The Working Family Kids Who Respect
Leviticus 19:1 - 3
This past week I had the opportunity to go back to Alabama for a wedding, and I got the chance to spend a day with my mom. It was one of the few times since I graduated High School that it was just her and I visiting together. We had a really good visit, but I had this constant reminder going off in my brain the whole time.
I’m in my late 30’s, I have bought cars, bought houses, paid my own bills, and insurance. I am married and even have kids of my own. But every moment was a reminder that I am her baby boy. At Church, out shopping, and even when we went to a restaurant where I paid the bill, I was her kid. And while my mom did not treat me like a 5 year old, there was still this understanding that she is my parent and there are some things that I owe her because of who she is.
Now before we get too far into our topic this morning I know that there are some of you here this morning that were not as lucky as Trafton and Rylan are. Maybe your parents didn’t show you what it meant to be respected and expected you to respect others. Maybe you had parents that took pleasure in shaming and embarrassing you in front of others. Maybe you have a mom who cared more for the bottle in her hand than the child at her side. Or maybe you had a dad who left you and your family to find another family.
I know that every family is a dysfunctional family, we all just have different levels of dysfunction. And we may not be able to fix your past, but this morning I believe that we can make your future better. There is something holy about being a person that has the ability to be respectful. So while at first you might think that I am only talking to the under 18 crowd here this morning, actually I hope that this morning we can all find a mustard seed.
In our text that was read for us this morning from Leviticus 19:1-3 we see God talking about the necessity of respect. I hope you noticed that God told Moses to address; the entire assembly of Israel. That includes the grandparents, aunts and uncles, husbands and wives, moms and dads, and the kids.
I want you to notice that God used the pronoun, them. He said "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them." The neat thing about the word "them," is that it is an inclusive word. Tell them, include everyone in the message. They need to hear it; the grandparents, the moms and dads, aunts and uncles, the teenagers and even the children. I want them all to hear my word.
That sent a powerful message to the people in that day. Especially to the young people. God wanted them to know that they were a part of this community. You may have your own tribes or groups but you are still a part of this family. You still enjoy the benefits and you still have to shoulder some of the responsibility that comes with being an Israelite.
Young people have always wanted to pull away from the family. We see Jesus doing that when He was 12. Remember how He hung back from His family when they went to the temple? He was trying to figure out who He was. It's a normal thing for young people to do. They want some space to find the answers to questions like, "Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?"
The last thing they wanted to do was spend a lot of time with people they shared a last name with. But it was the job of the parents to keep them close. In Deuteronomy 6:20-25 we see a perfect example of this concept, kids pulling away, parents pulling toward. (Read Text)
In the future, when your son or daughter asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God commanded you?” Do you see what the son, the daughter asked? “What is the meaning of all these laws God gave you?” They are saying, “I don't see the relevance of all these rules for me. That's your stuff.”
God says that’s when the parents are to tell them “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders, He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land, The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God so that we might always prosper and be kept alive as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, that will be our righteousness.”
See how the parents respond? "We ... us ... our." The parent keeps using plural pronouns, words that keep the door open and keep drawing the kids back into the family back into the tribe. Kids have an important place in the family. God understood that. And just like the Israelites our children can enjoy the benefits of being in the family but we have to understand that we have to shoulder some of the responsibility that comes with being in the family as well.
So when God says to Moses, "Moses, I want you to gather everyone in Israel, all of them, and I have something I want you to tell them," He's sending the message that everyone is in this thing together.
And since we're all in it together, there are certain things ways we owe one another. Specifically God says in Leviticus 19:3, "Each of you must respect his mother and father."
Kids, ages 0-100 are supposed to respect. But what does it mean to respect? This morning I want to give you some practical things you can do to fulfill God's expectations of kids when it comes to respecting your mother and father.
First, Recognize their authority.
It's a bummer but it's true. Parents do have authority over their kids. The same Bible that tells us to be believe and be baptized also tells us in Ephesians 6:1, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." God expects you to recognize your parent's authority. That can be a pretty tough thing to do, especially when they discipline you. But there's a reason why parents use their authority that way. Let me show you another passage. Hebrews 12:7-11. (Read Text)
The Hebrew writer says that a parent disciplines a true son and that discipline brings respect. Now I’m not sure how you were disciplined growing up. I know that my parents used different forms of discipline, depending on the offense. There were times when I was enduring the discipline that it was not very pleasant, actually there were times that it was quite painful. But as I look back at my life I realize that the discipline I received as a child shaped me to be the man that I am today.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Hebrew writer says that discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those how have been trained by it. Discipline causes us to understand the consequences of our actions, and makes us pause and consider others before we act.
Now that I am on the other side, I realize that the most loving thing my parents ever did for me was discipline me. I know that’s hard to see sometimes, and I thought my parents lied to me when they said, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” but I promise you, it is harder to discipline someone you love than it is to be disciplined by them. Recognizing your parent's authority is the first way to respect them.
Secondly, Appreciate them.
Make sure they know they are valued. This may be hard to believe, but parents, and all adults, struggle with some of the same feelings of insecurity and inadequacy as you. There are times as a parent that I feel intimidated, embarrassed, and unloved; all parents do. But I can also tell you that nothing can lift a parent's self-esteem like a compliment from one of their children.
Write your dad a note and put it in his car so he'll find it in the morning when he goes to work. "Dad, I know you work hard every day. Thanks for all you do." Put a note somewhere so your mom will find it when you're not around. "Mom. Just wanted you to know that I was thinking about how much I loved you. You're the best." She'll cry. But they'll be good tears.
