Question: The Bible tells us we are to take care of and honor our parents, but how far does this go? Do we care for them daily or provide for them daily? Should they be involved in our everyday lives? Live with us? Does this mean we take care of them like they did us as children?
Exodus 20:12 (NASB)
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
This seems like a loaded question in that there was a specific reason behind its asking. The question shouldn’t be how far does it go but what is meant by honor? Basically, the word for honor in Hebrew means to make heavy or weighty. I think you could see it like this, the thing that is honored is not easily cast off, that it is of a great importance in the heart and mind of the one who is to have it.
Honor is something that is severely lacking in our society today and especially amongst the youth. People act so wishy washy about things, changing their minds quickly. Honor is not just a thing you have for certain people, honor is a heart issue. Honor is a way of life, a way of thinking and acting. To a Christian, honor should be of utmost importance. This is because honor is really a love issue.
So let’s look at parents, how far does honor go? What could similarly be asked is how far does love go? This question is very difficult to answer in that there’s so much left out. Are the parents saved? Are they living for God? Are they abusive? Are they causing division? See, in all of these things there are different approaches. The heart behind what God was requiring of His people is to not think lightly in handling your parents. Because we owe our very lives to them, we must consider them in our lives and hold them in high esteem.
To answer the various questions asked I have one blanket answer, what would love do? Do they need a place to stay, what would love do? Do they need daily care, what would love do? You see, when we answer what to do in our personal interactions with what would love do, we always start on the right foot. We must also think soberly about our situation. Let me give you a scenario. Let’s say your parents can’t pay their rent. They come to you for help but let’s pretend you can barely pay yours. Honor doesn’t mean you don’t pay your rent to pay theirs. Honor means that they matter to you. Maybe you try to help in ways you are able or maybe you help them find help. You can only do what you can do.
What God requires of us isn’t that hard when we look at it right. We are called to be different than the world is, to be conformed into His image. What would Jesus do? When it comes to God’s direction we should never be looking to just do enough to fulfill some religious rule, rather we should desire to be right in knowledge and action. Only when we desire to be right can we be pleasing to Him. Don’t ask how far do I go, ask am I doing what You want me to do Lord? Then you can have faith that you’ve acted honorably.
2 Corinthians 8:21 (NASB)
For we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.