“There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation – oh how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” (Proverbs 30:11-13)

Sadly, our generation mirrors many of the characteristics of a generation that does not honor and bless its parents. Many of us are indeed “pure in our own eyes,” yet remain rebellious to the very people YHWH specifically told us to honor. How this must grieve our Father’s heart to see our families falling apart.

In recent years, as I became serious about studying YHWH’s Word, my need for instruction in the area of honoring my parents became very evident. I wish to share with you a testimony of the Father’s faithfulness to my family.

The time in my life that I found it most difficult to honor my parents came when they decided to home school me and my three younger brothers. I was twelve years old, and this was also when we, as a family, were making the transition from being perfectly normal Baptist Christians to Torah-honoring, Messianic Israelites. Those were confusing times, and I must admit that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with all the changes we were making. I didn’t truly honor and trust my parents; in fact, I quite honestly believed they simply delighted in aggravating me by making our family as weird as they possibly could!

Fortunately, my parents did not give up on me. Although I’m sure it wasn’t easy, they remained patient and loving while explaining why they believed YHWH had called us to a different walk. It was during this time that I believe the Father instilled in me a great respect for my parents and a desire to seek Him as they did. Eventually, I began to grasp the error of the lifestyle I was clinging to, and began to see the beauty and blessing that is found when we lay our lives before our Creator and allow Him to guide us in the ways of His Kingdom.

As children, I’ve found that we’re placed under the authority and protection of our parents for many reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that they hold a special calling from YHWH to teach us the commandments and provide an example for us to follow. As I write this, I am convicted of the many times I’ve chosen not to take advantage of following my parents’ example and instead went my own way. Yet I’ve found there is hope and renewal in repentance.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Yeshua the Messiah (Phillipians 1:6).

What a wonderful promise that is! We can certainly apply it to the subject of honoring our parents. If we come before YHWH with a repentant heart and a desire to please Him in the future, He is faithful to change us by teaching us how to truly honor our parents. Let’s be a generation that honors and blesses our parents and brings glory to our Father in Heaven!

“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and amen.” (Psalm 72:18-19)

Do you honor your parents too?

“Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your God, gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Kibud Av Va’em is the Hebrew phrase that encompasses everything that “honor your father and mother” means. As with many Hebrew phrases quoted from the Torah, it means so much more than its face value. It is also a requirement that applies to all of us – no exceptions.

Because it permeates our entire lives, its meaning and specifications change as we mature. When we are young living in our parents’ home, the meaning is somewhat basic: be obedient. The best way to honor our parents is to listen to what they say, and follow their instructions for what we can and cannot do.

When we reach adolescence, the meaning of Kibud Av Va’em changes a bit. While we should still be obedient to what our parents tell us to do, we also have to learn how to interact with them. A new dynamic is introduced in our relationship – we are beginning to approach adulthood and take on the roles and responsibilities that accompany this transition. However, we must temper this changing time with the fact that our parents are still our parents – we do not become their equals just because we begin to mature.

Adulthood brings with it a whole new set of issues. The age difference between twenty and forty-five seems much less significant than the difference between ten and thirty-five. We tend to feel that when we reach adulthood, the relationship that we have with our mother and father should take on more consideration for us. After all, we have reached adulthood, and we desire to be treated as equals. We have begun to live on our own and provide for ourselves. We may have gotten married and begun to raise children. There is now more than ever, so much that we have in common. This tends to be the time when we lose sight of our responsibilities to our parents. Many of us know that we are to provide for our parents when they can no longer provide for themselves – in very much the same way they provided for us when we could not. Many of us fully intend to take on this responsibility when the time comes. However, at the age of forty or fifty, our parents do not seem to need this type of care from us yet. They are self-sufficient – they seem to be very much in the prime of their lives. What could they possibly need from us? What could we as new adults with our own families possibly have to offer them? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with carving out a place for ourselves and our own family?

We still want to have a relationship with them though, but we want to be treated as adults, as parents, as professionals – as equals! We are no longer the kids that took instruction from them, the adolescents that had to follow their rules. We are making our own rules now, and we want them to recognize, and in some cases, be obedient to them. We are ready to trade in the position of honor for one of mutual respect and friendship.

About seven years ago, I went through a series of situations that nearly destroyed my relationship with my father and mother. Catherine and I were busy raising a very active two year-old and newborn twins. I had a new job with increased responsibility, and I felt it was my time to demonstrate that I was now the father to be honored – in short, it was my turn to be in charge.

