This is the first in a series of posts by Lissy Rienow that will address how, as teenagers, we can learn to be Christians with our families. Read the other posts here:
1. “Encouragement for Teens: Living for Christ at Home”
2. “Loving Your Neighbor Starts With Loving Your Siblings”
3. “Give Me Your Heart.”
4. “The Power of Servant Leadership.”
Do you ever feel like it is easier to be a Christian outside of your home than with your own family?
For example, why is it so much easier to forgive a friend who has hurt me than to forgive my own sister?
Why is it so much easier to show respect to my teachers at school than to my parents at home?
As teenagers growing up in Christian families, we’re often told: “Be a light in your community! Reach your friends for Christ! Show Christ’s love to others!”
While all of this is true and important, I believe that we frequently neglect to practice these things within our homes and with our families. The home is where our true character is revealed and the sad truth is that our families often get the worst in our personalities.
Living for Christ goes so much deeper than just being a “good person” at school or church. One of the greatest tests of spiritual maturity is our attitude and actions towards our own family. I will be the first to admit that this is a struggle for me! As a natural extrovert, I tend to give my energy and passion to things outside my home without thinking of how God may use me to minister and bless my family.
It is easy to talk about being a Christian at home but what steps can we take today to live it out? One of the most important yet challenging things can be found within the Ten Commandments. The fifth commandment says
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
Many of us are very familiar with this commandment and it is easy to dismiss its significance. For a long time, I thought that this command simply meant, “obey your parents.” In general, I try to obey my parents when they tell me to do something. Often I would think to myself, “Alright, I’m an obedient kid, I think I have this commandment in the bag.” However, a couple years ago God convicted me of the true meaning of the fifth commandment.
In Ephesians 6, we are told not simply to obey our parents, but to honor them. The word honor is a verb and defined as, “to hold in honor or high respect; revere”. Do I hold my parents in honor and high respect? Sure, I was obedient but was that really honoring them? It is possible to obey with a dishonoring heart behind it.
For example, if my parents asked me to clean my room (which they often do), and I obey – yet complain and grumble the whole time – did I honor them? I obeyed, but my heart was in the wrong place. That’s not honor! Honor combines both action and attitude.
Truly honoring your parents goes deeper than just obedience, we must pray and ask God to give us a heart of service and reverence towards the authority of our parents.
Moreover, this commandment is a lifelong charge. While we may not always have to obey our parents when we become adults, the call to honor them will be present our whole lives. Why not start practicing this life-long command now, so that we may learn for the future?
None of this is easy! I will be the first to acknowledge that this is very difficult and my headstrong nature often falls prey to dishonor, especially when I am at home. Yet God did not leave us to struggle alone and gives us the strength we need each and every day.
In these moments, I’ve found that a quick prayer can help turn my heart to the mission of honoring my parents. Often times it goes something like this,
“Lord, help me to honor and serve my parents today. Please give me a heart of service and respect towards them even when it is difficult. I cannot do this alone and I need your help to change the attitude of my heart towards my parents. Amen.”
The first step in living for Christ at home is learning to honor our parents in the Lord. Let’s commit to being men and women who excel in loving God in this manner.