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Honoring bad parents

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Must we honor even bad parents? No parent is perfect, but some are really bad. Some verbally or physically abuse their children to such an extent that deep scars remain. What does Jesus require? In John 15:9-17 he taught the general idea that we are to love each other. And for enemies he taught that we should love them too (Matthew 5:44). Some of our worst enemies can be family members. Jesus reminded us to pray that God will forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and that if we forgive others their trespasses, our heavenly Father will also forgive us (Matthew 6:9-15). As hard as that may be, one way of honoring our parents is to forgive them. Forgiveness also releases us from an emotional prison. Honoring even bad parents is for our good.

Matthew 5:48 is a puzzle for many of us because when we think of the word perfect in English, we think of sinless perfection. However, that is impossible. On the one hand, the Greek word actually means mature or complete. In context Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, so that we may be the children of our Father in heaven. On the other hand, the context is complete love like our Father’s, in loving our enemies. Luke 6:35-36 explains the same teaching in different words, that we are to love our enemies and be merciful, just as our Father is merciful. Perfect love is what Jesus demands. A Christian cannot be contented with love only towards a friend, but strive towards a higher, more perfect love like that of God.

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