It was not that I didn’t love my parents – I did then, and still do today. What brought this change about were my feelings of equality with my mother and father. After all, we were all adults now – I was no longer a child, and did not want to be treated as one. I had left their house and their authority and started my own family. I even had scripture to back up the position I was taking: And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24).

I had so many responsibilities to my own family that there was little time to think about honoring my “old one.” And even if I had thought about it, what could I have done differently? We still visited my parents, and they visited us. They got to see their grandchildren as often as was feasible, and I felt that we were doing fine relationship-wise. But I did not want to be told how to run my household, or how to raise my children.

Another detail came into the picture that had not existed before. Catherine and I were raised in the Episcopal Church, which practiced infant Baptism by sprinkling. We were not attending that church anymore, and wondered if we should have the twins Baptized. After much prayer on the matter, we decided that the reasons for it were not what we believed, and we decided not to do it. It was not an easy decision to make, as it was the first real break with the established religion that I had known since I was a child.

We decided to tell my parents about our decision, because we did not want them wondering why they had not been invited to the baptism (as they had no reason to suspect that we would not have them baptized).

The news went over a bit less successfully than I had anticipated. I never imagined that my mother and father would take the news so hard. My father even went so far as to insinuate that if anything happened to the twins, they would go to Hell. Both of them were sure I had joined a cult.

We could have gotten through this and maintained our relationship with my parents had the events that followed not taken place. I was sure that we had made the right decision concerning the baptism, but I did not want to be challenged on the matter. I assumed that any correspondence from my parents would seek to challenge my decision, so I chose not to deal with the correspondence. My father called and left messages; I did not call back. My mother wrote letters; I did not write her back. I did what many of us do when we are young and dumb – I chose not to deal with the situation at hand. Perhaps I thought that if I ignored it, that it would go away.

I justified the decision based partly on what I had learned from verses like Matthew 19:28-29: And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.”

I had departed from what I saw as a dead, lifeless religion, set on finding “truth.” The Bible said that this was OK – I could ignore my family in the name of Yeshua. I was finding my way with my new family, trying to walk in the way that YHWH wanted me to walk. However, what I succeeded in doing was alienating myself from people that loved me, and presenting a terrible witness for devotion to Yeshua. I also succeeded in dishonoring my parents, although I did not realize it at the time. The people who had given so much, were repaid by my growing up and turning my back on them.

I am not saying that I should have had the twins baptized – that was a decision that Catherine and I made only after weeks of prayer and serious thought. What I should not have done was ignore my parents. They were confused, perhaps upset, and maybe even a bit angry. But they could not have forced me to do something that I didn’t think was right, and I should have realized this. I made a stand based on a scripture I did not understand. I thought I was free of any responsibility, just because they did not believe as I did. I ran away, when what I should have done was to stand firm in what I believed, and love and honor them as I always had. I had no reason to run away, because I had not done anything wrong. I had merely begun to grow in my understanding of my relationship with Yeshua.

How many Believers have fallen into this same trap when they begin to discover their Hebrew roots, and explore this Messianic lifestyle? It is so easy to take on a feeling of superiority, knowing that we have discovered the truth, and everyone else is walking in sin and darkness. Some of us may even desire to share it with our families, only to find that what we are saying is met with glazed eyes and unbelieving ears. Sometimes there really is a feeling on their part that we have gone terribly wrong. Most times however, they just want to understand what we are talking about.

What do we do then? Having convinced ourselves that this is the only path and all others lead straight to Hell, we isolate ourselves from those who were skeptical of our new-found “faith”. We search for like-minded individuals with which to fellowship, only to find that they are few indeed. Finally, we find ourselves stuck – we have burned the bridge back to our family, and we cannot seem to find any way off this uninhabited island we have created for ourselves.

About a year later I found out that I was to be transferred to Colorado. I did not want to move halfway across the country without making amends for my actions. I had cut them off, shut them out of our lives. I knew that I had hurt them, and I needed to ask for forgiveness. I visited my parents before we left. The visit was brief, and rather cold. They said they forgave me, but I could tell that they had not forgotten what I had done.

While we were in Colorado, I called my parents on their birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I could tell each time that the miles were not the only distance between us. After a year in Colorado, I decided to leave the Army. We moved home to South Carolina, and I got a job in Columbia as a software developer. I had hoped that during my absence, my parents would have softened to what had happened two years earlier. However, I found this not to be the case. I could tell that they had not forgotten what I had done.

