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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
The second aspect is then not when they’re a child but as a young person I honor my parents, by respecting and cooperating with them.
This is for, kind of, the middle to late teens, early adulthood but you’re still living in their home. You’re still eating their food. You’re still sleeping in their bed. They still buy, you know, a pretty good portion of your clothes.
The car insurance, you’re not taking care of. In other words, you are still dependent. You’re mature. There’s a natural tension and there is a breaking away and you’re making more and more of your own decisions, and you’re choosing your friends, and you’ve been taught well, and you’re making good progress.
And now respecting and cooperating with your parents is what it looks like to honor them. Notice Proverbs 23:22. It says, “Listen to your father who gave you life and do not despise your mother when she is old.” I would add, don’t despise her any time. But especially when she’s old.
He goes on to say in Proverbs 20:20, “If you curse your parents, your life will end like a lamp that goes out in the dark.” You need to teach, and if you’re a middle teenager or someone’s still living at home, you need to respect your parents. You know what? You can disagree.
Are you ready for this? Your parents don’t even have to be right. It will happen. On rare occasions. If you’re sitting here and you’re a student and you’re listening to my voice and, you know what? There are certain times where, yeah, they don’t get it.
And they say, this is the way it is. And you’re thinking, that is totally wrong. You know what God’s will for you is? Respect your parents, cooperate with them. God is sovereign. Your parents will get over it. They’ll look back one day and realize how smart you were and how much you knew and they should have done it your way.
But you know, God’s going to hold you responsible to respect and cooperate with your folks. And you know what? Wise parents understand there’s real tension.
The picture I have, the word picture that has helped me so much with my kids is during this time, those middle teens and on, I view my kids like a kite. And what they really need to do is they need to learn how to fly and fly on their own.
And what you do is you just keep letting out string. You just keep letting out string. And as long as they’re doing fine, you keep letting out string. And the string is is that you have responsibility over here and you have authority over here.
And they get to make more and more choices the more and more responsible they are. And when they make really bad choices, the responsibility and the authority, you just keep them together.
And you know what? How late they stay out, when they can use the car, how much money gets allotted to here or there is all based on the more responsible they are, the more and more and more you let loose.
One of our kids right now, just, she’s very, very mature, she’s doing things at seventeen that none of her brothers did. Because she’s more responsible than they were. They say girls, you know, mature faster and part of that, I’m sure, is true physically. But with her, it’s true spiritually.
So one of the things I wanted her to learn is, I’m thinking, you know, a year or so from now, she’s going to have to make all the decisions. And so, Theresa and I sat down and we figured out, you know, how much money, in general, do we spend on everything for our daughter? And, I mean, not just some sort of allowance but clothes, makeup, camps, everything and we decided that we would take that x amount of money and just give it to her each month.
And she has her own account and she makes her own decisions, she saves money, she is learning all the things like, you know, she just went to a camp and she paid half of it. Well, she had to figure out last December how much money she’s going to save to have money for camp. And then when she goes to a store, it’s not, like, “Hey mom, hey Dad, look at that blouse. Can I have that one? Could I have one?”
And she’s not like that. But it’s like, well, you know, it costs x amount of dollars, you have x amount of money. Make a good decision. And see, what you want to do, the goal is not that you restrict your kids and create some artificial bubble, whether it’s in a school or your home or some environment.
What your goal is, how do I help my kids learn to make great decisions? How do I help my kids learn to be loving and others-centered? And how do I help them learn to be responsible? And that’s, and they love God. You don’t want them to become independent. You want them to transfer their dependence from you to God.
And if you’re a student or you’re living in your parents’ home, boy, the responsibility from God’s perspective, honor your parents. Respect them, cooperate.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like when Jesus was a teenager? You think He knew more than His folks? I think so. You know, I don’t think He ever had a bad day. But I have a passage that tells me that from age twelve on, that after that little event, remember where mom and dad didn’t know where He was and He was learning from the rabbis and teaching some of the rabbis?
I’ve got a passage that says, from that age on, He lived in subjection to his parents. And what He modeled for every teen, post-teen, and early adult is that, you know something, there’s going to be dialogue, there ought to be times around the table where there’s healthy exchange, really real disagreements.
But at the end of the day you say, you know, mom, dad, I just want you to know, I totally disagree, I don’t think it’s a very good decision, I think I should be able to do that, I think it indicates maybe you don’t trust me like you need to but boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, but you know, at the end of the day, I tell you what, mom and dad, I’m going to honor you. And I think God will reward my life for it.
And by the way, when you start creating that kind of atmosphere, the way you produce great kids is you feed them responsibility. You let them do things early, early, and earlier on as they demonstrate themselves responsible, that they look at you like, you’d let me do that?
And I’ll never forget, it was actually, there’s a lot of people from Indiana here. I was between my senior and junior year and it was a basketball tournament.
