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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The Power of Submission

Craig Smith - The Power of Submission

Craig Smith - The Power of Submission
TOPICS: The Big Ten, Authority, Submission, Obedience

Hey, thank you for joining us today, we are actually in the exact halfway point today on our journey through the Ten Commandments, which I think is a good time to tell you two things you may not know about the Ten Commandments. Two things that are helpful for understanding all of the commandments, but they’re crucial for understanding the fifth commandment that we’re gonna take a look at today. And the first thing you might wanna know is this, is that each of the Ten Commandments is a first step, it’s not a finish line. That make sense? The Ten Commandments aren’t at the finish line for what it looks like to live a life of righteousness and filled with the joy that God calls us to. It’s a first step in that direction, it orients us towards where we’re headed, and then it helps us begin to move in that direction. But it’s the first step it’s not the finish line. We know that in part because of the way Jesus talked about the Ten Commandments. Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said, ‘Do not murder.’ He said, But I tell you that even if you’re angry with a brother or sister, you’re liable to judgment.” And all God’s people went, “Oh, no,” right?

That is the appropriate response to that. But it says the highest standard is not that you don’t actually kill somebody. The highest standard is actually that you don’t harbor anger, and animosity, and bitterness, and anger in your heart even. That’s really what it’s calling us to. He said in this kind of very similar way. He said, “You’ve heard it said don’t commit adultery. But I tell you, if you look at a woman lustfully you’ve already committed adultery with her your heart.” That’s the highest standard. That’s actually the finish line is that we don’t entertain attraction to anybody other than our spouse, in our hearts even. Adultery is just the first step. It’s not the finish line. And we tried to take that approach throughout the Ten Commandments. It’s gonna be particularly important, though, to keep that in mind as we look at the fifth commandment today.

Now, the second thing you may not know about the Ten Commandments, and it’s really important to understand, is that they break into two sets, you can actually categorize all the Ten Commandments into two very distinct sets.

And it’s interesting, at a certain point in his ministry, some people asked Jesus, “Hey, what’s the greatest of the commandments?” And he responded very quickly, he said, “Oh, it’s to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” So loving God, that’s the first commandment, the most important one. But he said, the second one is like it. And the second one is to love your neighbor as yourself. So in other words, to love others, he said, “That’s really the two most important commandments really, that’s all the commandments put together, it’s love God and love others.” And it’s interesting, the Ten Commandments are organized in exactly that way, they follow that same pattern. And what I mean is, the first five are about loving God, and the second five are about loving others. The first five are about loving God and the second five are about loving others.

One of the ways you can see that is if you look at the first five, you’ll notice that commandments one through five all have the same phrase in them, and that phrase is, the Lord your God, that’s the cue that these commandments are about, the Lord your God, they’re primarily about loving God. And the second set of five, six through ten, don’t have that phrase in them. Okay, so that tells you okay, first five are about loving God, the second five are about loving others. Now, well, the reason I tell you that today and the reason I think it’s so important for understanding the fifth commandment is the fifth commandment on the surface really feels like it’s about loving others. But it’s in the first set. It’s in the first set and it’s about loving God.

So even though it looks like it’s about loving others, it’s actually really about loving God. Let me show you what I mean, if you wanna grab a Bible, make your way to Exodus chapter 20. We’re gonna be starting in verse 12 today, the fifth commandment says this, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” That’s the fifth commandment, “Honor your father, and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” And there’s that phrase, do you see it? The Lord your God is in that. But this is the last time in the Ten Commandments that we see that phrase, after that the commandments don’t have that.

And again, that’s a cue that this is primarily about loving God. And I think that’s good news and it’s bad news. It’s good news for people who listen to this and they struggle with the idea of honoring their mother and their father because honestly, your mother and your father weren’t honorable. Some people struggle with the idea of honoring their mother and father because their mother and father weren’t honorable. You may have grown up in a home where you didn’t have a loving father or mother, that they neglected you, or mistreated you or maybe even flat out abused you. And the command of God that we’re to honor our mother and our father might feel impossible, it almost might even feel a little bit cruel, because they’re not the people who are worthy of being honored. And it’s good news to understand that this command really isn’t about them. It’s actually about God, and that there’s something about the process of figuring out how to honor people, even if they’re not honorable, that actually impacts in a positive way our relationship with God. That this is really ultimately about loving God.

