Week 3: Fighting For Your Parents

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We all have parents but, not everyone’s situation is the same. Some of our parents live in another part of the country, while other’s parents live close by. For some of us, both of our parents are still living, while other people, one or both of our parents have already died. Some of us are caring for our aged parents right now, while others think our parents are going to look after us forever. Regardless of what the situation is we all want to finish well with our parents. 

One of the Ten Commandments tells us to, 

“Honor your father and mother.”  Exodus 20:12 NIV

The word “honor” means to treat them with importance. It doesn’t mean you always agree with them. It doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you. But you recognize their importance in your life.

“If anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

If you claim to be a believer in Christ, but don’t care for your family, it means your words and your life do not match. There is no greater model of caring for an aging parent than Jesus.

“When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 NIV

Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, dying, and in the middle of the greatest spiritual and physical struggle of all time He makes sure His mother is cared for in her old age. If you had any doubt about whether this is an important issue or not, that settles it. Caring for your parents is the right thing. It’s the Christlike thing to do.

How do we face this huge challenge in our lives? Wouldn’t you love it if someone would show you a few simple decisions that will really make a difference. They can’t make life perfect, but they can really make a difference.

To Honor My Parents I Will…

#1 – Make the decision to meet their needs

“Do for others what you would like them to do for you.”  Matthew 7:12 NLT

Figure out what you would like your kids to do for you as you get older and that’s what you do for your parents as they get older. Your parents don’t want you to assume control of their lives while they can still live on their own.

Meet needs, real needs, but don’t treat them like they’re old. There will come a day when your parents need you more. Suddenly, the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child. When that day comes it can be a confusing time. The Bible calls that day an opportunity to give back, to repay our parents.

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.” 1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

Start Now.

Prepare to meet their needs now. Honor your parents by visiting them, taking trips with them, writing them, inviting them over for the weekend, doing odd jobs for them, helping them work through issues. Start now – don’t delay.

#2 – Make the decision to accept change/reality.

Jesus was talking with one of His disciples about the changes that would happen as that disciple grew older. Jesus said, 

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV 

We don’t know what’s going to happen to us at the end of our lives. It’s different for every person, but Jesus tells us that as we get older, things change.

One of the changes that can happen is we lose control of our lives. Whenever your parents or anybody feel like they’re losing control the emotion that goes with that is fear. It’s a scary thing to lose control of your life. The only way to counter that fear is to recognize that God is in control even when you’re not. In order to accept this new reality there are a couple things we need to release.

  • Release your dreams

We have dreams about how things are going to end with our parents, but those dreams rarely match reality. Studies show that half of us will be in a nursing home. That may not be how we want it to turn out. So you release those dreams to God and Him for whatever happens. 

“Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NCV

  • Release your guilt

Trying to finish well with your parents can produce guilt. Even people who gave a super human effort in caring for their parents can still feel guilt. It wasn’t your fault that your parents got older. It wasn’t their fault. It was nobody’s fault.

Guilt says, “If I’d done something different, this wouldn’t have happened.” Aging and even death are just a part of life. So you have to recognize it wasn’t your fault.

When you wish it would have worked out differently, share your disappointment with God and release your guilt.

Some of you have genuine guilt about how you handled your parents’ last days. There are things you should have done differently. How do you handle that kind of guilt? You release it to God.

You recognize that He’s a forgiving God. He understands that you and I can make confused and selfish decisions and He forgives us for that. If you don’t deal with guilt correctly, you’ll carry it into other relationships and it will ruin not only your past but the present and the future.

#3 – Make the decision to share the burden.

Many of you are under great stress over this very issue. If someone had told you to take on the load you are carrying, you would known you couldn’t handle it. But it came on you little by little by little and you are now carrying a load that no one is meant to carry alone.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV 

You may read this verse and think, you’re the one who’s supposed to carry everybody else’s burdens. So God included another verse just three lines later.

