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How to Teach Your Father or Mother the Truth

Adapted from an article by Edward Good
via Gospel Power, Vol. 16, No. 29, July 19, 2009.

What a difficult thing it can be to teach your father and mother the truth of the gospel! There are so many Christians whose heart's desire and prayer to God is for their father and mother. The either are praying that mom and dad will become Christians or will leave an apostate church to be a part of pure New Testament Christianity. I sincerely hope I can say a few things here that will help someone to teach his or her mother and father the truth.

We all need the truth because of what it can make of us. We are told, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). In the same book, in the 17th chapter we are told, "Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). There might be some who say that their own father is exempt from their teaching because they love him too much to tell him he is condemned if he continues in the same path that he is now following. Don't be controlled by your emotions. Your father and mother need the truth to be free from sin just like anyone else. It takes a bushel of honesty to say that your father is in the wrong. The daughters of Zelophehad had this courage. They said that their father had died in his own sin (Numbers 27:3,4).

It is probably harder to teach our own parents the truth than anyone else. I reckon it is harder because our parents have been used to doing the teaching, and not the other way around. Our parents, have been in the position of giving orders and leading the children in the family so long, it is hard for them to become the students rather than the teachers. There are so many things that children grow up and begin to do that the parents have already "been there and done that" and knows all about it. They have always been in the teaching position with regard to their children and some times the wrong idea of false idea that their children are now trying to turn things around and teach them something they need and thusfar do not have.

We must remember that some parents will accept the truth and others will not. Some of Lot's relatives, his wife and two daughters, got out of the city and were saved from its destruction, but even Lot's wife disobeyed God in looking back toward the burning city and was turned into a pillar of salt. His daughters later commited incest with their father while he was in a drunken condition. Their offspring from that incest never amounted to anything as far as serving the Lord was concerned. There were those who were Lot's relatives who did not listen to his advice and persuasion and were destroyed along with the wicked city.

Rahab was able to save her relatives. Rahab had faith that caused her to plea for and make preparations to save her own family (Joshua 6:23). The sons of Jacob convinced their father to believe a lie that Joseph had died from being attacked by a wild beast. But later, they had to persuade their father that Joseph was still alive and desired to see him. David never was able to persuade his father-in-law, Saul, to stop his vengeful ways even though he set the right ways before him. Jonathan, Saul's own son, tried to persuade Saul to treat David civily and to stop trying to kill him. (I Samuel 19:4-11; 20:30-33).

Perhaps I should mention some "don'ts." Don't expect an angel to come down to convince your parents to obey the truth. Don't expect someone to be raised from the dead to come back and preach the truth to your parents. The rich man desired that such be done for his brothers (Luke 16). Don't expect God to speak to your parents through a donkey as He did to Balaam in (Numbers 22). What are some specific ways to teach our parents the truth?

First, we should use good reasoning (Isaiah 1:19). It was a servant that reasoned with and persuaded his master to do what was required of him to have his leprosy cured (II Kings 5:13). The clear reasoning logic of this servant caused his master to rethink his decision, turn, and do what was required of him.

Second, remember to honor your parents in all that you do and say to them. "Honor your father and mother in all things, which is the first commandment with promise" (Ephesians 6:2). You must not curse your parents or use bad language toward them (Proverbs 30:11). Instead, speak wisely, "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:5,6). I Timothy 5:1 contains an important priciple along this line. While it may be speaking to those in the faith, the principle still applies: "rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father." Paul says there is a certain way that we are to treat a father. It would be with the utmost respect, would it not? He goes on to tell Timothy how to conduct himself toward every facit of life in dealing with every type of person he will be meeting and associating with.

Third, it might be that your parents will not listen nor reason with you. If that happens, don't forget what I Peter 3 says. I Peter 3:1-7 has a principle that may be applied to teaching your parents. It discusses the ability to live a godly life and so by being a good example of Christianity before them, one might be persuaded of your sincerity in dealing with the truth and thereby by your life they may be persuaded to obey the gospel without you trying to pound the gospel into them by your words. Remember that Edgar Guest said: "I had rather see a sermon any day than to hear one, because I might misunderstand what is being said by the teacher, but I cannot misunderstand what he does." So, our conduct before anyone, even our parents, will sometimes work to their conversion without trying to talk them into it.

In all of these efforts to convert your parents and your friends and neighbors, don't forget to constantly pray to God for assistance in what you are trying to do.