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The Slow Death of Honor

In the classic movie, The Ten Commandments Moses goes down to oversee the work of the Hebrew slaves. He arrives to witness Joshua (his future assistant) just having saved an old Hebrew woman nearly crushed under a large block of stone they were moving.

Deaf to the pleas to spare the old woman, the taskmasters refused to halt the sled about to kill her. . So Joshua steps in, striking the Egyptian overseer, halting the work to spare the woman's life.

Moses, the Prince of Egypt, seeing what happened asks Joshua "Do you not know it is death to strike an Egyptian?"

"I know it," he responds.

"Yet you struck him. Why?"

"To save the old woman."

"What is she to you?"

"An old woman."

"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord." -Leviticus 19:32

"Honor your father and mother..."

I grew up in the 50's and 60's when we were expected to honor and respect our parents and older adults even if they were strangers. It wasn't anything I consciously thought about. But for the most part everyone just did it. It was a virtue baked into us a children, particularly Christian children.

But something has gone seriously wrong!

Rather than spending time documenting the obvious death of honor and respect for parents, older people and political leaders on Instagram and on Facebook, let's talk about what to do about it.

1. Self Examination

Do your children, or grandchildren see you honoring your own parents? Do you speak respectfully about them, if they are still alive do you regularly see them, talk with them, and care for them? Have you lived "honorably" toward them?

Perhaps your parents were not nice people, or have wounded you deeply. Then what? Nobody by an act of the will can "make" themselves respect someone who has not earned their respect. However, here's what we can do. We can either say whatever kind things we can about them, or remain silent except to our spouse, or therapist. However, if you've already spoken disrespectfully about your parents to your children, then what? Call them together, or in an email/text and explain that you were convicted that you've not always spoken honorably of your parents and apologize for that. You'll be teaching them a powerful lesson about both confession and honor.

2. Teach Your Children Well

Have you ever taught your children, or grandchildren specifically about honor? If not, consider asking them to memorize the 10 commandments? We offered $25 to any grandchild who memorized the 10 commandments. But beyond memorization, look for stories you can share with them about people acting honorably toward older adults.

3. Be an Example

If you have older parents, or even an older godly friend of your famiy's in a retirement home, have you visited with them recently? Better yet, have you taken along a child, grandchild, or a person you are mentoring? I've spoken to our grandchildren about opening doors for, or letting older adults move ahead of them as a sign of respect. When our family eats together buffet-style we encourage women, including young girls get their food first. Call me old fashioned but I have a practice of rising when a women, or older adult enters a room to meet with me and I encourage our grandchildren to do the same with non-family members.

For years I visited an old woman in a retirement home and served her communion (she just died in March). Almost every time I'd take along a younger Christian I'd been mentoring. I'm sad to say I never thought about taking our own teenage grandchildren until I was writing this blog. (But I will - I promise).

4. Invite your children/grandchildren to meet with older adults and learn from them

I hate fishing. But years ago I took our son Tyler fishing to Canada with my step-father Andy, one of the finest men I've ever known. In spite of swatting flies all day and getting sunburned it was a chance to spend hours exposing Tyler to how Christian men converse. It was an experience he'll never forget. (But the fish weren't biting!) For years, I've invited many of our grandchildren to meetings when I'd introduce them to thoughtful, spiritual adults, if for no other reason than picking up some time tested wisdom.

The social media culture our children and grandchildren are growing up in does not naturally celebrate honoring parents and older adults. It wont simply be "caught." It must be taught. That's our job!

"Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come." -Psalms 71:18

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