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About this series
God's Boundaries for Abundant Living
Psychologists tell us that boundaries provide security, protection, and self-esteem. Long before psychology, God provided ten clear boundaries to protect His people from harm and give them the highest values ever recorded on the earth. "God's Boundaries for Abundant Living" gives a fresh look at the Ten Commandments and will help you discover God's boundaries for your highest, best and most abundant living.More from this series
When you are a small child, you obey God, you honor your parents by obeying them. In your teen and young adult years, you honor them by respecting and cooperating with them.
And third, as an adult, I honor my parents by affirmation and provision. Those are the two key words. Affirmation and provision.
And you say, well, how do you affirm your parents? I’m going to say the number one way you affirm your parents is by your life. By your character. By your godliness. Proverbs 23:24 says, “The father of a righteous man has great joy. He who has a wise son delights in him.”
If you’re thirty years old, forty years old, fifty years old, your parents are still living. Sixty years old and your parents are still living. The greatest gift is not a phone call, as wonderful as that is. The greatest gift is not a birthday card, as wonderful as that is. The greatest gift is not buying them a little trip and sending them somewhere. The greatest gift, as an adult, a grown adult, is becoming the kind of man or the kind of woman that is pleasing to God, that is Christ-like. That your parents can look and say, “Wow. Wow. Oh, Lord. Who am I to get to be the mom or the dad of that godly man or that godly woman? And, oh, oh, Lord, what an amazing thing to see this godly son, or godly daughter, raising my grandchildren in the fear of the Lord.” Powerful. It’s how you honor them. You affirm them by your life.
Second, it says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to do it.” That’s Proverbs 3:27. I want to suggest that you not only honor them by your life but you honor them by your actions. Affirm them by your actions.
See, we affirm our adult parents by affirmation and then also by provision.
This is probably the most radical part of this entire lesson. Let me read 1 Timothy 5:4 and 1 Timothy 5:8 without any interruption because what I want you to see is that when you become an adult, a non-negotiable requirement of honoring your parents is to financially provide for their welfare in their latter years. This was written, this command was given before social security. Okay? And, you know, praise God for any government programs or praise God for life insurance or praise God for different things that people have done to care for themselves.
But you need to hear that the biblical model of who is responsible in this thing called the cycle of life. You know, this is a fact sometimes we lose sight of. If it wasn’t for your mom and dad, you wouldn’t be here. Ponder that one deeply. I mean, bad mom and dad, hard mom and dad, difficult mom and dad, abusive mom and dad, difficult childhood.
Now, all that being said, if it wasn’t for that mom and that dad, I’ve got, on good authority, I’m going to just go out on a limb and say, you wouldn’t be here. And when you came into the world, you couldn’t do anything, could you? Nothing. If your mom and dad, you were feeble, you were completely dependent, you were tiny, you couldn’t feed yourself, you couldn’t clothe yourself. All you did is make messes. And they joyfully, on most parts, not all, but they joyfully embraced you and your messes, and did everything for you.
God’s wisdom and God’s Word and God’s plan is, there may well come a day when that cycle will go full circle and you will have a mom or you will have a dad that will be completely dependent on you.
And you know what? They might need a diaper. And you might need to feed them. And you will have to figure out what that looks like, there are a million different ways. And whether that’s moving in, or moving in isn’t good, or assisted living, or daily visits, or weekly visits, or monthly visits.
Or, you know what, you’ve got to figure out, there are a whole lot of issues to figure out what that looks like in your particular situation. But listen to this passage because the Bible is very clear that we’re morally responsible to do that and that’s what it means to honor our folks.
It says, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren…” He’s talking about who ought to receive financial funds from the church. I mean there’s only so much money in the church to go around. The Apostle Paul is speaking to Timothy and says, “Hey Timothy, you know, you asked me a couple questions, you’re a young pastor. Let me give you the lowdown. This is God’s perspective on who should get money and who shouldn’t. Which widows?”
So he says, “If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn, first of all, to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family.” The acid test of putting your religion into practice isn’t your quiet time, it’s not going to church, it’s not ministry involvement. Great things. He says, first, they should put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents for this is pleasing to God.
Skip down to verse 8: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and he’s worse than an unbeliever.” Now, is that strong or what? You have to be wise and discerning to know what it looks like. But we are morally responsible, as believers, to care for our aging parents.
That’s what it looks like to honor our grown parents. We affirm them and we financially provide for them. I put on the bottom of your notes Matthew 15:1 to 9. I don’t want to develop it but this is one of those, you grab a cup of coffee and read it through. But you need one little tiny piece of information because it will really make a lot of sense.
Jesus is being attacked and they’re saying you are destroying the traditions. You are not obeying God. You are this radical teacher. What are you doing? In the first couple verses of Matthew 15. And Jesus turns the tables quickly and He says, wait a second. You are the ones that are destroying the truth of God based on the traditions of men. And then He quotes, he quotes, the fifth command.
