“They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.”
Romans 1:30 NLT
As we continue to work our way through the behaviour of those who “thought it foolish to acknowledge God”, we come across their propensity for being disobedient to our parents. How can that be a feature of “sinful, wicked people” (Romans 1:18)? Surely, if parents say something that we disagree with, and that we are old enough to make our own choices, then we shouldn’t have to agree with them, should we? But, quoting Exodus 20:12, one of the Ten Commandments, Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:2-3, ”“Honour your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honour your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth””. Right back at the start of the Jewish nation, God gave them an instruction, no, more than that, He gave them a commandment, that He knew would keep them all together as a nation. It was as fundamental as that. The inference is that those who contribute to the break up of their families would end up with a shortened life span, because it would lead to the break up of their nation, if nothing else, making them easy pickings from their surrounding enemies.
Spiritually, though, the importance of keeping our families together, both across and inside our generations, is one of God’s Commandments. So the sinful wicked people who do otherwise are going to end up in a place where they don’t want to be. And that is just as true today as it was in the days of a group of Israelite slaves standing at the foot of Mount Sinai.
How do we behave in our parents’ company, in obedience and honouring them? We give them the respect that they deserve and work hard to ensure that the relationship is protected. That nothing comes along that forces a wedge between us and our parents. We keep short accounts, and don’t end up moving away in a huff. Sadly, I know a mother whose son has not spoken to her for over twenty years. Something happened so long ago that the woman cannot remember what the problem was. Hurt and puzzlement have replaced love and honour. In my own family, an uncle and aunt fell out over something trivial – I think it was something to do with a wedding invitation over thirty years ago – and they both went to their graves never having spoken to each other again. So sad. Sad for their relationship, but also sad for their future beyond the grave.
We pilgrims need to work hard at ensuring all our relationships are Godly, not just those with our parents. Of course, we will “blow it” from time to time. Saying things that we don’t mean, or behaving badly in their presence. But we must keep short accounts, working hard to put things right if we’re wrong. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27). And in Romans 12:18, we read, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone“. And the relationship more important than any other is the one with our loving Heavenly Father. We must always stay in His presence, because only He has the words of eternal life. Only God can ultimately save us and draw us into His presence, now and forever.
Dear Heavenly Father. We worship You today, the God who created us and our parents before us. Please help us to keep short accounts with all our family members, that those in our community will see Your light illuminating our society. In Jesus’ name. Amen.