And so if you’re coming from a background like that, that this is a hard command for you I just want you to know, I get it, I’m sensitive to that. But I wanna encourage you to stick with us throughout this message. Because what’s at stake is really more about your relationship with God than it is about your relationship with your parents. And this idea that the fifth commandment is more about God than our parents is actually bad news for other people. It’s bad news for parents, okay? Because it means that this is not like God throwing us a bone as parents, right? This, I mean, let’s be honest, this is like a parent’s favorite verse in the whole Bible, right? This is like the ace in the hole. This is the ultimate answer to the most annoying question ever, right? Like, I don’t know about your kids, my kids from ages about, like two to like, I don’t know, 12 or something. They had one question that they just asked endlessly. And it was a one-word question. Do you know what the question is? It was why, right? Why? Everything was well why?

And like, listen, you ask your kids to do something that you know is important, right? And they come back and ask you, “Well, why?” And like, I was a good parent, you’re good parents. And so we want our kids to understand the reasons why we’re telling them to brush their teeth, or eat their vegetables, or look both ways before they cross the street, or not get into vans driven by strangers, right? And so we’re good parents. So we explain it to them. And we explain it to them, and they look at us and they go, “But why?” I’m like, “Okay, I’m gonna go, well, I’m a patient, and I’m a kind person. I’m gonna go a level deeper, I’m gonna explain to you.” And then we go a level deeper and then they’re like yeah, “But why?” And here’s the thing, like, I don’t care how patient and kind you are. I don’t care how enlightened of a parent you are. At some point, we all do what we swore we’d never do. We all say to our kids, what our parents said to us, and we swore we would never say that to our kids. We get one why too many. And we look at our kids. And we go, “Because I said so.”

And our kids look at us with love, and adoration, and respect. And they say yeah, “But why?” And at that point, this is a great first to have. At that point, you can go “Because God has said so.” Well, yeah, “But…” “No, no, no, no. You got to take it up with him now,” right? And so to find out that this verse isn’t actually for our parents, that’s a little bit of a disappointment. But it’s not. The fifth commandment really is more about loving God than it is about loving your parents. And another way that we can see that and not only does it have the phrase, the Lord your God, but also there’s something different about this command that’s not true of any of the other ones. This command has something none of the other ones do. And that is it has a promise. Do you see it? Honor your father, and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God has given you.

Some of the other commandments have explanations, a few of them, two of them have threats. This is the only one with a promise. This is the only commandment with a promise of blessing built right into it. And it’s important to understand that this is a promise of blessing. This is God saying, “If you do this, I can bless you.” And I say that because it sounds almost like a threat, doesn’t it? You know, honor your mother and father so that you won’t die. Which really feels like honor your mother, and your father so they don’t have to kill you. Honor your mother and father so they don’t have to pull out that clause from the parenting manual that says, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it.” Right? It sounds a little bit like a threat, but it’s not a threat. It’s a blessing. It’s actually a promise of a direct blessing from God because of righteousness.

See, it’s interesting that the Bible very clearly teaches, the Bible teaches that long life is a possible blessing of righteousness. And I say possible blessing because it’s not like a vending machine, okay. It’s not like well, if I do these things, then I automatically live for a long time. No, that’s not the case. There are certainly people who are not righteous who have long lives and there are people who are righteous who have short ones, okay? This is not a promise that if you do this, you’ll always receive this. But what it is is…I got that right. It is is…what it is, is a promise that God can’t bless you with long life and he won’t bless you with long life if you’re not willing to do this. God can’t offer that blessing. And understand that it is a promise of blessing. Again, this idea of long life it’s clear throughout Scripture that this is one of the tools in God’s blessing arsenal.

Proverbs 16:31 says, Gray hair, that’s a sign of old age, right? Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained in the way of righteousness.” How do you get there? By living righteously, by obeying God. When he was installing Solomon as King of Israel after his father David, God said this to Solomon, “And if you walk in obedience to me and you keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” It’s a possible blessing by God, it’s not a threat. It’s a blessing. But and I think that’s really important to understand, it’s also a condition of blessing. It’s a condition of blessing, the command to honor our parents is a condition of God’s blessing. God’s saying, “Hey, if you don’t learn to do this, I can’t give you long life.” And it’s not because he’s unable to. But it’s because there’s something about honoring our mother and father that allows God to bless us with long life. And if we don’t do it, he goes, “I can’t trust you with long life.” The implication is if you don’t do this, and I gave you a long life, the damage that you would cause is so great, I can’t afford…I can’t do that to the world. I can’t do that to people around you.