It says, “The Scriptures says, ‘Honor your father and mother.’” Da da da, He lays it all out. He says, “But you have said, you have taken that which rightfully belongs to supporting your parents.” And what they would do is, it was called Korban. You have called it Korban. And what they would do, it was like a little trust fund. And they would say this is designated for God.
And it was a trust fund designated for God but they wouldn’t actually give it into the temple. They would say, this money is set aside for God. They would take the money that was supposed to go to their folks so they wouldn’t have to support and help their folks and they said, oh, let’s make it spiritual. We’ll call this Korban and it is designated for God. Someday, someway. And then they’d wait ‘til their parents die so they could use the money on themselves.
And He says, you have taken the traditions of men and nullified the truth of Scripture. Jesus takes this actual command about supporting parents and He goes right to the jugular with it. I think as people are living longer and longer and longer, this is going to be one of the real big issues to the body of Christ. What does it look like to lovingly support and provide for? And some of us thought, you know, man, if we could ever get our kids through college, if we can ever get close to paying off our house, whew. I got news for you. We may get there and we may need to start saving and planning for the whole next big picture, which may be supporting our parents.
And it also has implications too for, as we get older, thinking, you know, how can I help be a part of this process where I don’t kill my kids because they’re morally responsible. How could I set my life up in such a way that I’m not too much of a burden? One of the things my dad did and I still remember I thought it was crazy. He took a pretty expensive assisted care policy out. And I thought to myself, I mean, it was pretty expensive because he didn’t take it out until he was about seventy.
And at seventy, my dad’s playing softball with thirty-year-olds. Playing first base, batting about six-fifty. Go figure, huh? That hyperness I get honestly. By seventy-five, my dad’s spending a good portion of his time in a wheelchair and he contracts a rare disease called Shy-Drager syndrome where the autonomic system starts with your feet and then, little by little, it goes up all through your body until nothing works.
And you know something? His insurance policy pays a hundred dollars every single day for an in-house healthcare professional. And it was his wisdom and discernment to do that that took tons of pressure off me and my sisters. So some of us need to think about what the kids need to do and some of us need to think about what we might need to do.
Let’s wrap up because there are some, I promised, who as distasteful as it is to talk about it, it’s reality. In your heart-of-hearts and your emotions are, I don’t want to honor. Okay? I mean, you’re not going to show it and you’re not going to give a facial expression in this room.
But down deep in your gut you’re thinking: I don’t want to honor my mom and dad, okay? I don’t. In fact, I don’t want to not, I don’t even like them. Okay? In fact, I have anger fantasies toward my mom and dad. Buddy, you know, this sounds nice, cute, little Bible type stuff for you. You didn’t grow up in my home. You weren’t abused like my sister and I was. You don’t know what it was like when he came home drunk and beat mom up. I’ll tell you what. I can’t honor my mom and my dad.
And I would say that the Scripture is clear that we are to respect what’s right in the sight of all men to be at peace with them as far as it depends on us.
And I think there are four times when you can’t honor your parents. I’ve given you the passages but I want to highlight them and let you dig them out for yourself.
The first time is the priority of salvation. Mark 10:23 to 31. My wife recently had the opportunity to lead a young Jewish girl to Christ. And one of her big issues was, do I tell my dad or not? And what’s it going to mean? And she had to go through this issue of, am I going to align with God? What if my dad says, you know, you’re out of this house. Forget it. And she had to come to the point where rather than honor her father’s wishes, she had to say, I’m going to receive the salvation of Yeshua HaMashiach as my Savior and my Messiah and put my faith in Him, regardless of what my father thinks.
And there are times where we cannot honor our parents or their wishes when it comes to choosing between them and their desires and putting your faith in Christ.
Second, is the priority of service. Luke 9:59, 62. He says, you’re going to, there are times where we’re called to serve God. You leave mother, brothers, sisters, homes, families. Right? When we took off for seminary, Theresa’s dad would not speak to us for about four or five months. He did not even, he did not show up to say goodbye. He was so close to my older boys. And he was so angry. And it was just hurt and he didn’t know how to express it. But he got so ticked off it was, you know, he couldn’t see we were preparing for ministry. It was a call of God. All he could see was, I’m losing my grandkids and I, and I mean, he just…
Well, you know what? We had a choice of either honoring her father or honoring God. There are times where God will call you into service where you honor God and not your parents.
The third is Ephesians 5:31 to 33, the priority of marriage. There are some parents, some in-laws and they figure out ways, some subtle, some not so subtle, to put a wedge between you and your wife or you and your husband.
At one point in time and, you know, this isn’t pretty to share but, you know, my mom is gone now and my dad is eighty-one years old, and in a wheelchair, and I don’t think he’d mind me sharing this but out of their great love for me, they put a wedge in our marriage.
We would get occasional calls. A person to person call. My wife would answer the phone. A person to person call that would say, “Hello, this is for Chip Ingram.” “Who is this?” “His mother, or his father.” And my wife answers the phone. Now can you imagine what it would be like to pick up the phone and have someone’s parents call and call person to person? Is that, like, a not so subtle, we don’t want to talk to you. You don’t matter.
