Summary: Caring for elders is not easy. But taking care of old age parents is a sweet experience because no other human has loved us like they did. God wants us to love and take care of them irrespective of whether or not they ‘deserve’ it.
Need for caring for parents:
A young couple was making great sacrifices for the upbringing of their child. A neighbour, who saw their deeds, asked them, “Will he take care of you when you are old?” Many of us, who are young adults, would have come across such a question in our life. But have we ever realized that our parents would have made similar sacrifices during our childhood? Let us take a moment in recalling the sacrifices they have made.
Our parents would have sacrificed for us as much as we have sacrificed for our children. Many of us may not know the sacrifices of our parents, as we were young then. So theoretically, if we want to repay for our parents’ sacrifices (excluding the interest earned through the years) then we have to spend time, money and energy for our parents as much as we spend for our children. Our parents have taken care of us when we were young, as we could not handle our needs. Hence, we have to take care of them during their times of need, i.e., when they are old. Moreover, God has commanded us to honour (Exodus 20:12) and take care (I Timothy 5:4) of our parents.
Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12
Honouring parents are for adults also:
When we hear the above commandment we generally relate it only to the young child and teenager. But The Bible doesn’t restrict this commandment to them alone. Jesus explained that this commandment is applicable to adults as well (Mark 7:6-12). The Jewish leaders tried to find a loophole in the above commandment, so as to avoid the burden of caring for their aged parents. Since they could not find any loopholes, they introduced a new law by which a person can dedicate the resources needed to care for his parents as a gift to God (called Corban) and the person then need not support his parents after that. But Jesus condemns such a practice.
And Jesus continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother.– Mark 7: 9-12”
Hence, adults, who have aged parents, must honour their parents and support them in their old age.
Caring is not a burden but a sweet duty:
Many times, we also find caring for our old parents to be a burden. But let us remember the good things they have done for us. We are not ready to sacrifice our time for them, whereas they have sacrificed their lives for us. We feel they are unhygienic, whereas they never hesitated to wash our bottoms. We feel they are foolish, whereas they have spent months trying to teach us simple words like apple and ball. We feel their medical bills are too high, whereas they never held back their savings when we were sick. We leave them in old age homes, whereas they never, ever thought of leaving us when we were young.
It is true that giving care to an old person is not that easy, but let us remember their love and sacrifices in bringing us up. When we are driven by the love for our parents, caring for them is no more a burden but rather it’s a sweet experience. The Bible also clearly instructs that taking care of the old people is the duty of their children (I Timothy 5:4). God will reward us for our good works (Psalms 126:6) and our labour in the Lord will never be in vain (I Corinthians 15:58).
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. – I Timothy 5:4
There are no exceptions:
To have parents who love you and are lovable is a blessing. But, some may not have that blessing. Your parents might not have treated you well when you were young. They may have had characters or habits that are detestable. Does that allow a person not to take care of his/her parents? The Bible does not give any such exception for honouring parents (Exodus 20:12, Leviticus 19:32, Ephesians 6:1-3). Hence, we have to honour our parents, regardless of whether or not they “deserve” honor.
How to honour our parents?