There’s something about honoring our mother and father, that allows God to bless us with the possibility of long life because he says, “You’re gonna do something with that long life that’s worth doing. You’re gonna bless rather than curse, you’re going to be a blessing rather than a problem.” So there’s a promise of blessing here, but it’s also a condition of that promise. And the question we need to ask is why? Well, what is it about honoring our mother and our father that would allow God to trust us with long life, to bless us in that way? What is it about our relationship with our parents that so deeply affects our relationship with God? Well, I think the answer is this. Honoring our parents is where we first learned to experience the power of submission. Honoring our parents is where we first learn to experience the power of submission. Honoring our parents is we first learned to submit to somebody else’s authority but our own. And in doing that, we begin to actually experience the power that comes from submission.

So honoring our parents is our first step in experiencing the power of submission. And by the way, I know that the concept of the power of submission feels like an oxymoron, right? It feels like it belongs in the same category with jumbo shrimp, or a minor disaster, or controlled chaos. It feels like those two words don’t go together, power and submission, they don’t go together. Because in our culture, we tend to see submission as happening either because you lack power or because you’re in the process of losing it. We think people who submit either lack power or they’re losing that power. But that’s not the way the Bible teaches submission. According to the Bible, submission is actually power set free from enslavement to selfishness. That’s how the Bible teaches submission. Its power set free from enslavement to selfishness.

So it’s actually not about having less power, or losing power, it’s actually about gaining power. But that only happens when we shake off the chains, the bondage that our power has to selfishness. I mean, let’s just talk about the life of Jesus for a second. I don’t think anybody who knows anything about Jesus would claim that Jesus didn’t have power, right? I mean, he walked on water. He told storms to chill out and they did. He told blind people to open their eyes and they saw. He called dead people out of graves and they came. Demons cowered in fear before him, kings were fascinated by him and wanted to spend time with him. Jesus had all the power. But check out this description of Jesus, in Hebrews 5:7, “During the days of Jesus’s life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one, to God, who could save him from death. And he was heard because of his reverent submission. It’s a fascinating statement. He was heard because of his reverent submission.

The implication is that the resurrection happens because of his reverent submission. In other words, Jesus’s submission didn’t make him less powerful. It actually made him more powerful. It gave his prayers more power. Well, we see the same thing in Philippians chapter 2. You might even read that this afternoon, it’s a very interesting thing to think about and to meditate on. We’re told that we’re supposed to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who being in the very nature of God, he was God in the flesh, did not consider equality with God something to be held on to, but he emptied himself and became obedient, submissive to his Father, submissive to death, even death on a cross. All the power in submission. And because of that, Paul goes on to say in Philippians 2, “He was given the name above every other name.” That’s power. That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

His submission didn’t mean a loss or a lack of power, it actually meant more power. Why? Because power set free from selfishness is greater power. But see here’s the problem for us. Here’s the problem. Our default setting is power enslaved to selfishness. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, took that first step into sin and selfishness, we’re born with our power enslaved to selfishness, in bondage to selfishness. And by the way, let’s just be really clear about this, you have power, do you understand that? You have incredible power; God gave it to us so that we could do what he created us to do. We were made as God’s image, we were made to represent God in creation, we were made to extend God’s influence into every corner of the creation that he’s built. And to do that, he gave us tremendous power. You see it all the way back on the very first page of Scripture. When God describes human beings, he says this, “God blessed them and he said to them, Be fruitful, and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky, and over every creature that moves on the ground.” You understand those are power words, right? Subdue, that’s a power word, rule, that’s a power word. God delegated us tremendous power. The problem is that power that God gave us is now enslaved to selfishness. We use that power not to accomplish his purposes, but to accomplish our small, sinful, selfish purposes. Our power is in bondage.