“…for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:5 NIV

None of us should carry all of the burdens of life, but all of us are supposed to carry some of the burdens of life. If you aren’t carrying any burdens other than just your own – then share the load and carry somebody else’s burden.

If you’re trying to carry all the burden by yourself, then share the load and let other people help carry that burden.

Have an honest talk with your extended family and decide how to share the load with each other. Don’t get hung up on trying to share the load equally. Instead, try to share the load effectively.

#4 – Make the decision to balance your life.

If I pick up a really big weight and try to carry it, it requires balance. Some of you are carrying a big weight in life and you’re way out of balance. It’s all about other people for you right now. Jesus talked about balance in when He said,

“Love others as well as you would love yourself.” Mark 12:31 MSG

If the way you’re giving care is pleasing to God, you’ll be physically, emotionally and spiritually strong. God doesn’t expect you to ruin your health or do things in a way that makes you feel far from Him and others.

There’s no doubt that the balance in life does shift and change. There are times of crisis and emergency, but that doesn’t mean you have to become unbalanced. It means you need strive for balance all the more.

The only perfect person to walk this earth was Jesus Christ. Even He had to take time to get away and rest in order to come back and minister to people. In order to make it through the process of caring for your aging parents, you have to make the commitment to balance your life.

#5 – Expect to grow.

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:3-4 MSG

Now if you are right in the middle of caring for an aging parent. The last thing you want is somebody telling you how you’re going to grow through this. So if you’re in the middle of caring for an aging parent right now, you can tune out this point. 

But for the people who already have been through this or who will go through this in the future, you will grow the most through the difficult seasons of life. 

Through the time spent with your aging parent, you may have conversations or reconciliation you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Your patience might grow waiting for doctor visits and dealing with bureaucrats, lawyers and pharmacists. You will develop new levels of patience in your life.

#6 – Make the decision to trust in God.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Trust in God and He will give you rest in any situation. Maybe in dealing with an aging parent, you have come up against something you can’t do anything about. Have you hit that wall?

Usually when you hit a wall, you just climb right over it. But there are some walls we can’t climb over. Old age is one of them. What do you do when you hit that kind of a wall? 

One option is to run away from it and find a wall that you can climb over on your own. That might make you think you feel better. The other option is to recognize the reality of the situation and look to God who is bigger than any wall you will face and trust in Him. That’s what those circumstances invite us to do, to trust in Him who is greater than anything that we are going to face.

Trust in Him. Don’t go through this alone. Establish a personal relationship with God where you find His strength and His power. That’s one of the decisions you need to make to trust in Him.

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned, the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”  Isaiah 43:2 TEV

Notice that verse says, When you pass through deep waters…When you go through fiery trials. It doesn’t if, it says when. None of us are protected from the tough times of life, but God promises that when you go through those tough times, He will be with you. He will strengthen you. He will not fail you. You can put your trust in Him.

Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on life change and baptism? When we are in Christ our lives have changed from knowing the historical Jesus to knowing a personal Jesus, death to life, being a fan of Jesus to being a follower of Jesus and me to we.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

This week, Pastor Kelly continued the Fight For series by talking about caring for your aging parents. Some of the key scripture passages are listed below.  Read each passage and then share with the group what you find challenging and/or encouraging about each verse. 

“Honor your father and mother.” Exodus 20:12 NIV

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith ads is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.”  1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  John 21:18 NIV

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. …for each one should carry his own load.”  Galatians 6:2,5 NIV

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and ell developed, not deficient in any way.”  James 1:3-4 MSG

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV


  1. Briefly assess your situation with your parents.  What are their needs?
  2. What changes or new realities do you need to accept regarding your parents?
  3. Are there burdens you need to share with others? Are there other’s burdens you need to help carry?
  4. Are there areas of your life that have gotten out of balance?  Too self-less?  Too selfish?
  5. What areas of growth can you identify in your life during this season with your parents?
  6. What are some ways you can deepen your trust in God?

Tell Someone Else

Do you know anyone who could benefit from this message? Consider who God is leading you to encourage this week in light of this message.


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