Together in Christ: 'Bringing Joy to Our Parents' — Proverbs 10:1, 15:20

Thursday, January 25, 2024

A wise child brings joy to a father; a foolish child brings grief to a mother.

. . .

Sensible children bring joy to their father; foolish children despise their mother.

— Proverbs 10:1, 15:20 NLT

Key Thought

Being a parent can be a great joy, but it is also hard work and involves an incredible amount of time and responsibility. Being a child, especially a teenage child or an adult child of aging parents can also be incredibly challenging. The book of Proverbs offers the people of God a great deal of wisdom [1] for how we should negotiate both sides of these sometimes difficult relationships.

For younger children, these two proverbs are clear — bring joy to your parents and do not despise them. We should teach these principles to our children and grandchildren. These two proverbs are great principles that help children build character and help parents leave a legacy of love and faith. They are rooted in God's clear command in the Old Testament for us to honor our parents [2] and for us who are parents to pass on our faith to our children and our children's children. [3]

Today's two proverbs remind us that our objective should always be to bring joy to our parents by what we do and say. Unfortunately, there are at least two conditions that may make it difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill this objective. One is that age sometimes brings mental or emotional degeneration so that parents don't respond rationally to things that are done for them. Still, we are to love, honor, and care for them in the best possible way. The other is that some parents are or have been abusive [4] so it is not safe to interact with them. In all situations, regardless of the type of parents we have, we need to pray for spiritual wisdom in knowing the best ways to love and honor them and never to despise them. [5]

As parents age, they sometimes become less capable of deciding and acting for themselves. Children must seek sensible and loving ways to bring their parents joy in these challenging times. As children try to honor their parents during trying times, they must be careful not to let the burdens of caring lead them to despise their parents. When dealing with aging parents and their memory and awareness issues, loving children have to do what is best for their parents and their safety while loving and respecting them. The example of Jesus becomes very helpful to us in choosing the kind of attitude we have [6] and how we respond to parents' sometimes harsh words borne out of their inability to remember or understand. [7] Wisdom, sensibility, and Christian kindness, however, remind us that our goal with our parents should always be to bring them joy.

[1] The book of Proverbs is among the biblical books classified as "Wisdom Literature."
[2] Exodus 20:12 — the fifth of the Ten Commandments and the first one dealing with interpersonal relationships.
[3] Genesis 18:18-19; Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
[4] Unfortunately, some people grew up in abusive homes where children were not loved, valued, or cherished. Children of abusive parents — whether verbal, physical, or sexual abuse — must first protect themselves, as well as their children and grandchildren, from ongoing abuse. We must remember that proverbs are not laws or guarantees but principles of wisdom true for most situations.
[5] James 1:5-7.
[6] Philippians 2:6-11.
[7] 1 Peter 3:8-9; Luke 6:28; Romans 12:14; 1 Corinthians 4:12; James 3:7-10, 17-18.

Today's Prayer

Almighty God and "the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name": [A] I ask, dear Father, that You please give me the wisdom to know the best ways to bring my parents lasting joy. Forgive me when I haven't treated them with honor, dignity, and respect. Empower me with Your Spirit to treat them as Jesus would. I ask that You forgive them for the wounds they have caused in my heart and help me not to hold grudges or be bitter about their missteps in the past. I pray that my relationship with my family can be pleasing to You and a blessing to them. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

[A] From Ephesians 3:14-15 NIV.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Proverbs 1:8-19; Ephesians 6:1-4
  • Deuteronomy 21:18-21


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Illustration of Proverbs 10:1, 15:20 NLT — A wise child brings joy to a father; a foolish child brings grief to a mother.

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Sensible children bring joy to their father; foolish children despise their mother.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.