I had a conversation with an elderly gent the other day and during the course of our discussion on life and contentment, he told me this story.

A working father rushed home after work one day to prepare dinner before he picked his children up from school. This labor of love he has been doing ever since he could remember. But on that day, when his children finally sat down to dinner, they said,

“Daddy, our teacher taught us how to say grace today.”

“Oh?” said the man, “So can you say grace for us tonight then?”

“Sure.” said the child, beaming; and he began to recite the following prayer.

“Thank You God for giving us such delicious food. If not for You, we would not have been able to enjoy what we have right now. Thank You. Amen.”

Then the old man ended off by saying, “If God is so great, let the children go out there on their own and see if God will cook and put food on the table for them.”

The story is innocent enough, and the misunderstanding, elementary enough. But I’ve heard this said so many times, coming from so many different people, from all walks of life, that I’m starting to get a little concerned.

You see, that there are that many ‘uninitiated’ out there mouthing this, it means that there must be even more Christians who think that God is a credit monger, demanding any and all credit for any and all things which they are given to enjoy.

Now while it is not wrong to say that all blessings come from God and all blessings originate from God, to think that God therefore wants to ‘cut out the middle man’ so much that he would go to the extent of turning us away from our parents, now that is just wrong. That could not be further from the truth. So today, I’d like to set the record straight, so that we can finally and truly understand the intent of our Father’s love for us.

God never said, ‘Do not credit your father and mother.’
In fact, this is what God has to say about fathers and mothers.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:16

Honor them, so that your days may be long upon the land which your God is giving you. Yes, there is no doubt that God knows that all that we have came from Him; but hey, He still wants us to honor our father and mother nonetheless. Does that sound like God is a credit monger?

In fact, so important is this commandment of exercising filial piety that Paul says this of it.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”” Ephesians 6:1-3

Not only is it right, it is the first; yes I say again, the first, commandment with promise. That’s something, isn’t it?

But didn’t God say, ‘so man shall leave his father and mother’?
Yes, he most certainly did. But this was what is written.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Man, you are to leave your father and mother only when you are to be joined to your wife. God does not want you to leave your father and mother on His account. And please, this is the context of this verse.

“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”” Genesis 2:18

It was the beginning of creation. There was literally only just one man walking around at that time. The concept of parenthood didn’t even exist yet. So God, when that verse was mentioned, was instituting the sacrament of marriage. And it wasn’t by accident that the concept of marriage was put in place before the idea of parenthood. But that’s another sermon for another day.

So if God still wants us to honor our parents and never wanted us to leave them for Him, how then do we reconcile that with the idea that all blessings come from God?

It’s simple really.

Our parents ARE the blessings that our Father gave us.
They are our geese the lay golden eggs only and exclusively just for us. They are the conduits through which His blessings flow. So really, when we teach our children to pray, there’s nothing wrong with teaching them this.

‘Thank You Father for blessing us with this food; and for blessing us with Mummy and Daddy who put food on the table and cook for us.’

Honor your father and mother, says your Father is heaven. And that is really what we should do.

So what about ancestral worship?
I probably shouldn’t open this Pandora’s Box but I’m asian, and ancestral worship is big in Asia, so it is worth discussing; and this is what God has to say about it.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything thatis in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Exodus 20:2-5

When you engage in what the world considers ‘ancestral worship’, ask yourself these questions;

1. Have your parents taken the place of God in your heart?
2. Are you ‘bowing down and worshiping them’?
3. Or are your actions born out of honor?

I think you know where I’m going with this. You see, Jesus said,

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

So you are offering incense on the ancestral altar. Are you doing it because you now believe that your ancestors are in control of your destiny? Is Jesus no longer your savior? Or is that action done because you love your dearly departed and would like to honor their memory in action?

Remember, child of God, your relationship with your Father in heaven is a personal one. And He sees past superficial actions, going straight to the heart of the matter, that is to say your heart, and where His place is in it. In fact, Jesus has this to say about actions.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Matthew 6:5

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6

So beloved, if you have been vexed, torn between your obligations toward God and toward your parents, vex no longer. There is no conflict. Your Father loves you. And because He loves you, He gave you your parents so that you may be blessed through them. So honor them in any way and form you deem fit. It is the right thing to do.

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