John Wen, San Francisco mission trip message, Mother’s day 2022
“Honor your father and mother”, this is the first commandment with a promise. (Eph 6:2)
Filial piety means honor
The word filial piety in the Chinese translation of the scriptures is honor1 in the original Greek, and the two words have different meanings. Children’s honor to their parents is to respect them as precious, proud and cherished, and to thank them for their upbringing.
Filial Piety 2 is first used in I Tim 5:4, “If a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice “filial piety” in their own homes, and repay the kindness of their parents, for this is acceptable before God. The filial piety in the same original text is also what Paul said about the Athenian worship of the “unknown god”, worshiping but not revering. (Acts 17:23) However, unlike the worship of idols, Paul in the previous verse speaks of honoring the true widow. (I Tim 5:3)
When the Chinese say that their children should pay “filial piety” to their parents, they will unconsciously turn towards the practice of worship, just like the Athenian worship of the gods. The Bible says that children should honor their parents rather than worship of them with filial piety. Parents are God-ordained identities, and children honor their parents not because of their perfection or how well they do, but because of the position that God has given them. And as children, they are more honored by thanking their parents for their nurturing grace.
From filial piety to filial obedience
In the past Chinese children are often taught “filial piety” to their parents, and they should be obedient to their parents in addition to being like offerings to the gods. The Bible also teaches that children should obey their parents in the Lord, which is right. However, the command of parents and the obedience of children are in the Lord. Because of the inherent sin, parents and children will always sometimes deviate from the way of the Lord, and sometimes they may unknowingly despise their children because they demand too much from their children. The Bible teaches parents to be careful not to frustrate their children of ambition. The Lord teaches parents to bring up their children according to His teaching and admonition. (Eph 6:1-4) And children should not despise them because their parents are not or do not do well, but should honor them with the fear of Christ3 as they are ordained by God, and obey them.
Obedience requires respect
As children of God, although they were resurrected in the spirit with Christ Jesus and seated together in the heavens, they still have to live in a sin-stained world today. In order to do the good that God has prepared for them, in addition to walking in love (Eph 2:10), they must live in harmony in the fear of God. However, churches are similar in structure to families and companies, but they operate philosophically and have different keys to success.
Under the structure of the operation of the church, there are different levels of positions, and the congregation must fear God and respect4 the members who serve in different positions by the authority of the Lord. (Eph 4:11) And the leading co-workers should serve the congregation humbly like servants, so the congregation is easy to obey them. And in the mutual obedience of co-workers and the congregation, they will see others as more important than themselves (Phil 2:3), and can live in harmony (Eph 5:21).
The family is also has the same foundation of the church on the love and sovereignty of God, but like the corporation, its structure does not function like the church. The operation of families and companies is fundamentally based on being led by to top-to-down obedience, not by mutual obedience. This is due to the innate sin that leads to people’s natural disobedience. However, when members of the family respect each other in the fear of God, they can overcome the power of sin to obedience and make the home function smoothly, otherwise, they may not even function. This is that obedience in the home requires mutual respect between parents and children, while respect in the church requires mutual submission among the members. (Eph 5:21-6:9)
Honor parents to get blessed
The virtues of Chinese children from filial piety to filial piety to their parents are not on the same level as the Bible teaches children to honor their parents. The Bible says that children’s honor to their parents lies in their respect for the Lord’s ordination of them as parents and their gratitude for their fertility, not because they are not or do not do well.
The traditional children are filial to their parents, but they unconsciously place their parents on the level of worshipping majestic gods. As a result, children may be disappointed with their parents’ fault or not doing well. On the other hand, parents will inevitably feel superior, and they may be strict with children or despise them.
God gave the commandment to children to honor their parents because of the parents whom He ordained them, not because of how they did it; it was the first commandment with promise, but cursed is the one who despised parents (Deut. 27:16), and whoever curses his parents shall put him to death (Exodus 21:17, Matt 15:4). Because of the grace of the Lord’s forgiveness of sins, if people confess their sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive their sins and cleanse them of all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) The contempt and cursing of parents as children is also covered by the grace of the Lord, and cursing and execution will be avoided.
However, children should not honor their parents as if they were gods, making them too dignified and always thinking they are. Parents accept the honor of their children, and the children are willing to obey because of the respect of their parents, and hence they are blessed with the harmonious coexistence of parents and children. (Eph 6:2)
- Honor: (GS #5091), Respect as valuable, proud and cherished
- Filial piety: (GS #2151), Worship of the gods; (GS #4376), Worship of God.
- Reverence: (GS #5401), Reverence for God out of great fear
- Respect: (GS #5399), Respect for people out of fear