Honor parents (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother—this is the first commandment with a promise—That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.
Ephesians 6:2-3 AMP (emphasis mine)
This seems like an incredibly broad promise for God to make! And for what? That we honor parents? When I first read this, I believed that God was setting the bar a little low for such an expansive blessing. But that was before I really understood what it means to belong to a sovereign God.
Here’s what God’s sovereignty means to my daily life:
- It begins when God says, “Go.”
- It ends when God says, “Done.”
- It’s salvation when God initiates it and completes it.
- It’s surrender when I give God everything He demands.
- It’s a confession when I’ve said all that God wants to hear me say.
- It’s repentance when God is satisfied with the furrowing of my heart.
- It’s obedience when God’s will – not mine – is performed.
- I have forgiven someone when God tells me my heart is clean on this matter.
- I am myself forgiven when God assures me that I have met His conditions.
In a nutshell, I’m not the one flying this plane. I am Hooch to God’s Turner, Smokey to God’s Bandit, and Goose to God’s Maverick. To belong to God is to play second fiddle in your own life symphony. It takes equal parts gentling and breaking to bring us to this daily reality – and it takes however long it takes.
A Critical Spirit
Just last week, God exposed an area in my life where I’ve demanded the lead. I was presiding over a circumstance, making known my most “excellent” discernment of the issues at hand, and doing so with witnesses. (I am slowly growing more thankful that my life motto appears to be, “Why exercise discretion when you can pull your pants down in front of an audience?!” I am ever telling on myself whether I want to or not.)
The Lord, through Martha, diagnosed a stronghold at work: a critical spirit. Now, I soon learned that a critical spirit isn’t just negative – though that’s the usual. A critical spirit holds forth on every aspect of every subject. A compliment that isn’t born of the Holy Spirit is simply a critical spirit audaciously determining what should be valued in a person, place or thing. And for me to pronounce over someone, apart from what God gives me to say, is to curse them – even if I’m ostensibly complimenting them.
This is a big bad, and the more I saw, the more I was wrecked. I asked God to take me to the bottom so that I could revoke every curse and put it under the redemptive power of Christ’s Blood. It’s been a week, and I’m still going. This is over when God says it’s over, and not a moment before.
Honor Parents, Live Long
By the same token, making peace with parents is accomplished when God says it is, and not a moment before. “The first commandment with a promise” indicates that God considers how we view parents to be very important. He makes no exceptions for absent, indifferent, abusive or even dead parents, so we’re all equally on the hook here in terms of how we honor parents. I have a completely different view of those verses today. I wonder now, how many people have ever actually met God’s conditions and received that promise? How many have done the work to honor parents as the Holy Spirit leads, and not just as they determine is right or good? Maybe that’s the reason such a huge blessing is attached to the act of honoring parents. It’s no small feat.