Kids Who Respect
Leviticus 19:1 - 3
My parents bought the house two doors down from them and are in the process of flipping it. The plan is that I will drive up to Huntsville a few times a month to help them out a little bit. There are lots of reasons why I would make that drive, but the main reason for trip is not so that I can swing a sledge hammer or use my chop saw. The main reason for the trip is to spend some time with my mom and dad. But it has given me more than just the opportunity to talk, it has also reminded me of a few things.
I’m in my mid 40’s, I have bought cars, bought houses, paid my own bills, and insurance. I am married and have kids of my own. I know it’s hard to believe, but I am actually an adult. And yet when I am with my parents, I am reminded that I am their baby boy. When we are out shopping for paint, or working in the house, or even when we go to a restaurant and I pick up the bill, I’m still their kid. Not because they treat me like a 5 year old, but there is this general sense that they are my parents and there are some things that go along with that relationship because of who they are.
Before we get too far into our topic this morning I want to acknowledge that not every parent did a good job loving and molding their children. Maybe your parents didn’t show you what it meant to be respected and or loved. Maybe your parents 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 a dad who left you and your family to find another family. If that has been your experience, then my heart breaks for you.
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 since this is Senior Sunday I am only talking to the under 18 crowd; actually I hope that this morning we can all find a mustard seed.
Our text this morning comes from Leviticus 19:1-3. In the text God is talking about the necessity of respect. Did 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 all inclusive word. Tell them, include everyone in the message. They all 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 is such a powerful message for the Children of Israel, especially 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 from belonging to this family.
This generation of young people think that they are the first that wanted to to pull away from the family. They forget that Jesus did the same thing 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 normal for young people to 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.
In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “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–great and terrible–upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers. 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, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.
I love what God says in the 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? I get that, here we find the sons and daughters asking, what is the meaning of all these laws God gave you? God knows children always try to separate from their parents. They are saying, I don't see the relevance of all these rules for me. That's your stuff.
So God reconciles the family. 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.
The kids say you, and 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 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.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11
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 the same feelings of insecurity and inadequacy as teenagers. There are times as a parent that I feel intimidated, embarrassed, and like I have no idea what I am doing; all parents do. And parents have gotten pretty good a shaming one another in an effort to make themselves feel better. Put a picture of a family meal at your favorite restaurant and someone responds, my children only eat all organic vegetables. Put a video of your kids playing in the front yard and someone will wonder if you want your kids to die when a log truck comes barreling out of control down your street hitting everything in your front yard. That’s parent shaming at it’s finest.
So let me let you in on a little secret, nothing can lift a parent's self-esteem like a compliment from one of their children. Write your dad a note that says, Dad I know you work hard every day. Thanks for all you do, and put it in his car so he'll find it in the morning when he goes to work. Put a note on your moms pillow that says, Mom I 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.
Rose N. Dolinski wrote in her book, Words That Matter, “We live in a time when common courtesy is not so common.” That phrase has really stuck in my head. 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 was not the vacation destination a 10th grade Jeremy would have picked. 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. There were Houcks everywhere and 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 iPhone, TV, or playing Fortnite. 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 a baby. You learned that if you cried, your your parents would rush in to see what was wrong. They'd pick you up, 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, they didn’t.
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 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.
The typical conversation with a teenager sounds like: How was your day at school? Fine. Did you learn anything interesting today? No. Did you talk to your friends? Yeah. Thanks, good talk!
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 those three words from you every day. I know you don’t understand, but 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 just so you don’t have to move schools or neighborhoods. 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. We love you you because God showed us what it is to love, and we are doing our best to show you how to love. We understand that we are facing a difficult battle, but we also fully believe that the battle has already been won, because God has already gone before us and won the battle.
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?