There was a student who came up to his teacher and asked, “Sir, will you punish me for something I didn’t do?” The teacher was a bit puzzled and he replied, “Of course not, why should I punish you for something you didn’t do.” “Oh good,” said the student, “Because I didn’t do my homework.”
Will God punish you for something you didn’t do? Depends on what you didn’t do. But seriously, this morning I want to focus on the reverse: God will bless you if you will do something. Let read this morning’s bible passage, taken from Ephesians 6:1-3. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.””
Now when I talk about honouring your parents, some of you may be tempted to switch off, particularly if your relationship with your parents are not going well. I ask you to please do listen to what God has to say. Part of this morning’s bible passage comes from one of the 10 commandments, “Honor your father and mother.”
Those of you who are familiar with the 10 Commandments would know that the first 4 commandments have to do with our relationship with God and the next 6 have to do with our relationship with our fellow human beings. And the very first human relationship God addresses is our relationship with our parents. It’s that important.
Not only that, according to Jewish tradition, when Moses received the 10 commandments on the two tablets of stone, there were 5 commandments on each tablet. What’s the significance of this? It means the commandment about honouring our parents comes together with the commandments about worshipping God. God ties obeying our parents closely with obeying Him! But why should we do so? What’s the motivation? Today’s passage gives us at least one. It says, “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise)… a promise of blessing if we do so.
Before my wife and I got married, we were discussing our wedding plans and we wanted to do away with the traditional Chinese dinner (it’s quite expensive and I’m a poor church worker). So we suggested to our parents that we would have our church wedding and then have a tea reception. Both our parents were reluctant, but they eventually gave us their consent.
6 months before our wedding, my dad told me, “Aiyah, I still think it’s better to have a dinner.” 6 months! People book venue’s 1 year ahead of time. I was like, “Where to find a place to host us?” Not only that, but it would be so tiring! Church wedding, tea reception, wedding dinner. But Catherine and I decided to honour our parents, so I started calling different places and thankfully I managed to book a really nice restaurant to host our wedding dinner.
On the night of the dinner, my dad said, “Don’t worry son, I’ll take care of the bill.” The wedding dinner was a really memorable event. Both our parents really enjoyed themselves along with our relatives. Let me tell you the kicker. Now I don’t know whether you know this but during a Chinese wedding dinner, the red packets from each side of the family guests goes to that side of the family. So even though my father paid for the entire dinner, he only received the red packets from our side of the family. But what he received more than covered the cost of the dinner! And the extra? He gave it to Catherine and I as our wedding gift.
We went to our honeymoon (Japan obviously!) with $2000 extra pocket money. What a blessing! And it was because of our decision to honor our parents, even above our own wishes; God blessed us as we chose to obey His commandment. But the greatest blessing was not even the money, but that our marriage started off on the right foot: having established good relationships with our parents.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” It honors God and He promises to bless us as we do so. Young people, our parents are not perfect. They do make mistakes. That’s why the phrase “obey your parents in the Lord” is important. It means to obey your parents when they instruct us in God’s ways. In the right ways. In the right paths. It’s not blind obedience. I believe if you were honest with yourselves, most of the time, our parent’s instructions are meant for our good and protection, not for evil. So obey them.
Let me conclude. God wants to bless us. Some of us are not experiencing God’s blessing because we are not honoring our parents. Would you start doing so today? Let’s pray.