I was privy to a heated conversation recently that centered around respecting and honoring elders. In fact, the opinion thrust upon me was if children don’t do the aforementioned “their days will not be long on the earth.” If we don’t “we better watch out.” This sent me on a search like none other. I am thankful that I was presented with these sentiments because I now have a better understanding of what I feel is my refuge. What I am called to do as a believer in my situation.
From the questions I have fielded over the past few days coupled with your soul scars and stories shared, I think many of you reading have the same question. How can we honor those that we feel are not honorable? How are we supposed to respect those that aren’t respectable?
Scripture can and will be twisted and interpreted by any reader to give validity to their argument. It is what it is. It’s because we are human. It’s our job to read, dig and pray. Don’t take my ramblings at face value. Read, dig, pray and come to your own conclusions.
My days “will not be long on the earth if I am not honoring and respecting my elders.” Let’s start there. First of all, it is my wish to exude honor and respect to all of my elders. But the cold hard truth is that not all of my elders are easy to honor and respect.
I searched the Old and New Testament alike for references regarding this topic. I also completed an exhaustive search with respect to the Old Testament versus New Testament teachings and the relevance of each to a present day believer.
I am familiar with the Mosaic Covenant but I now understand the historical relevance a little better. In short, the Mosaic Covenant was a set of laws for God’s chosen people of Israel. The Mosaic Covenant was a deal God made with the Jews and not anyone else. It was a set of laws for a specific time period and with a specific people. The Mosaic Law or Covenant isn’t a formal set of laws for anyone anymore. When Jesus died on the cross a new covenant was formed for everyone.
Obviously, the moral obligations set forth by the Mosaic Covenant are still in practice today. We follow them today not because they are the Mosaic Covenant but because they are moral obligations of a reasonable people.
So what was considered set in stone, so to speak, from the Old Testament and mentioned again the New Testament? There are several things reiterated. For me, it all boils down to Matthew 22:37. That scripture tells me to love my God with ALL of my heart, soul and mind and love my neighbor as myself. If we are striving to accomplish these, all of the other stuff will follow suit, will it not?
But come on now, who of us can honestly say that we have ever loved God with ALL of our heart, mind and soul? Not me. And if you say you do, you aren’t being truthful. I’m a flawed human and that’s the point is it not? I strive to love God with everything I am and my neighbor as myself but again, just a flawed individual.
We can’t save ourselves. Therein lies the difference between the Old and New Testament. Stick with me guys. It’s gonna make sense in a bit or maybe send you on your own search.
In the Old Testament, God’s chosen were to obey the a rigorous set of laws. Blessings and curses were passed out according to their level of obedience. We don’t live under the law today. Thank God because I would surely be feeling the wrath.
Back to the questions at hand. How do you honor elders that don’t necessarily make it easy? How do we please God under these circumstances?
It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that God desires the family unit to stay intact. In order for society to flourish so must the family. Even if you aren’t a believer, it’s easy to agree with that statement.
Children learn their belief system from their parents. Through the passing on of sound moral principles, society stays intact and functional. Gods plan was that a society under these circumstances will flourish, so that we may live long on the earth, or live long on the land that our father has given us.
In many of our cases, our families don’t live up to what God had in mind. Many of you have shared with me atrocities thrust upon you by your parents. Living long on the land in the way that He intended us to live as a family, well it isn’t a possibility. Families are inundated with alcoholism, molestation, physical abuse, sanctimonious and mental illness to name a few. So what now? What’s a kid to do?
The answer is very simple. Grace. Extending it is the difficult part.
I don’t believe that God is going to snuff me out if I struggle with honoring and respecting my elders. Truth of the matter is, some elders or parents are not respectable. I know for sure there are times that my children have struggled with honoring and respecting me based on my actions and vice versa, rest assured.
I’ve been told recently that elders aren’t under the same obligation to honor and respect where kids are concerned. That respect isn’t earned from the top down. Respect is given no matter what from the bottom up. An elder doesn’t have to earn the respect of a child, whether adolescent or adult.
I am not sure how to reference scripture here. I don’t feel it is necessary, however. It’s just good old fashioned common sense.
In my classroom for 14 years, I extended grace and didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing. I had many undesirables walk through my classroom door. I knew there was one way to their heart. I had to show them I respected them in order to win their hearts. Were they always worthy, absolutely not. Did I develop deep, rich relationships with countless numbers of those “undesirables?” Yep. I don’t think those kids expected me to respect them and their position in life at the moment.
If parents and kids alike can’t dole out that same mind set, how will a deep, rich relationship be nurtured? It won’t.
Respecting and honoring?
When your relationship is riddled with hurt or abuse, your only recourse is to extend grace.
If the mentality you are dealing with is respect me because I am older, a holier than thou mentality if you will, your refuge is extending grace.
Arguing gets you nowhere. Trying to fix them according to your desires gets you nowhere. You’re refuge is grace. God’s extends it to me on a daily basis. That’s the whole foundation of salvation, is it not? Honoring and respecting for some of us will come in the form of grace. AHA MOMENT! NO ONE deserves it.
I will work on being a grace giver. No doubt I’m gonna screw it up. I’m human.
The notion that God will snuff me out for having less than honorable and respectful feelings towards my elders is not valid. If that were case then I’d have been snuffed out along time ago for a multitude of other reasons. Thank you God for grace.