Absence of Honor

Overheard:

“Even when I really, really wasn’t happy with my mother, I could never imagine ever speaking to her that way.”

When did it become not just “okay” but normal and acceptable for children to dishonor their parents?

I’m not talking about a simple LACK of honor . . . I am talking about the active DISHONORING of their parents by children – especially grown children – that has become so commonplace it is now normal.

I have been witnessing this phenomenon of the rampant disregard for and dishonoring of parents in our society for several years now and it was brought home this week while my wife and I were vacationing.

The above “Overheard” statement was made by the lady whose home we stayed in for most of our trip. She is a gentle, soft-spoken woman who has two grown children.

She lost her husband a couple of years ago and has been managing and growing the family business since that time. She has also been nurturing her daughter through her divorce from a man who was abusive.

As I was sitting at the breakfast bar listening to mothers talk about how their daughters have been relating to them in recent days, I could see how big a deal was to them. And how heartbreaking.

Both of them are very confused. And heartbroken. And they are not the only ones these days.

Many parents of grown children have the same heartbroken disbelief over how the children the love can be so quickly and easily dishonoring.

They simply cannot understand what it was they had done that could have caused their daughters to speak to them harshly, to be short and curt to them, to disregard their feelings as if they are a nuisance, and to rise up in angry belligerence when they disagree with them.

These two ladies were talking about how they – two women I respect and admire – were feeling as a result of how they were left feeling by recent interactions with their daughters – young women I also respect and admire.

And it got me thinking about how far we have come from God’s original, exquisite design.

The Bible admonishes children to do two things: first, when they are young, to obey their parents; second, when they are older, to honor their parents.

Both of these are given as commands, not suggestions, and in both instances it is to the children’s advantage that they do so.

It’s pretty easy to figure out what it means for child obey their parents. But, what does it mean for child to honor their parents?

Do you know what honor is, what the word means?

The Hebrew word underlying “honor” in the 5th Commandment proposes a heaviness, a weightiness, a relentlessness, and a richness, all in a long-lasting, continuing sense.

It implies a lifelong responsibility, thus it is used in the sense of honoring, glorifying, imposing, or being weighty.

In English, honor means “to give high regard, respect, and esteem to; give special recognition to; to bring or give respect or credit to; an outward token, sign or act that manifests high regard for.”

Two English words – respect and reverence — help bring into focus the implications of this commandment.

Respect means “to have deferential regard for; to treat with propriety and consideration; to regard as inviolable.” Reverence means “to show deferential respect.”

Honor has a far wider application than obey. Honor is expressed in courtesy, kindness, respectfulness, thoughtfulness, mercy, and generous, affectionate deeds.

Just as surely as God requires parents to care for, love, nourish, defend, support, and tenderly provide for their children their first moments of infancy, so children in their strength should reflect this back to their parents, even in their perceived “weakness.”

God has not provided a disqualifier for this command, the loopholes, no escape clauses. He does not say, “Children, honor your parents as long as they are worthy of honor.”

When a grown child speaks rudely, harshly, angrily, disrespectfully to their parents – no matter what justification they may believe they have – they are in fact dishonoring their parents.

And it’s not so much about the deeds were the words, but about the heart behind them. In God’s economy, dishonoring one’s parents is dishonoring God.

And, on top of that, it breaks the heart of the parent being treated so – especially a mom.

Mom’s are, for the most part, loving, caring, nurturing, self-sacrificial, lovingly devoted to, easily made proud of, and very often heard bragging about their children.

And even if the child is engaged in embarrassing, shameful behaviors, you won’t hear it from mom.

How is it, then, that a grown child could have such blatant disregard for heart and feelings of the one person in their life who has invested more in them than any 10 others?

And heaven forbid anyone were to come against that child — who do you think would be the first to come to that him and him child’s defense? Would it not be Mom?

To hear a grown child say that they are entitled to respect “too”, while it is true to a certain degree, they are not rise up against their parents and demand it from their parents.

To do so would require them to be dishonoring – and that is absolutely not okay with God.

Bottom line: Children — grown children — honor your parents in the Lord. This is your duty, your sacred obligation, and it is honoring and pleasing to God.

You may just find life turning out richer, better, and longer than even you feel entitled to.

Oh — and if you’ve been dishonoring and disrespectful to your parents — get on the phone and apologize. You never know when you will have waited too long and it will be too late.

Soli Deo Gloria

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2 thoughts on “Absence of Honor

  1. Sabrina Wright says:

    wow, meaningful and impactful to reflect back to my ups and downs of my relationship with my mother. It hasn’t been but just in the last 5-6 years that I have intentionally worked at repairing my relationship with my mother and father. To look at the ups and downs of the interactions/conversations that I have had with my parents in the years between 25 and 47 makes me feel horrific and awful. With personal success and developing a life with a husband I drifted from the safety and comfort of a home that was nothing but love for me…not that I deserved it or understood what love truly looked like. I was raised in a home like many homes with many life challenges that occurred because there was a lack of biblical perspective and understanding of the truth of God’s design and purpose for our lives. How do parents teach what honor looks like? I can remember to my embarrassment many times when I spoke rudely and disrespectfully to either parent I would receive a swat across my mouth with the comment of not to speak that way. I also was sent to my room many times for bad behavior including sassy speech to mom. My dad was the governor of discipline and the protector of my mom. As I have come to believe it should be! Today, how does the message get conveyed clearly what honor and respect look like? Relationships are important and they are work. We are called to be good stewards of the relationships in our lives, and I need to ask for help daily to do so…and I still fail. I am fortunate that I was just with my mother for a couple of days just recently. She is frail, ill and tenderhearted. My biggest fan! There is nothing I can do to erase the past but I have the present to invest and honor her in small and great ways. Mom enjoys a regular phone call to say hi and ask how she is feeling. That’s not hard! May each and every person who reads this reflect and act to reverse any hurt and pain inflicted in a thoughtless and careless moment or interaction. Call her today! Tell her she matters to you and you love and appreciate the love and investment she has made in your life. May this message be shared and relationships be mended.
    Thank you for bringing this issue into the light!!!

    • Pastor Lamb says:

      Thanks for sharing your heartfelt response. I hope more people will read this and allow the underlying message to percolate through their lives even more than the surface message – treating others with honor and dignity is our duty, not our option.

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