Next, Live a life of consideration and courtesy.
Rick and Bubba, have a syndicated morning radio show, and I was listening to them when I was back in Alabama last week. They made a comment that stuck in my head. They said, “We live in a time when common courtesy is not so common.” While that may be true in our world today it cannot be true among us. Courtesy has to be a defining characteristic of a child of God.
If the trash can is full, empty it without being asked. If the dog needs a walk, do it. Put your dirty underwear in the hamper instead of stuffing it under the bed. We always think love means doing something heroic, like pulling someone from a burning car. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says it’s harder than that. Love is kind. Love does the little things that make the day go better for someone else.
Then, Participate in family life.
Back in 1989, my mom and dad had this great idea that we would take a family vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and spend some time “making memories”. Needless to say Pigeon Forge is not the vacation destination a 10th grade guy would pick. To be honest I remember dreading being cooped up in a car and a small hotel room with a bunch of people who shared my last name. Houcks, Houcks, Houcks everywhere. I was sick of them before we even left. But in reality it was one of the best times we ever had. We went bungee jumping, indoor skydiving, and raced go-karts for hours.
I know you get sick of your family, too. But a part of respecting your parents means participating with them in family life. Helping with the chores. Eating meals together, playing games together. Arguing, laughing, crying, fussing, making up. Don't spend all your time with your face stuck in an iPad, TV, or computer. Engage with your family. You will be surprised how much you actually enjoy it when you get fully engaged.
Number Five, Exercise your power for good.
Right now some of you are thinking, "Power? I don't have any power! I'm a galley slave on this pirate ship they call a family." But maybe you have forgotten about how powerful you really are. You don't remember this, but you had it figured out when you were an infant. You learned that if you cried, your your parents would quickly come to see what was wrong. They'd pick you up, walk around with you, bounce you up and down, feed you. They'd do whatever it took to keep you from crying. A little later, you learned that if you threw something down on the floor, they'd pick it up and give it back. It was the first game you learned. You throw it down. They pick it up. You loved it.
Things haven't changed. You still have the power to affect the family system. You can affect change in your family for good or grumpy. If you show respect, guess what? You'll be respected. if you wake up in the morning determined to be civil at breakfast, they'll be civil. If you come home from school in a good mood, they’ll be in a good mood. Use the power you have for good.
Then, Communicate with them.
Typical conversation with a teenager. “How was your day at school?” “Fine.” "Did you learn anything interesting today?” “No.” "Did you talk to your friends?" “Yeah."
Now it would probably help if parents would ask more open ended questions. And it would help if your vocabulary consisted of more than “Fine ... No ... Yeah.” When parents ask questions, they aren't prying. They just want to talk. Talking is how they connect with you, they are really interested in you because you are part of the family.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the best way for you to get us off your backs is to think of something to talk about before you see us. Think of one story that happened during the day. Take your time telling it. Laugh a lot. Include what other people did and said. Talk about how you felt about it.
Better yet, after you tell them your pre-planned story, turn the tables and ask “So dad, tell me about your day. Make any big sales? Solve any world problems? Did you buy me a new convertible?” Communicating with your parents is one of the best ways to show you respect them. Because it signals that they have value.
Finally, Tell them you love them.
Your parents need to hear three words from you every day. I love you. I’ll tell you why. Your mom and dad have made a lot of sacrifices for you. Some parents have given up careers for their kids. They may work jobs they hate to keep you in the school you want to stay in. They may have turned down promotions so you could stay with your friends at school and church. Lots of parents do that. You should love them for that.
Sometimes, they lie awake at night and worry and pray and cry about you. Not because you've done something bad. Just because it's scary being a parent. There are so many things out there to hurt you and they are responsible for protecting you. Sometimes they come into your room at night when you are asleep. They just stand there and watch you breathe. And they pray silently that God will take care of you. You should love them for that.
You should love them because they sit in the stands at athletic events in the pouring rain and cheer for you when you are loosing 80-0. They go to middle school band programs and cheer for you, no matter how many times your clarinet squeaked during your performance. Your parents joyfully watch you perform, praying you won't get hurt, hoping you will succeed.
Then when you do get hurt they take you to the doctor and wince at the pain you feel. They'd take that pain in a heartbeat if they could. When you fail, their hearts break for you. They'd take that pain, too. In fact, every parent in this room would, without a moments hesitation, give his or her life for you. That's what parents do. That's what you'll do when you are parents. You should love them for that, and respect them for that.
After all that’s what a parent does. And that's what God did for all of us and we should love Him and respect Him for all He has done. 1 John 4:19 says We love because he first loved us.
Questions For You To Consider
Was the sermon today for our young people of for everyone?
Why would the need to respect your parents be relevant for someone who no longer lives with their parents?
Do you think that teenagers are they bent on rebellion or do they just need some direction?
Is every teenager rebellious?
Psalm 25:7, Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. (NLT) As kids get older, they may be taking steps toward independence, but don’t confuse that with rebellion. One is a natural progression; the other is in direct opposition to your authority. It is normal to move toward independence, but during the teen years, parents and teens make decisions that can affect the rest of their life
How does encouraging speech relate with respect?
How does modern TV hamper the respect we see in our families?
Why do you think our society is losing the quality of respect for others?
How does this translate into a lack of respect for parents? Or a lack of respect for God?
Does authority always demand respect? (Look at Romans 13:1-3, and Hebrews 13:17)
Can you show respect even when you disagree?