And my parents, I had a Volkswagen van and four of my buddies after the state tournament. And we drove to Indianapolis to meet some guy I met at a tournament to play hoops outside.
And, you know, I’m not even a senior and I asked my mom and dad. “You’re going to let me go?” “Yeah.” In fact, my dad walks over, pulled out his wallet, he says, “Here’s a credit card, you’ll probably be a bit low on gas.”
Now, here’s four guys, seventeen, who meet a bunch of guys at a state tournament, and we’re going to drive for a couple three days to Indianapolis. There’s a lot of not good things that could happen, right?
And I remember thinking, my parents are nuts. I mean, I would never let me do this. I just asked thinking they probably won’t, you know? And I’ll never forget, my mom was with my dad, she leaned over, she goes, “Chip, we know that you would never do anything to disappoint us.”
I mean, the thought of doing anything, the thought of doing anything that would bring shame on them or disgrace never entered my mind. But it wasn’t because they figured out a zillion ways to restrict me. It’s because there was open dialogue and they demonstrated that much trust in me.
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, you ever give your kids 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.
And let me just give you a little, kind of, salad bar of suggestions and the one that hits home, you’re probably doing a number of these.
But one is, I would say, communication. Especially when we get spread out. Communicate with your folks. Whether that’s a call, whether that’s a letter. And I know there’s times where the relationships get really funky and there’s some generational issues.
I’ve watched, at least with my parents and my wife’s parents, is when there’s conflict, they don’t like conflict at all. And, kind of, speaking the truth in love you want to get that out on the table and bring resolution. They don’t do that.
When there’s conflict, they just withdraw for, like, three or four months or at least they used to. And then you get a phone call, like, six months later like nothing happened. “Hi! How you doing? Everything okay?”
And you’re going, whoa, what about that big argument at Thanksgiving and, you know, you did this and all this stuff and don’t we need to get this on the table and speak the truth in love? And, you know, it’s just wild.
And so there’s times where you feel like the last thing I want to do is give them a call or jot them a note. But I think one of the ways we affirm our parents is, as far as it depends on us, and at appropriate ways at appropriate times, there’s times you can’t, where you communicate with calls and letters and visits. And I think just thoughtfulness. Just being thoughtful.
You know what? We don’t know, I mean, growing old is something that happens to other people until it’s you.
And I think just being thoughtful about the dynamics of what it’s like to grow old. What it’s like to be alone. What it’s like to not be in on the action. What it’s like to experience some level, I think, as you grow older all of us are going to have some level of regrets.
What it’s like to deal with internal issues. And just being thoughtful. Including them, when possible, in special events. You know, if you can arrange a birthday with, you know, one of the grandkids or working things out where, you know, just by shifting it a few days this way or that way or celebrating a vacation on this direction, where you can include them. You know, when that works.
I think that communicates you affirm them by your action. And one of the ways I’ve found you affirm them is just by making requests. You know, ask what they think. I mean, it doesn’t mean you have to take their counsel.
But some of us, you know, you had the early knocking of the heads and so you had the early knocking of the heads where you learned not to listen to them and then you go through the next thirty years acting like they don’t have any wise counsel to give you.
You know, it’s an amazing thing, one of the things I’ve cherished and I’ve got two adult sons that, I guess they’re thirty now.
And I’ll tell you one of the great, when they have emotional issues and issues of the heart, I hear Theresa talking on the phone for long hours and I just think, now I know why those guys, when they score touchdowns always say, “Hi, Mom.” You know? They never say, I’m waiting for some guy to score a touchdown and go, “Thanks, Dad.”
I mean, you threw the ball with me ninety-eight thousand, no, it’s always, “Hi, Mom.” I mean, kids, there’s something about moms.
But, you know, when they have a big decision to make or a couple of them are involved in full time ministry, in fact, the third one’s going into it now. Or when they have a truth in love issue or a wisdom issue. I gotta tell you, even if they don’t take it, it makes me feel so affirmed when they say, “Hey Dad, I got an issue. Let me run this one by you.”
And I listen and, you know, if there’s a passage or something or an experience I can say well, you know, let God lead you but, you know, from where I’ve been these last years, here’s, kind of, here’s my take on the situation.
It’s powerful. And you know something? You can be in a wheelchair and give counsel. You can feel like your life doesn’t have a lot of value and say, “Dad, mom, would you pray? I really need your prayers on this one. One of the grandkids is going through this one. I mean, would you pray?”
And then ask them to pray and then tell them what happened. 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 gonna 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’s in 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 gotta figure out, there’s 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 is 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 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 [Shay]-Dragers 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 now his legs don’t work. 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’s 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 gonna, there’s times where we’re called to serve God and who do you leave? 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’s 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 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 wise. 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 drugs, this alcohols, 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 commandment.