At first I thought that they still harbored resentment about the baptism. It was not until about three years ago, when I was at a Torah study in Columbia that I really began to understand the whole picture, and become aware of exactly what I had done. We were discussing the topic of honoring parents. I had always seen the fact that Abraham had left his home to follow YHWH as similar to my own situation. God had called Abraham out of his home and away from his family, just as I believed that He had done with me. We were talking about this when someone said, “But Abraham never severed ties with his parents.” The moment these words were spoken, I felt as if YHWH was speaking directly to me – Abraham never severed ties with his parents! This was true – they worshipped false gods, but he still considered them his parents. In fact, he sent his servant Eliezer to his father’s house to get a bride for Isaac. I realized that I had gone terribly wrong in my relationship with my parents. I also realized that I had no idea what it meant to honor my father and mother!

I immediately called my parents and invited them to my house – they refused my invitation. I invited them a second time and they said they would think about it, but then declined. I made trips to their house with the children, trying to demonstrate to them that I wanted them to be a part of our lives. And while this was going on, I was dealing with the fact that honoring our parents might be a command for life, and that I had somehow gotten very confused over its meaning.

What I discovered through this whole process is that the relationship we have with YHWH should mirror the relationship we have with our parents. I am not saying that we need to elevate our parents to the status of deity – what I am saying is that we learn how to interact with YHWH by interacting with our parents. And if, along the way, we build a lasting, personal relationship with YHWH, then at the very minimum, we owe our parents our lives, for showing us our Salvation.

When we are young, our relationship with our parents is one of dependence – we need them for everything. As we grow older, we transition to a relationship of obedience – we need them to teach us. Finally, when we are grown and no longer seem to need them, our relationship becomes one of gratitude – they have given so much, and in most cases, made tremendous sacrifices, to get us to where we are now. We owe them everything! How can we – how could I – turn away from them as if we don’t need them anymore?

I am not saying that my parents were or are perfect. They made plenty of mistakes in my life and during the past several years, but this was not license to terminate the relationship I had with them – especially if I wanted them to accept my apology for the mistakes I had made.

Honoring your kids is the best thing you can do for a healthy parent-child relationship.

Honoring our parents is our way of showing them that we appreciate the things they have done for us. Many things that our parents have done can never be repaid – even in monetary terms. We can not assign a price to the nights they sat up with us when we were sick or the kindness and understanding they showed us when no one would play with us at school. We did not have to beg for meals, and we always had a place to sleep and a roof over our heads. Our parents provided all of our physical needs, in the same way that YHWH provides all of our spiritual needs. It also serves to remind us that no matter how old we get, we will never be our parents’ equal. We will never be the same age, and we will probably never call them by their first names. Their position is set apart with regard to us – we are not on the same level with them.

When we begin a new family – when we leave and cleave – this is not license to stop honoring our parents. Just because we start a new family does not mean that we should forget all that they did for us to prepare us for this time. The command to honor our father and mother is also the only commandment that has a condition attached to it – …so that your days may be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your God, gives you. Our children learn how to honor us by watching us honor our parents. If we do not honor our parents in the sight of our children, what are we teaching them? We are teaching them that parents are only useful when they are young; when they grow up, they will have no need for us. Failing to honor our parents does not necessarily mean that we will die at an early age (i.e., not live long in the land YHWH gives us) – it also means that we will be forgotten by our children when they do not honor us, just as we have forgotten our parents by not honoring them.

Honoring our parents does not mean that we have to accept their advice on all matters. It does mean that we should remember that there is probably experience behind the advice, and even if we decline it, we should do so with gratitude and respect.

We are commanded to honor our parents in the same manner that we are to recognize the existence of YHWH as our Creator. How we treat our parents will ultimately reflect what kind of relationship we have with YHWH – are we grateful to Him for our Salvation? Do we call on Him only when we need something, or do we have a daily interaction with Him? Will we eventually put away our relationship with YHWH because we don’t need Him anymore?

One of the hardest things for an adult to do, as I have witnessed, is to recognize that he owes his life to another person or people. But that is exactly the case with our parents. We owe them our lives; in the independence of adulthood, we must remain humble and remember this fact. We must honor them – we must show our gratitude for all that they have done, and remember that one day we will be in the same position with our own children. What will we teach them, and how will they treat us?

Those of us who claim that Yahshua is our Master yearn to live as He desires. We study to show ourselves approved, reach out to those who are lost, pray for the sick, and freely give to the needy. Our lives, according to the world’s standards, seem upright and holy. But what does He truly desire from us? What are His standards? How do we know when He is well pleased with our walk?

There were those during the first century who attempted to live lives of purity and holiness. Over time however, their hearts became more focussed on the outward appearance rather than on the inward attitude. Today, this same group of people are scorned from the pulpit and ridiculed from the pew. The Pharisees could indeed use a new public relations agency. Try as they may, the standard that our Messiah was seeking was different than they were attaining. They had built their own little towers of Babel attempting to please God and man with their actions rather than their attitude. They missed the boat. They came up short. Yet today, many of the same people who malign the Pharisees suffer from the same attitudinal shortcomings.