And then I had to have one of those big sit-down times with my folks and basically, and they did it this way, and this way, and this way, and this way. And I had one of those, you know, come to Jesus meetings.
And I said, you know what? If you want to pit me against my wife, hear me. You lose. Okay? If you want a relationship with me, it’s me, my wife, and our family. If you want it with me alone, you lose it all. The priority of my life, before God, is that woman. Don’t ever treat her that way again.
On another occasion, her dad came in and every time he would come in, he was just like an expert at, like, how to ruin her world. It took her three months to recover after every visit.
This washer’s, this washer on this, how come no one’s fixed this? Look at these knives. These knives are dull. You know, and I mean, he would just go around the house for three or four days and just, everything that was wrong. And so, you know, you live through it, you eat a few meals, then, and you know, you know what it’s like when in-laws are there sometimes. Then, you know, you sit up in bed and talk and then your wife cries and then you get up and thinking, man this is insane.
So Fred and I have, we had a come to Jesus meeting at K-Mart. And we go to K-Mart and, you know, he’s this great grandfather and buys, you know, enough candy to kill seventeen kids on any two days and it’s his way of loving and I let it go. “Eat it, kids. Brush your teeth. Eat it, kids. Brush your teeth.”
And so we pull in from K-Mart and we’re sitting outside and I said, “You know, Fred.” I said, “You know, we’ve had our differences and I know you really love your daughter and I know you care about the kids. But we need to talk about something.” I said, “When you come you pick apart every single thing in my house and everything about my wife. And, I mean, it’s destroying her.” “Uh, well, you know, those knives ought to be sharpened.”
I said, “Fred, you know what? It ain’t your job to figure out how sharp our knives need to be and what faucets work or don’t work, okay? Now, Fred, hear me. I love you man. And your daughter loves you. But we’re going to go in that house, okay? And when we go in that house, if you continue to criticize my wife, you’re going to leave. And you’re only going to come back until you can figure out how to have good stuff come out of your mouth toward your daughter, instead of bad stuff. Okay? Now, it’s your choice. You can do whatever you want. I love you, she loves you, the kids love you. But I’m not going to let you destroy my wife and destroy my family.”
Very quiet. Fred walked in. It was like a button was pushed. Night and day. I never heard him criticize my wife in the next ten, fifteen years. And see what I want to say is, there’s a time you don’t honor them. There’s the priority of salvation, service, and marriage.
And then finally, this last one, it’s the priority of what I’ll call “wisdom.” If you have your Bible, flip it open. It’s an important passage. Proverbs chapter 9, verse 7. It says, “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult. Whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he’ll hate you. Rebuke a wise man and he’ll love you. Instruct a wise man, he’ll be still wiser. Or teach a righteous man and he’ll add to his learning.”
That first line. “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult. Whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.”
In Proverbs there are four characters. The simpleton, empty-headed has no knowledge, needs to get it. There’s a fool who’s against God. There is the mocker who opposes God and all that God is. And there’s the wise person who responds to truth, puts it into practice. And if you read all through the book of Proverbs, those are the four characters.
And it says, when there is a mocker. When there is someone who is hostile. When there is an alcoholic, a drug addict. When you are in your situation and you say, “Dad, you can’t swear and drink in front of my kids like that.” “What are you trying to tell me? That’s my kids, it’s my house.” Well, you know. And then you try and speak the truth in love and they blow up. “Mom, you know, I’m sorry, I know you want to see the kids. We can’t watch, I mean, that is vile. We can’t watch that kind of stuff with my kids in the room. I’m sorry.” And she blows up. “Who do you think you are?” And you relive your childhood.
There is a time when there is behavior among your parents where they are mockers and they are ungodly and when you lovingly try to respond to them, and they blow up and they abuse, where you draw boundaries around it and you don’t reprove them.
And you take a step back and you say, the door is always open. We would love to have a relationship with you. But when my kids are involved or my family is involved, if these behaviors, these outlandish bursts of anger, or this type of manipulation. If that occurs, then you need to understand, the door is open but we won’t be back until that gets resolved.
And sometimes you have to set wisdom boundaries. You can’t, in attempt to honor your parents, allow them to destroy your whole family. Or to ruin your kids. And that takes great wisdom and great discernment. And it’s always an open hand and you pray for them. But there are times when, because of their ungodly behavior, you set boundaries for your family and yet you honor your parents. You honor the office but not the person.
I’ve been through seasons of that where just the behavior was so outlandish you had to honor the office. He’s my dad. He brought me into the world. Thank you, Jesus. But that behavior will not be allowed to impact my family. I draw a boundary around it and I’m going to protect my family. I honor the office. I can’t honor the person with that particular behavior. And God will honor that.
Question. What is the next step for you to honor your folks? If you’re a student here, are you cooperating? Obeying? If you’re a parent, are your kids learning to obey? And if you’re an adult, are you affirming your parents and are you mentally, physically, and financially preparing to provide for them? That’s what it means to obey the fifth command.