Honoring a Dad, Loving as the Golden Rule Commands

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

There's a man whose dad had a stroke. The dad had been a very active individual, both mentally and physically. He had had a very successful career, after which he retired and traveled the world with his grown children, played with his young grandchildren, and enjoyed life with his wife. But since the stroke, he hasn't been able to walk, talk much, or take care of himself.

If we were this dad, how would we want to be treated? If we were the son, how would we treat our dad? What would we be willing to do for him?

The Golden Rule tells us:

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets." (Matt 7:12 NLT)

This simple rule is the "essence," the very heart of everything that the law, as established by Moses, and the prophets of old defined. That's amazing! So, obeying the Golden Rule helps us live the Ten Commandments. One of those laws of Moses says:

"Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." (Ex 20:12 NIV)

Most people assume that this commandment is to help younger children obey their parents. But many Bible scholars agree that this commandment was originally intended for adult children to make sure they would care for their parents rather than abandon them when they become old and no longer contribute to society (according to the views of the time). Thus, caring for one's parents is acknowledged to be the merciful, humane, and loving thing to do.

Many people know the Golden Rule and the fifth commandment, but they don't always obey them -- maybe because it just seems too hard. But, when someone follows them, the impact can be tremendous!

So let's ask again: How should the dad be treated? With love, compassion, encouragement, kindness. And that's exactly how the whole family treats him. But it became clear that taking care of him was a full-time job that was too much work for his wife to do alone.

At this point, the son willingly stepped up to meet the need. This particular son also had had a successful career and was engaged in other activities at the time. But he decided to let his apartment go, leave his life as he knew it, and move across the country to live with and take care of his dad.

The son does everything he can to make his dad feel comfortable, loved, and happy; he also gives his mom emotional, moral, and practical support. This son takes care of his parents' house, cars, finances, and taxes. He drives his dad to visit friends as often as possible. He's also taken him to football, baseball, and hockey games because his dad loves sports. The son has also carried him around, helped him in and out of bed and the car, taken him outside to enjoy the fresh air, helped him into a boat for a little excitement, fed him, changed him, and bathed him. He's also continually praying for his dad. In essence, the son is doing everything for him. Pretty amazing, huh?

This son is a true example of someone who is committed to following the Golden Rule and to obeying the fifth commandment. He loves his dad, so that makes wanting to help him easy. But helping him day in and day out has not been easy. If you've ever been around anyone who has an ongoing physical challenge, then you know it can be pretty difficult at times. Frustration, disappointment, and discouragement can creep in and make things tough.

But this son continues to love by serving. He's there for his dad and for his mom. He gives his mom breaks, encourages her, prays with her, and keeps her company. He's even there for his nephews when they come with their parents to cheer up their grandpa.

The part that is amazing is the degree to which this son has put his own life "on hold" indefinitely in order to care for his dad. And he's done it unselfishly, graciously, and humbly. He has personal goals and dreams, but he's put them aside to live the Golden Rule actively and honor his parents. Such service to his dad can only bless him. He knows what it means to serve someone else. He knows what it means to give selflessly to another. He's doing what Jesus expected us to do. Wow!

May all of us see this as an example of what is possible to do! We may or may not have a parent who needs our care the way this son's dad does. But there will always be ways for us to practice the Golden Rule. We may have siblings or friends or parents or pets who need our care in other ways. The question is: If we want to make a difference, are we willing to do what's required of us? If we truly love God, if we truly love others, then we will find a way to put aside our own wants and serve others with unwavering love.

Let's go out and love actively and unselfishly!