In Matthew, God is described as “our Father” (Mt 6:9). In Galatians, God is referred to as “our Mother” (Gal 4:26). In 2 Corinthians, we are called God’s sons and daughters (2 Co 6:18). When we put all of these words in the Bible together, we can see that we are the children of Heaven and members of the heavenly family who have God as our Father and Mother.
Unfortunately, we do not remember this fact because we have been cast down to this earth as a result of committing sin in Heaven. It is very difficult for us to remember what happened in the spiritual world because we are living in a three-dimensional world. The words “our Father and Mother” are not just mere titles. They actually refer to our Father and Mother. God uses the clear testimonies of the Bible to teach us this fact.
It is the duty of all children to show filial piety toward their parents. The things on this earth are a copy and shadow of the things that are in Heaven. Therefore, through the earthly family system, we can understand about the spiritual family system, which is the reality. The Bible contains many examples of those who practiced filial piety toward God, our spiritual Parents. Among all of these examples, let us focus on the example of a woman named Mary. Through Mary’s example, we will be able to understand more deeply about the virtue of filial piety and the mindset we should have toward God.
When Mary poured an alabaster jar of perfume onto the feet of Jesus, He responded by acknowledging her beautiful act and declaring that this pious act of hers would be mentioned wherever the gospel was preached. Let us understand why Jesus said this, through the words recorded in the Gospel of Luke.
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “. . . Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” . . . Lk 7:36–49
The Gospel of Luke records that a woman wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and poured perfume on them. In Matthew Jesus declared, “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mt 26:6–13
In fulfillment of the words of Jesus, the beautiful actions of Mary are recorded in all four of the Gospels. The Gospel of John records that Mary came to Jesus, wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and poured perfume on them. Upon seeing this, Judas Iscariot became very angry. According to his logic, the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor, as opposed to just being wasted on the feet of Jesus, because it was a very expensive perfume equivalent to almost a full year of wages. Through the Bible, we can see that Judas said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he wanted to steal the money that could have been obtained by selling the perfume (Jn 12:1–8).
Jesus knew the true intentions of Judas Iscariot, and in the same way He saw the heart of Mary. That is why Jesus said that wherever this gospel is preached, the beautiful actions of Mary will also be told.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sa 16:6–7
People tend to judge others by their outward appearance; however, God always looks at our heart. When Mary poured perfume on Jesus, she proved that she had exceptional filial piety toward God, who came to this earth in the flesh to save His children, the mere mortal sinners from Heaven. Jesus should have been served by all people every single day, and it still would not have been enough. Rather, He was slandered and ridiculed by them. Despite all of this, He has never withdrawn His saving hand from us, and continuously guides us. Since Mary understood this profound grace of God deeply within her heart, she willingly poured copious amounts of expensive perfume on Jesus.
The tears Mary shed when she looked at Jesus reflected both her repentance and realization: “Did You come down to this earth for a sinner like me, knowing that such a sorrowful life would be waiting for You? Are You now living a life as painful as this for someone like me?” Jesus could read these beautiful thoughts in her mind, and that is why He said, “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
God is our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Mother, and we are God’s sons and daughters. The Spirit Himself testifies that we are God’s children. God will surely accept our heart with joy when all of us, the members of the heavenly family, practice such sincere repentance and filial piety toward God.
Before we came to this earth, we lived a happy life in Heaven, calling God “Father” and “Mother.” Unfortunately, we were tempted by Satan to commit sin, and have been cast down to this earth, being clothed in sin as mortal beings. For such grave sinners like us, Heavenly Father and Mother have left all of the heavenly glory behind and came down to this earth, having made Themselves even lower than the angels. They have opened the way for us to return to the eternal Kingdom of Heaven by walking the path of sacrifice for us. Even at this very moment, Satan is trying to hinder people from realizing the love and sacrifice of God, in an effort to prevent them from practicing spiritual filial piety toward God.
It is natural that we should practice filial piety toward our parents on this earth, but that is not enough. Through practicing filial piety toward our parents, we should understand how to properly act toward our spiritual Parents. By doing so, we can achieve complete repentance like that of Mary and serve our Heavenly Father and Mother more devotedly.
