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The Bible on Children and Parents

According to the Bible, children are to treat their parents with great respect. In fact, if a child strikes or curses his or her parents it is as serious as murder, kidnapping or adultery. “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:15).

Notice that the parent does not need to be killed or even badly injured to deserve the death penalty, the child only needs to strike the parent. Such a concept would be outrageous in our society today when parents are dismissed by our leaders and even told that children should teach them instead of the other way around.

The very idea that parents should be held in such high regard so as to issue the death penalty for striking them is offensive. We might say that the family, not just the child needs to see a counselor or that the child might need anger management classes but the death penalty? Hardly.

Yet, the Lord commands that a child who curses or strikes his mother or father should be put to death. The Lord apparently has a different standard that we have, that should not come as a surprise.

“He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 21:17

What does it mean to curse one’s mother or father? The traditional understanding has not been using foul language, although we might think otherwise, but to use the holy name of the Lord to purposefully curse your parents. While this carries the death penalty, there has not been a nation operating under God’s law and no one has been put to death in over two thousand years.

The guiding principles at work in these passages of scripture are that there are certain things needed in order for a society to be stable and at peace. A biblical worldview places an importance on the family as a foundational part of a healthy society. Disrespect, rebellion, and violence toward one’s parents is as much of a threat as murder, kidnapping, and adultery.

We should also understand that this does not absolve parents of the obligation to not exacerbate their children but instead reminds us to start early in training up our children. When parents use proper discipline on their children to correct their selfish and rebellious tendencies they will have better behaved and more polite children who are a joy to the family and society at large.

By contrast, parents that allow their children to become insulant and disrespectful are a shame to the family and really no one can stand to be around such children.  Today, children are taught to be disrespectful and it is not uncommon to hear those children mouth off to their parents. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul warned of in his second letter to Timothy:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” -2 Timothy 3:1-5

The company we keep is as important for our children as it is for us. If we knew that our children’s friends were thieves or gang members, we would not allow them to hang out with them. The same should be true for the disrespectful friends, not to mention hanging out with their parents. According to the bible, these things are seriously equal in importance.

Showing Mercy

mercy in giving

Mercy is difficult to come by these days.

We live in an age when everyone desires their own way of thinking and acting, an age when hearts are cold as ice for lack of compassion.

Mercy and compassion are a foundational part of our faith in Jesus Christ. Showing mercy and showing grace are what the Lord talked about often.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” -Matthew 5:7

Mercy is the act of not giving someone what they deserve or doing to them what you have the power to do. Our heavenly Father shows us mercy when He allows us to live instead of pouring out judgement on us for our sin. That is why grace and mercy are so often mentioned together.

However, mercy goes beyond withholding the negative, it is also about giving what is needed to end suffering. This too is modeled by the Lord. He not only withheld the things we deserved but He gave us what we needed. We deserve eternal separation from Him but He forgave us our unrighteousness and gave us eternal life.

It goes further still.

Because we were forgiven of disobedience, are we now to continue in that disobedience? Think of the example Jesus gave in parable of  the unforgiving servant found in Matthew 18:21-35. When the debt is forgiven do we go out of our way to create new debt? May it not be true.

Rather, we should be changed by the mercy we have been shown. The very nature of mercy demands that we extend the mercy we have received to those we can in turn show mercy. According to Our Lord, receiving mercy requires a merciful heart. It is the only requirement.

Forgiveness and mercy are closely connected. We must be merciful to forgive. We can look on a person and know that they have fallen short of our expectations, they deserve our condemnation and whatever we have to power to do to them. They have hurt us or they have hurt others. They deserve whatever they have coming to them.

So did we. We have hurt others, we have sinned against God and against our fellow man. We deserve what we have coming to us. Yet, the Lord gave us mercy, He withheld the very wrath and anger that we deserve.

He forgave us.

We are indebted to God. How do we repay such mercy, such kindness. We too show mercy.

And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.

People, be they our friends or our family even an enemy, have hurt us. They have wronged us, trespassed against us, they deserve our rebuke. But, the Lord has shown us mercy and so we are obligated to show them mercy as well.

When we obey God in this way, we not only receive His mercy but we gain a warm heart. A merciful heart is a compassionate heart, a giving heart, one that extends kindness. Once we are able to show mercy it is easier to show more mercy. Mercy that extends to all of God’s creation.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made. -Psalms 145:8-9

We are to imitate the Lord in showing mercy to people and to over all that He has made. Kindness to animals, in steadfast love is a part of this mercy. We should give compassion to them too.

The reason this old world seems so cold is because it lacks mercy, it lacks compassion. It belongs to us to show mercy, because it can only truly come from the people of God. Bringing mercy, grace and kindness to others can thaw the cold heart, it can open the door to salvation.

If you have unforgiveness in your heart it is time to show mercy. While the people you owe vengeance may deserve it, it is withing your power to forgive, to be merciful.

Are you willing?