5/13/17

7 Ways to Honor Mom (or Dad)

I'm thinking about Mom today. I just saw her this past week, on the other side of the continent. It was hard to leave, never knowing if I'll see her again. But I rejoiced in the opportunity.

Although I'm focusing on my Mom todaysince Daddy is in heaventhe truth is, I'm really thinking

about parents in general.

Many years ago, I learned one way to honor God:  honoring my parents. Honoring the parents the Lord gave us is a sign of respect for them but also obedience to the Lord.

The honor of obedience as children (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2) should flow into mature respect as adults (Deuteronomy 5:16: Ephesians 6:2).

In some cases, it may be difficult to obey and tough to honor. Parents are human with their own set of weaknesses and strengths. There will always be hard cases and "impossible" people, and it's especially hard when that's in our own homes. Dealing with that could fill another post.

But in general, there are many ways to honor our parents, and I want to consider seven of them today.

1. Give Respect

Respect is a hard sell sometimes. Yet the scriptures show God expects us to respect all authorities (Romans 13:7b; Leviticus 19:32). We are to regard their God-given position.

Honoring parents is one of the most overlooked of the Ten Commandments, but Jesus repeated the Old Testament command to honor parents (Matthew 15:4a).

I learned about respect for authority as a young girl: to respect my teachers even if they were harsh, to respect the police officer even if he was foul-mouthed. Respect for position is not the same thing as admiration. It is simply giving honor where honor is due.

Part of that respect is speaking well of our parents both in private and publicly, rather than cursing themrunning them down (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9).

Even if we have a dysfunctional parent, we can still respect their authority and appeal to that authority for change (after much prayer and in a spirit of humility).

If your parent has passed on, consider if there is still some way to honor their memory.

Do you respect your mom (or dad)? If not, isn't that an issue to take up with the Lord?

2. Show Esteem

To esteem is to combine respect with admiration, to recognize and declare value.

We can respect a parent and still not admire them, but when we do find things to admire, we should express admiration.

I knew a woman whose dad was an alcoholic. She respected him, even though she didn't admire his lifestyle. But she prayed, asking God to show her some element in her dad's life that was praiseworthy.

God opened her eyes to her dad's tender heart of compassion. Because he so often felt out of control, he understood others caught in the trap of addiction. The woman was touched to watch her dad, in his sober moments, reaching out to encourage the down-and-out. She expressed high esteem for that quality in him. And he responded in brokenness and love.

Ask the Lord to help you "see" the qualities in your parent worth esteeming.

3. Express Kindness

Most parents experience the hard knocks of life and some develop a hard shell to protect themselves. One way to break through the shell and gain their trust is to express kindness.

Kindness is a given for the believer. God's children are to "put on" kindness regularly (Colossians 3:12), and the Spirit of God enables us to be kind (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul said, "Be kind to one another...." (Ephesians 4:32a), and there's no better proving ground for kindness than in the family.

How can you show your mom (or dad) kindness today in a way that will touch their heart? 

4. Practice Forgiveness

The other half of Ephesians 4:32 includes these words: "...forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

This is a tough one for many adult children. Parents fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and need the grace of God to transform their lives . . . just like their children. (Parents fall short of their own expectations, too, not just their offspring's' expectations.)

Deep wounds in the home linger like old, unsightly baggage. They threaten to destroy relationships.

But Christians are not left without hope. We learn forgiveness from the Savior who forgave us on the cross and continues to forgive (Luke 23:34a). He is our model of forgiving grace. We CAN forgive parents for hurting and wounding usin Christ. 

Forgiveness does not take hurts lightly or excuse them. Forgivenessyielding to the Lord our pain, bitterness and angerhands over hurts to the Lord, the righteous Judge, who handles all offenses in His own time and way.

Do you need to forgive your mom (or dad)? Can you trust the Lord to enable that?

5. Seek Wisdom

It's common today for grown children to proudly reject their parent's wisdom, but it's foolish when they do. Even the most ungodly of parents can teach their children practical wisdom in some area of life.

The Bible pairs youth with foolishness and age with wisdom (Job 12:12; Proverbs 20:29) for a good reason. They have walked the path and experienced many of the potholes! In general, parents have learned a thing or two, and a wise adult child will intentionally seek out this knowledge and apply it.

When facing a big decision, seek your mom (or dad's) wisdomeven if you decide, ultimately, not to "receive" it as your own wisdom.

Think about what your mom (or dad) has been through. Is there some question you might ask to gain wisdom for your own life? 

6. Offer Support

There are many ways to offer a parent support that have nothing to do with finances.

For one, we can let them know we still "see" them. They haven't become invisible. There's nothing more troubling to the elderly than being older and isolatedalone and lonely. The psalmist expressed this in terms of feeling "forsaken" (Psalm 71:9).

The adult child can assure parents of ongoing love, concern and emotional support. Healthy support includes encouraging words and actions. Perhaps an occasional note or letter. A phone call. An encouraging text message.

"Be there" for them as they become feeble. Understand how devastating their loss of independence can be and allow them to do as much as they are able to do. Be their "backup system."

Validate their emotions, even if you can't understand them. Listen with compassioneven if they tell the same story for the umpteenth time.

If parents are believers, encourage them to "bear fruit" in their old age (Psalm 92:14). One of the most godly women I know was a fervent prayer soldier. Another mentored younger women as long as she could. Consider if there's some way to help them be more "fruitful" in ministry.

Where does your mom (or dad) need your emotional support? How can you be creative and offer it in practical ways?

7. Provide Assistance

In 1 Timothy 5:3-8, Paul reminds Timothy to honor widows in the local church. He addresses two principles regarding provision. Children are to provide a "return" to parents and family members are to "provide" for members of the household.

The overarching principle is this: Don't let a family member struggle with needed provisions. That doesn't mean we cater to every want and whim, or indulge foolish appetites. We don't want to contribute to foolish choices. But we do come alongside to figure out how we might help with legitimate needs.

We may have limited resources ourselves, but there is always something we can share, some way we can assist in our loved one's care.

Think about your mom (or dad). Is there some way you can provide assistance today? Do you need to ask some questions to see where the real needs lie?

Honoring our parents is our duty, but it can also be our delight as we ask the Lord for His heart of compassion and begin to see Mom and Dad through His eyes.

PLEASE NOTE: 
If you are estranged from your parent, the Lord
 can change that in an instant, or over time. 
But in the meantime, is there another "mom" or "dad" 
who has influenced your life and nourished your growth? 
Don't forget to honor them too!

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