When Yahshua addressed these gentlemen in Matthew 23 we see He began by telling His disciples that the Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat”. Thereby, He placed them in a great position of honor. He further instructed the people to do all that the Pharisee’s instructed them to do. So, here was our Messiah placing great authority and responsibility on the position that the Pharisees held. One problem though- that hypocrisy thing. Yahshua hates hypocrisy. Perhaps that is one reason why He led such a public ministry during His time on earth. Many people got to witness His actions at very close range. Day after day He walked among all the people from the rulers to the lepers. There indeed is no hypocrisy in Yahshua but the religious rulers of the day were filled with it.

But what was the cornerstone of the problem? Was it hypocrisy or misplaced priorities? Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Mt 23:23). The “omission” is the problem. This word (aphiemi) can be defined further by substituting the words abandon, leave, disregard or keep no longer. So we see that they not only “omitted”, but disregarded or abandoned these “weightier matters”. To disregard or abandon implies that you are familiar with these “matters” and knowingly or unknowingly turn away from them. Yet at the same time they chose to continue in the paying of tithes down to the smallest detail. Perhaps that action brought them more public acclaim. Or maybe it was just easier. Our human flesh likes “easy”. The Pharisees were all too human.

Judgement, mercy and faith, the “weightier matters”, are much more private and therefore much more difficult to obey. These deal with your heart attitude. These are what Yahshua seeks in His followers. However, with these three you see one interesting point. They are not singular but rather linked to each other in a plurality of attitude. An echad [unity] of attitude if you will. Let us examine each one individually and then see how they are linked together and applied in the lives of His people today… right in their home.

According to Dr. James Trimm, who has completed an extensive reconstruction of the Book of Matthew from the DuTillet Hebrew version for his Semitic New Testament Project, these three “weightier matters” are the Hebrew words, mishpat, khesed, and emunah. Mishpat means judgement or justice. Khesed is defined as loving-kindness, mercy or grace. Emunah translates as the English concept of trusting faithfulness. Trimm further states, “The Hebrew word for weightiest is khomerim, the plural of khomer (heavy, strict). Khomer was a technical halachic term which Hillel used in the First Rule of Hillel. The first rule of Hillel is kol v’khomer (light and heavy). This concept in Judaism recognizes for example that some mitzvot (commandments) hold greater weight than others. This is important because at times two commandments conflict and we must determine which one has priority.”

Judgement is a word that is typically shied away from these days. Judge not, that ye be not judged (Mt.7:1). Who wants to “judge” when the tables will be turned one day? Furthermore, how can we properly “judge” when we no longer have any standards? When the foundation of Torah is removed how do we define sin? So you see when we talk about judging we are indeed in murky waters. Then why did our Messiah say that judgement was a “weightier matter” even to the point of putting judgement on a parallel with faith. We must consider the audience. Remember that the Pharisee’s sat in Moses’ seat. This was indeed a seat that involved judgement (remember the first set of tablets?). The Pharisees, like Moses, sat in a seat of authority. The audience in Matt. 7 are the disciples. They had no earthly authority. Furthermore, Yahshua was teaching His students in Matt. 7 about how to live as one of His followers with each other on this earth. They had no authority to judge, the Pharisees did.

What authority do you have? Where is your dominion? Perhaps it is at work or perhaps you are in a seat of authority somewhere else as an elder, pastor, teacher or some type of local official. In that role, judgement is to be exerted wisely. Decisions must be made and judgement must be used for each of those decisions. When you select one thing, you judge against all of the others. The wise judge is the one who selects the best from all of the good choices. Sometimes this even involves individuals. Those in positions of authority have to make judgements on people all the time. Again, the issue here is not do they judge, but rather how do they judge? For those of you who have been placed in such positions you will understand that judgement is indeed a “weightier matter”.

