Even as a young adult, I was unusually devoted toward my parents. My devotion to them was, in part, a result of some particular suffering that led me to a deeper dependency on their care. A close friend often remarks, “I hope my children will have the same depth of family loyalty that you have.”
My parents have always cared well for me. But as we have grown older, that care has started to reverse direction. Now I care for them. I certainly cannot take credit or claim that this desire to care for my parents came to me randomly. Instead, I see God’s sovereign hand at work, placing me in a position in which I can care for those who have cared so well for me. That context makes it easy to understand that caring for parents is not merely a choice of personal will or conviction based upon circumstance. Rather, it is a Spirit-led calling I believe God would ask each Christian to consider.
If God planned for my parents to be mine, then isn’t caring for them a divine responsibility?
Here are three passages where Scripture and caring for parents intersect:
1. God preordained them as yours.
Throughout Scripture, family lineage is how God worked not only to bring about the incarnation of Jesus, but also to bring into life many spiritual leaders of various tribes and family lines. It is fascinating to realize God’s sovereign plan to bring redemption to the world had such a strong genetic link. God could have used any method to bring redemption to the world, but He chose to use this detailed structure of DNA. Families were a part of His preordained plan.
In other words, God preordained you to have the parents you have. We can safely conclude that our genetic makeup is also not merely random. If God planned for my parents to be mine, then isn’t caring for them a divine responsibility? Instead of assuming, let’s go to Scripture. One of the best examples of caring for a parent is the beautiful picture Jesus gives in the midst of His deepest suffering on the cross.
2. Jesus gave us an example to follow.
Even while Jesus endured the weight of the sins of the world on the cross, he loved His mother well by ensuring her future care in His absence. John 19:26-27 says,
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”
Most children don’t think of caring for their parents until they are too old to care for themselves, which under normal circumstances doesn’t tend to happen until their parents are in their 60s or beyond. Let me remind you that Jesus was only around 33 years of age when he was crucified, but he took the command to honor mother and father from Exodus 20:12 very seriously.
3. Caring for your parents is a way of loving God.
In Matthew 19:18-19, Jesus is talking to a man about eternal life and takes the opportunity to tie loving your neighbor as yourself to honoring parents. If the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 37-38), we can conclude that when we honor our parents, we honor God’s greatest commandment. In other words, caring for parents is a form of not only loving others as ourselves, but also loving God.
No matter what station of life you’re in, consider how you too can honor, care for and love your parents, regardless of their age.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kathryn and her husband, Chris, live in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. on Kathryn’s family’s 100-year-old farm next to her parents. She and her parents have been working on the family farm (@jarmonfarm) the past several years to restore it with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and, soon to be added, chickens and cows. It is their true joy to honor their parents however God plans.