And here’s two problems with power enslaved to selfish. Number one, power enslaved to selfishness produces pain. The power that we have enslaved to our selfish desires actually creates pain in the world around us. And that’s the reason many of you are struggling with the idea of honoring their mother and father. Because you experienced that you grew up in a home where the power that they had over you produced pain in your life. It’s the reason so many of our marriages are a mess. It’s because we have power, but it’s enslaved to selfishness. And so we’re biting and sniping at each other, trying to get what we want out of it and our marriages suffer. It’s the reason our politics is so divided. It’s the reason the world is such a mess because power enslaved to selfishness produces pain. But and this is also important to understand, power enslaved to selfishness reduces power. It produces pain, but it also reduces power, it causes a loss of power, we are not as powerful as we were created to be because our power is enslaved to selfish. I mean, just think in just very everyday circumstances, right? If you have a driver’s license, and I know a lot of us have driver’s license, if you have a car, take a look at your car and look at the speedometer.

Notice, that puppy goes up to 160. You have the power to drive 160 miles an hour, you have the power to drive 160 miles an hour through a school zone. Like if you’re running late for something, you have the power to drive 160 miles an hour through an active school zone, you have that power, but if you do it, you will not have that power for long, right? Like you’re gonna lose the license, you might lose your freedom for a while, right? See what happens in just the everyday realm is that the use of power for selfish purposes ultimately tends to lead to a reduction in that power and it happens in the spiritual realm as well. The more we use our power for sinful selfish purposes, the more God restricts that power and the influence that we have. Okay, but what’s the solution to that if that’s our default setting? What’s our solution to that?

Well, on one level, the only lasting solution is the Gospel. It’s the good news that God’s power is not enslaved by selfishness. God uses his power for our benefit, to bless us, to give us what we need to experience life as he intended it. God’s power is not enslaved to selfish. And God’s love for us is so deep that he sent his only Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the price of our sin. God’s power is not enslaved to selfishness. And neither is Jesus’s. I mean, Jesus came and he said, “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Jesus went to the cross; his power was not enslaved to selfishness. He died on the cross for us, and three days later, he was raised from the dead and he offers us salvation, offers us forgiveness of sins, an eternal relationship with God, all by faith and what he’s done for us. But here’s the thing, that Gospel and the hope of the Gospel, we can only take hold of the hope of the Gospel by an act of submission. You see that? To take hold of the hope of the Gospel we have to come to a moment in our lives where we say to God, “I get it. I’ve done it wrong at this point, but I get it, you’re God, and I’m not and that’s the way it should be.” That’s how we take hold of the Gospel, or the hope of the Gospel. It’s an act of submission.

And as followers of Jesus, it’s a daily act of submission that allows us to experience all the power that comes from submitting to God, but we have to do it constantly. At least I do, I have to constantly throughout the day go, “Right, right. I’m sorry, I got it wrong again. Sorry, God, I get it. Yes, your God, and I’m not and that’s the way it should be.” It’s that constant act of submission that allows us to take hold of the hope of the Gospel, but also to experience the power of the Gospel and the power of God in our day to day lives. But our default setting isn’t submission. Our default setting is all our power enslaved to selfish, so how on earth do we get to that moment where we can submit to God and take hold of the hope of the Gospel? How do we get to the point where we can daily submit to God and experience the power of the Gospel in our lives? And the answer is that’s why the fifth commandment’s there. The fifth commandment is there to get you started, to get you to that place where you can make that pivotal decision, and you can make those regular ongoing decisions to experience all the good, and the joy that God has for you. The fifth commandment is there to teach you how to do it. Really, here’s the thing, honoring our parents enables us to experience the power of submitting to God. It’s in our relationship with our parents that we learn to unshackle our power from the bondage itself, so even just a little bit. But it sets the stage for doing it then with other authorities in our life, with teachers, and coaches, and bosses, and governments. And then ultimately with God.

And so that’s the reason the fifth commandment is there. And that’s the reason the fifth commandment is primarily about your relationship with God, because honoring our parents enables us to experience the power of submitting to God. It’s where we learn how to do it. And so here’s really good news. That when we choose to honor our mother and our father, what we’re actually doing is we’re transforming our relationship with God. What we’re actually doing is we’re taking on the discipline and the practice of freeing our power from selfishness. And the good that comes into our lives when we’re able to do that is so powerful. And I wanna talk a little bit about what it looks like to honor our mother and our father or to honor authorities in our life. But before I do that, I just wanna acknowledge that there’s some people listening to this message that it’s probably easier to figure out how to honor your mother, and your father, because you’re still living at home. And if you’re still living at home under their authority, it’s probably pretty easy to figure out what it looks like to honor them.