Judgement without mercy is legalism. It becomes condemnation and breeds an attitude of superiority. Merciful judgement is righteous judgement. Judgement without mercy is totalitarianism. The mercy of the Scriptures is one of clemency ultimately found in the merciful gift of eternal life that Yahshua’s death and resurrection provided for all who believe on Him. Mercy is not ignorance. Mercy is not allowance for wanton disobedience. Mercy is not a get out of jail free card for the very act that placed one in jail undoubtedly had some price for others. Mercy is the very essence of our Messiah. One who was merciful enough to sit and teach His disciples for long periods of time following the Torah teaching method, And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut. 6:7). This type of teaching takes dedication, patience and love. These same qualities can be found in true Scriptural mercy. Mercy should never be taken for granted or abused. Mercy should be cherished. Mercy must be honored and just like judgement, mercy is not a solo act. To come to the place where mercy is needed one must first apply judgement otherwise there is no need for mercy. A prisoner has no use for clemency without first having received judgement. Judgement and mercy go hand in hand.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). The third part of this equation is faith. For what good is our mercy without faith? Why make a merciful act if we do not have the faith that it will produce good fruit? Furthermore, why judge someone without the hope that the act of judgement will lead to true repentance. Your faith acts as the link between judgement and mercy. You cannot separate the three entities because they are dependent upon each other for their true fulfillment. We are all familiar with the verse “faith without works is dead”, the works here are indeed judgement and mercy. These are works of the Mighty One of Israel. YHWH issues the judgement, we see the merciful sacrifice of Yahshua and the thing that makes them both real to us is our faith. Just as the empowering element of the echad is the Ruach haKodesh [Holy Spirit]. Indeed in the “weightier matters” of judgement, mercy, and faith we can see a picture of the Father, Son and Spirit. Take one away and you diminish the other two for they are inseparable.

It is critical as we continue in our walk with Messiah that we keep the proper balance of these three important matters. Too often we see individuals or whole assemblies that tip the scales too heavily towards one of these matters. For instance, when one just looks at others with judgement they create a critical eye. Every little detail of the examinee’s life is put under a microscope in the name of “iron sharpening iron”. While discernment is important if you do not couple that judgmental attitude with mercy and faith you will never find anyone “good” enough for you to fellowship with. Then the assembly or individual crumbles from within. This is a cancer that unfortunately is alive and well in the Messianic movement today.

On the other end of the spectrum we see people who want to excuse everything in the name of mercy. Anything goes because we are to be “loving” and we do not want to be “judgmental”. Well, that is not true love that is ignorance. If you truly love someone you will mercifully approach them and attempt to help them. Not with a battering ram, but with merciful judgement and faith.

We who claim to walk in faith in our spirit, often have difficulty demonstrating faith in our flesh. Our faithfulness to our brothers and sisters is often sorely lacking. Typically, one thing or another will upset us and rather than demonstrating faith towards our brethren we issue judgement. We look at where they are now rather than where they will be later, after Messiah has completed His good work in them. This breaks up families, fellowships and hearts, even to the point of causing some to give it all up and run back to the “loving” world. Faithfulness should first be demonstrated in the Body of Messiah. For if we cannot be faithful to each other, how are we ever going to be faithful to Him?

In our homes we can see these three matters at work daily. The father of the family is typically the bearer of judgement, while mother is the merciful one. In this we see the male and female side of Yahweh right in our homes. Without both present, the home is out of balance. If the judgement and mercy do not work in harmony, the family is in chaos. Merciful judgement must be applied in every home or the fruit of the womb will be in dire trouble throughout their lives. But isn’t it our faith that allows us to continue? When things seem to stack up against us it is our faith that carries us through. If our children stray from the mark it is our faith that allows us to look at the good within them and hope for YHWH’s best for their lives. Many times as we raise our children, if we did not exercise our faith our hope would be diminished and our children ultimately lost. Yes, judgement, mercy, and faith are an integral part of any Scriptural home. The “weightier matters of Torah” are critical if we are to train up our children in the way they should go.

Whether it be in our homes, our assemblies, or our hearts, judgement, mercy and faith are ever present if we are to succeed. Lose sight of one of the three and you lose. No one ever walked out these three mattersbetter than Yahshua. We can never truly understand who He is until we understand these three matters fully. If we desire to walk as He walked, then we must work out our salvation under the covering of these “weightier matters”. These are where Torah begins and ends. These are what make the rest effective. Without these key ingredients, our search for knowledge and truth gets out of balance and we become Pharisaical. Without the proper balance, we swing back and forth from a jerky judgement to greasy grace. Our faith is in danger and our hope is diminished.

When we begin our relationship with Yahshua we typically have our scales out of balance. As we mature, our perspective changes and we begin to operate more effectively within the Body and as a witness to the world. Maturity brings balance. Or is it that balance brings maturity? Whatever the case, let us never loose sight of where we came from as we move forward. May we keep a proper perspective in our homes and in our congregations between judgement, mercy and faith. These are indeed the weightier matters. These are the matters that matter most. These are the keys to a believer’s effective walk. May you be blessed as you ponder your relationship with Him in light of these weightier matters.