Obeying God and Honoring Parents When You're an Adult Too
Login or Create an Account
With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!
Growing Pains: Obeying God and Honoring Parents When You're an Adult Too
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). As a child, it felt like the Fifth Commandment was made especially for you. You see your parents every day, and you're expected to obey them. In addition, it's pretty easy to tell whether or not little kids are showing respect to someone, regardless of how "sneaky" they're trying to be.
Now that you're all grown up, maybe some of the other commandments (listed in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) are of greater concern. Perhaps you're striving to be content with what you have and to avoid covetousness (Exodus 20:17). Maybe you're struggling to put God first in your life and get your priorities straight (verses 3-6). But what about the Fifth Commandment? Does it still matter when you're an adult too?
Definitely! There is no age limit on God's command here! He doesn't say, "Honor them until you move out or get a job, then do whatever you want." Honoring your parents is a lifelong endeavor. So what are some practical ways to continue obeying God and honoring your parents throughout adulthood?
Christian care and concern
Let's glean two things from Jesus Christ's own example in John 19:26-27. As He was being crucified, Christ expressed concern for His mother Mary, entrusting her care to His disciple John. First, notice that Jesus was 33 years old at the time, further proving that a positive parent-child relationship is not only for kids and teens. Second, He had compassion and outgoing concern for his mother's (and by extension, His physical father Joseph's) well-being, emphasized by the fact that He was in unimaginable pain at the same time.
When is the last time you asked your parents how they're doing? The last time you took a time-out from whatever was filling your day and really discussed what was going on in their lives? Visit them in person or reach out to them over the phone, for no special reason other than that. As their child, you are a treasure to them, and they enjoy those conversations more than you realize.
Concern for parents is also highlighted in Paul's first letter to Timothy. Paul writes that if a widow has children or grandchildren, "their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God" (1 Timothy 5:3-4, New Living Translation). As innocent babies and carefree children, our parents provided for us and insulated us from the harshness of the world. God actually says that in providing as we are able in their age or time of need, we are effectively "paying them back." Do your parents have any outstanding physical needs? Is there anything they require your support with, especially as they age? God is looking for accountability from adult children in this regard, and it is a matter He takes very seriously (1 Timothy 5:8).
A foundation of respect
God spoke through the prophet Malachi as follows: "A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!" (Malachi 1:6, NLT). The parent-child relationship is one of God's great analogies for His personal relationship with you and me. As a result, we should treat our parents with respect (a synonym for honor). Can other people see that as part of your Christian life? Is that something your own parents are confident of when they visit with you?
There are many practical ways to show respect. As mentioned above, we shouldn't constantly be spewing "contempt" for them to those we talk to. There should be tactful communication in place with your parents so that when issues arise you feel comfortable discussing it with them. It's also a good idea to avoid constantly criticizing them when you're talking to them; this isn't enjoyable for anyone. Realize they are their own people and will have many of their own quirks and mannerisms with them for the rest of their lives. Instead, try reaching out in thankfulness for raising and providing for you. Let them know you appreciate the sacrifices they made for you; they probably did more for you than you will ever know.
Indeed, God encourages us to go to our parents for advice throughout our lives. After all, they are in a place of God-given authority before us. Scripture says that a "wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke" (or "correction" in the NLT) (Proverbs 13:1). Certainly, you are your own person too and can make your own decisions in life. But God reminds us to listen and give heavy consideration to the advice of mom and dad. God says these pieces of counsel are to be bound "continually upon your heart" and tied "around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you" (Proverbs 6:20-22). As we have seen, there are many ways to express godly love and respect for your parents no matter what stage in life you are in.
Now, up to this point, I have approached this topic assuming a generally positive relationship with your parents already exists; I recognize that this may not always be the case. I also recognize that some parents are not honorable people (for more on that topic, please read this article). Rest assured you can voice any and all concerns you have to God and He will surely hear them (Philippians 4:6).
In whatever situation you are in, let's seek to wholeheartedly follow God's instructions on the matter: "Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father" (Leviticus 19:3).