But some of you don’t live at home anymore, you’re not under your parents’ authority in the same way. And so you might be thinking, well, like, “Is there any benefit to me figuring how to honor my mother and my father?” And my answer is yes. Because at any stage of life, when we deliberately choose to obey this commandment, figure how to honor our mother and our father, we actually bring something powerful and transformative into our relationship with God. So even if you’re not living at home, under their authority, honoring your mother and father can be transformative in your experience of God. And some of you are in a place where you don’t even have living parents. And so you’re thinking, “Well, then how can I possibly practice this? And how can I experience that benefit, that transformation you’re talking about?” And my answer is, it’s not gonna be with parents anymore if you don’t have living parents, but it can be with other authorities. Because remember what we said that the commandments aren’t a finish line, they’re our first step. Well, we start with our parents, but then it moves up to teachers, to coaches, to bosses, to government, to God. And all along the way, the practice of honoring those who have authority over us actually enables us to experience more and more the power that comes from submitting to God.

And so we can do what the Apostle Paul said, I’m not crazy about it. I really wish he hadn’t said this. Romans 13:1, Paul said, “Let everyone be subject, submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established and the authorities that exist have been established by God.” Anybody comfortable with that? Of course not. And it raises questions and like, “How can that be?” And I’ve heard people go, “Well, Paul would not have written that if he saw the governments we have today.” And I’m like, “Well, yeah, I don’t know if he would or not, but I can tell you that the governments he was talking about were worse. When you look at the ancient world and what kings and governors did, we don’t have it worse. Now, listen, I’m not saying that that means all government authorities are righteous, holy, godly people. And I’m not saying that we cannot or should not use our influence, our votes to get ungodly, unrighteous people out of office. We absolutely should do that. But while they’re in office, we have to recognize that this verse says, “There is no authority except that which God has established.”

And so the reality is that even in the way that we deal with governing authorities, and maybe their bosses, maybe they are government officials, the way that we deal with governing authorities actually is just another way to apply this concept of learning the power of submission. And so I think no matter where you are in life, whether you’re at home with parents, or you’re out of the home and your parents are somewhere else, or you don’t even have living parents, we’re still called to and we’re given the hope that comes from learning to submit. Learning to honor. Okay, so what does it look like to honor? Our parents in particular, or maybe authorities depending on your situation in life? Well, here’s the thing. The general principle is this, honoring authorities enables us to experience the power of submitting to God. Okay, that’s the ultimate goal, right? That when we honor authorities, it allows us to experience the power of submitting to God. Okay, so how do we do it?

What does it look like? One of the first things we can do is this, we can give weight to their words. The Hebrew word for honor literally is the Hebrew word for heavy, so to honor somebody is to give weight to them. And practically speaking, what that often looks like, it means that we give weight to their words. We consider that their words have substance, they have significance. Now, understand that giving weight to their words looks different in each stage of relating to our parents, okay. And my friend, Scott Ridout has a great way of thinking about stages of parenting. So the first stage is just you’re caregivers. The second stage is you’re cops, okay? The third stage is you’re coaches. The fourth stage is you’re consultants. And then the fifth stage is you become care receivers. And each of those stages probably has a different way of thinking about what it looks like to give weight to their words. So if you’re in the care receiving stage, to give weight to your parents’ words, is to obey them, okay? It’s to do what they say. I think the same thing is true in that cop stage, we give weight to our parents’ words by obeying them at that stage.

Now, obviously, if they’re telling us to do something that goes against what God says, then we go with God, and not our parents. But apart from that, we don’t go, “Well, I don’t like that. That’s not the way I’d prefer to do it. I really wish we could do it…” No, no, we obey them. That’s how we give weight to their words. Now, when we move into the coach phase, it looks a little bit different. Because if parents are doing this right in the coach phase, it’s no longer just issuing commands. It’s beginning to actually coach towards success. It’s stepping and go, “Hey, I see this and I wanna caution you about this, or I see this and I’m really proud of you. And I wanna encourage you to lean into that, okay.” It’s often unsolicited, but it’s more counsel than it is command.

