogative of parents to inject themselves and to diminish your faith or to call you away from Christ. They do not have that prerogative. When they do that, you must obey Christ and not men, period.
Do you understand the supremacy of Christ? Then that settles it. And understand this is intended as a comfort to you to realize that if your obedience to Christ has brought you into conflict with your parents, then understand, take comfort in Christ. And if he told you in advance, it would be that way. And not worry over it as though you were doing something wrong.
You know, I've mentioned this in the past, I mentioned it again. As a young man, as a new Christian, my father sat me down one time, he said, I'm glad you're real religious, but it's gone too far and I want it to stop. He was just seeing the fruit of a transformed life. I hadn't gone off the rails in any way, shape, or form.
You know what? I did not dishonor my father when I told him no. And I told him no immediately.
He'd never seen that before. I wanted to stop. He said, Dad, no.
No. Jesus Christ has changed my life. I'm not going to stop following Him. Now, at the same time, in the days that followed, how did I honor my father in that?
I didn't separate from Him. I sought all the more to show the love and obedience and honor and respect that I could within that context of how Christ defined the parameters of our relationship. Dad, I'm sorry, but you're not the Lord of my conscience. We can't go there. And you won't go there. But I'll give you every other aspect of human love and affection and obedience that I possibly can in the affection of Christ and the power of Christ until the Lord takes you home.
And it broke my heart when God took Him sooner than I expected. But parents cannot dictate the terms of faith and obedience to Christ. Thirdly, we said that the nature of your honor changes in adulthood.
Firstly, marriage changes it. Secondly, loyal to Christ may bring conflict. Finally, peace may not be in your control. Beloved, peace may not be within your control to make it happen. Some conflicts may not have ready resolutions.
You know, Romans 12 verse 18 says, if possible, insofar as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Sometimes it's not possible. God understands that. I understand that.
But here's where you go in response to that. Even then, even if you've reached the point where you say, peace is not possible here, it's not even possible for us to have a relationship based on the way my parents act. Even then, guard your heart. Don't feed your anger.
Don't feed resentment. Remember that Jesus calls us to even He not only calls us to honor our parents, He calls us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. If you find that in that distorted situation with your own parents, at least start with your heart and say, Lord, I'm going to keep, I'm going to pray for them, Lord, I'm going to honor them. I am going to, I'm all express love and I'm willing to be reconciled as soon as they show that same willingness.
Somehow, show an inclination, develop, cultivate an inclination in your heart that says, God, they're my parents and God, they won't have a relationship with me, but oh God, I would have it if they would. And I pray that you would bless them and help them. And when it comes to talking about them with others, I'm just not going to say much.
I'm not going to speak harshly or badly about them, Lord, I'm just going to trust you with that. Can you adopt that kind of perspective in the way you go forward? Look, human relationships are complex, aren't they? And relationships with parents go to the very heart of who we are. As we work through these things, as you work through these things, as you go out, if there's complexity in it and you're dealing with parents that have really messed up, go out with this with a sense of dependence on Christ. Christ guide me, help me, guard me, direct me, and help me to honor this principle even if it's not immediately evident to me how that could be. For those of you who have parents that are great and wonderful like I do, my surviving mom, capitalize on it and bless them with your love and care as long as God gives them breath. And with that, Pastor Don Green has concluded our series on family and a message titled The Biblical Role of Children. We've been reminded not only that parents must be honored and obeyed, but the reasons they should be.
And it all comes down to this, if you seek to honor the God who made you, as all Christians should, you must honor those people God has placed in authority over you here on earth. Well, next time Don will present another edifying message straight from God's Word. Join us then here on The Truth Pulpit.
Right now, though, Don's back here in studio with some closing comments. Friend, one of the things that I'm always mindful of when I'm here in studio is I'm mindful that there are people out in the audience that are like I used to be, thinking that they were Christians, but not really having the life of God in their soul. You've perhaps read the Bible or gone to church, but you've never really turned your life to Christ in repentance and saving faith.
I was like that. I know what it's like to be self-deceived. I just encourage you, if you've just viewed Christianity as something kind of casual and not all that important, my friend, examine yourself.
See if you're truly born again, and let that work of God in your heart lead you to truth, lead you to the Scriptures, so that you would enter into the profound life that belongs only to those who are true Christians. Thanks Don. And friend, we invite you to visit thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find information about free CDs of any of Don's teaching, and also a link to Don's Facebook page. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you to join us again next time as Don Greene continues teaching God's people God's Word in the Truth Pulpit.
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