And at that stage then it changes. If you’re in that stage with your parents, then what it looks like to give weight to their words is to listen. Not just blow it off, not to roll our eyes, but to listen, and to understand that they may know something that we don’t know, because they’ve been around longer than we have. And they may have earned some wisdom. And so we listen to what they have to say. That’s how we give weight to their words. And then when you move into the consultant phase, the big difference between coaching and consulting is coaches can just step in and go, “I need to give you this advice.” Consultants need to be asked. My kids are one of them’s fully in the consulting stage. And one of them’s kind of in-between coaching and consulting. And what happens in that stage is like, I don’t offer unsolicited advice nearly as much. I wait to be asked, but my kids regularly honor me by asking for advice. That’s how we do it in that stage, we ask for advice. We take the initiative to go, “Hey, here’s what I’m dealing with. Have you ever faced that? Or what was it like when you did that? And what should I be thinking about? And what am I missing? And I’m thinking about doing this, what do you think?” My kids do that and it’s really profoundly honoring. It’s humbling too to have grown kids who ask for advice, but I feel honored in that. They’re giving weight to my words, but it looks like asking for that advice.

And then we move into that last phase, the care receiving phase, and this is maybe one of the hardest phases. And I know many of you are in this phase right now. And it’s difficult, especially when you’re dealing with parents at that stage that are struggling with dementia. And maybe they want things that you can’t give them. But I wanna suggest to you that in that phase one of the ways we give weight to their words is we ask their desires; we ask what they want. And again you may not be able to give it. You know, the 95-year-old who has dementia but insists they wanna live alone and continue driving their car and you’re like, “But you can’t see. Like I can’t necessarily give you that.” But asking the very question like what do you want? Or you wanna continue to live in and continue to drive? Why is that? And understanding what’s going on there.

And again, you may not be able to give into it. But it’s so important that at that stage that even though we’ve kind of flip-flopped that when we were kids, they cared for us and now they’re adults, and we’re giving care, but they’re not kids, they’re not children. And when we treat them like children, we disrespect them, when we treat them like children, we dishonor them, and we fail to do what God’s told us to do. And so even if it’s as simple as just asking their desires, we wanna give weight to their words even in that stage. So that’s one of the things we can do. We can give way to the words. And if you don’t have parents, you can think well, what does this mean in terms of my boss, or my other government officials or these kinds of things? What does it mean to give weight to their words?

Another thing we can do is we can express gratefulness for what they’ve given. We can express gratefulness for what they’ve given. Even the worst parents, at the very least have given you life. It’s a gift of God through them. You can thank them for that. If you can’t thank them for anything else, at least you can thank them for that. But the chances are that even really bad parents, there’s a few other things along the way that they fed you, they clothed you, they sheltered you, maybe every now and then they did something right that you remember, because it was the star shinning in the darkness. That wasn’t what it normally was like, but you can still remember that and you can thank them for that thing. And many of us, honestly, we had fantastic parents, and the list of things that we should be grateful for is extremely long. Sometimes it just goes unvoiced, it goes unsaid. And in that way, we fail to honor them.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got on the day before our wedding, our pastor told Coletta and I, “You should sit down with your mom and your dad, and you should tell them the things that you’re thankful for. As you’re going into this new stage, like make the transition with gratitude.” That is so powerful, I’m so glad. We can continue to do that and give honor to our parents in that way. Same thing with other authorities in our lives, we can be grateful for certain things that we have experienced that are good even when we have lots of stuff that we disagree with or that we struggle with. But there may be one or two moments that gratefulness is good for us. It’s good for us.

The third thing we can do is we can help them feel like they’re not forgotten. Help them feel like they’re not forgotten. A simple phone call, a visit, some of them, you can even text. I can’t text my dad, he doesn’t text. But my mom texts, she doesn’t understand texting. She sends pages and pages of text. Like I look at it, my thumbs are tired just reading it. I’m like, “How did you even do that?” But I love that I can kind of stay in an ongoing conversation with her. I love it with my kids. If they’re out of the house, we text usually one or two times a day at least. And there’s that point of connection, and it helps to feel like I’m not forgotten. We can help our parents feel like they’re not forgotten. And in that way we honor them.

The fourth thing that I would suggest is this, we can forgive them for their failures. And I know this one’s hard. For many people, those failures are deep. And the wounds are profound. But we can forgive them for their failures, not because they deserve it. Not necessarily because they even asked for it. But because it’s what God calls us to do, and it sets us free. And let’s be honest, how many of us are parents? If you’re online, go ahead and type in if you’re parent, okay, keep your hands up and keep them up if you’re a perfect parent, right? People are like, “Get that hand down,” because we know we’re not, right? We’re not perfect parents. Yeah, our parents screwed us up. And we swore we would never screw up our kids the way they screwed us up. And if you’re good, you didn’t, you invented new ways. You invented new ways to mess your kids up, right? I did.

None of us are perfect parents. And so maybe we can summon a little forgiveness in our hearts. And if that’s not enough to summon it, then maybe we recognize that the Bible talks a lot about the danger of unforgiveness. In fact, we’re told that if we’re unwilling to forgive others, then God withholds forgiveness from us. It crimps the hose of the flow of God’s grace and power into our lives. And so we can honor our parents by forgiving them. Again, not because they’re worthy of it. Maybe not even because they asked for it. But because we need it. And it’s what God calls us to do. And in doing it, we’re set free from enslavement to selfishness, or anger, or bitterness, or resentment, and free to experience more of what God has for us.

So let me just give you five questions to wrestle with. The first one very simply is how can I give weight to my parents’ words in the stage that we’re in? By the way, you can always get these notes and these questions in the Mission Hills app. Just got Message Notes or Message Questions. But how can you give weight to your parents’ words at whatever stage you’re in? That’s one thing to think through.

Another one is this? How can I express gratefulness for what they’ve given? What are those good things that you can be grateful for? Third question is what’s one thing I can do this week to help them feel that they’re not forgotten? What’s the one thing you can do this week? Fourth question, have I really forgiven them for their failures? And I know this is the hard one. But have I really forgiven them for their failures? And last, and here’s the reason I asked this question before I give it to you. What we know is that our relationship with our parents often becomes a lens through which we engage in our relationship with God.

It’s the reason some people struggle to see God as a good and loving Father because they didn’t have a good and loving father. Some of us can easily see God that way because we were blessed by a good and loving father, but the lens that we look at our parents with often is the lens that we look at God with. And so sometimes we have to take those steps to change that lens. And so I encourage you to wrestle with this question, you and the Holy Spirit, what have I transferred from my relationship with my parents to my relationship with God? How do you see God through the lens of your relationship with your parents, and specifically, and maybe in some ways that aren’t so healthy and aren’t true, of what Scripture teaches us about who God is, as opposed to our parents? Let’s pray about this, would you join me?

God, thank you for this word. And it’s not an easy one. But Lord, we recognize how deeply selfish we are, and how much the power that you’ve given us has enslaved that selfishness. And so, Lord, we stand together, and we give you thanks for this command, to learn, to set that power free from selfishness. It begins in our relationship with our parents, and it moves on ultimately so that we can take hold of the hope of the Gospel and the power of you in our lives. Lord, we confess that we have not always honored our parents. And in that way, we’ve actually hurt our relationship with you. And so we ask for strength through your Holy Spirit to figure out what it looks like in different ways to begin obeying this command and experiencing a deeper, intimate relationship with you. And as followers of Jesus, God, we pray, those that are listening to this message now that don’t know you as Father and they don’t have that relationship with you.

And if that’s you, I can just speak to you for a moment. My hope is that if nothing else today, what you heard is that God loves you. And that his power isn’t enslaved to selfishness. In fact, he used his power, he sent his own Son Jesus to die on the cross for you, Jesus’s power wasn’t enslaved to selfishness, he died on the cross to pay the price for all of your wrong, all of your sin. And he rose from the dead and he offers you forgiveness of sins, relationship with God, and eternal life, simply by putting your trust, by submitting to him, and putting your trust in him. And if you’ve never done that, today’s the day, today’s the day to take that incredibly important step of submitting to God, and here’s how you do it just right here right now and have this conversation with God in your heart, say this with me:

God, I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. I get it. You’re God, and I’m not. But that’s not how I’ve been living. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. Jesus, I believe you rose from the dead. I understand you’re offering me forgiveness, a relationship with God, and eternal life. I’m ready to submit to you. I’m ready to put my trust in you. Jesus, I’m gonna follow you from here on out. Amen.

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