Although Mary faced many difficulties, she willingly broke her jar of expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus after wetting His feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. Mary did this because she genuinely realized from her heart that God had put on human flesh to save a grave sinner like herself. We, too, should practice filial piety toward our Heavenly Father and Mother by always giving glory and thanks to Them. We need to think deeply about what was in the heart of Mary and what her tears meant when she poured the perfume on Jesus.
With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Mic 6:6–8
Practicing filial piety toward God does not mean giving something special to God. The Bible says that God is not pleased with thousands of rams or ten thousand rivers of oil, and God’s greatest desire is for us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly alongside of Him. Ultimately, the greatest act of filial piety we can fulfill for God is to participate together in God’s work of saving the world.
We need to think about what we can do to help Father with His work and how we can lighten the burden of the cross Mother is bearing alone. Additionally, we should strive to fulfill our filial duties to God as God’s children. This is why God has appointed us as competent ministers of the New Covenant and entrusted the gospel to us (1 Th 2:4; 2 Co 3:6).
Solomon, who was given the title “King of Wisdom,” left one of the greatest teachings behind. Solomon was considered to be the wisest man throughout all ages and countries. His God-given wisdom led him to the following conclusion:
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd . . . Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecc 12:11–14
Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. His final conclusion is that the most important duty of human beings is to faithfully serve God, our spiritual Parents, and to obey every word of God. Through the Bible, Solomon ultimately teaches us that we should fulfill our filial duty to Heavenly Father and Mother as Their children.
The people of this world have forgotten what happened in the angelic world, and they are living on this earth without knowing the purpose of their life. They think only about earthly things in the three-dimensional world. They spend each day satisfying their physical needs as they pursue worldly wealth and honor. While doing so, they fail to realize that when they die, they will stand before the judgment seat of God.
Through the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon teaches us that we have an eternal world to return to, declaring that although he enjoyed all of the wealth and honor in this world, everything was meaningless and it was like chasing after the wind. Fearing God, our spiritual Father and Mother, who rule over the eternal world, and keeping Their commandments is the whole duty of mankind. On the last day, God will reveal all that is hidden and He will repay and judge every single person according to what he or she has done. This is how God will finish all of His work.
Jesus came to this earth as a Son and set the example of filial piety toward God by obeying God’s will, even to the point of death. Among the teachings of Jesus, let us look at His teaching about filial piety toward God.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” Mt 22:34–38
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” These words of Jesus mean that as God’s children, we should practice filial piety toward God our Father and Mother. Jesus said that this is the first and greatest commandment.
From this we can conclude that the first and greatest commandment is to wholeheartedly fulfill our filial duties to God, which is the same conclusion that Solomon reached when he wrote Ecclesiastes. In the past, we used to think of God as an absolute Being who was completely separate from us; however, God has connected Himself to us through His holy flesh and blood of the New Covenant. As a result, we have become God’s sons and daughters, and God has become our Father and Mother. As God’s children, we should all practice filial piety toward God.
It is very pleasing to see children obey their parents on the earth, isn’t it? The story of an obedient son has been passed down through the generations. To this day, the story continues to touch the hearts of many people and delivers valuable lessons.
In the same way, we should also become the protagonists in the beautiful stories of spiritual filial piety, which will be passed down to the angels in Heaven. God is worthy to receive glory forever and ever; yet, He came to this earth in human form and dedicated His life to saving His children by establishing the way to give them the forgiveness of sins. Since we have been given this knowledge and understanding, we should fear God and obey God’s word. This is our whole duty.
Many of the saints in the early Church practiced filial piety toward God. One of them was the Apostle Paul, who came to realize the truth at some later point in his life; yet, he still practiced exceptional filial piety toward God. Let us understand more deeply about how he demonstrated filial piety toward God.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro 8:35–39
God loves and cares for each and every one of us, more than anything else in the world. Our parents are probably the only ones who love us more than we love ourselves. The Apostle Paul preached the gospel with a strong commitment to God, declaring that neither hardship nor any difficult circumstance can separate us from the love God has for us. There is more rejoicing in Heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God, than over the ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent. Paul did his best to fulfill the mission of preaching the gospel in an effort to please and glorify Heavenly Father and Mother.
Brothers and sisters in Zion! I would like to repeatedly ask you to live in the wisest and most upright manner by loving and fearing God, as well as keeping all of God’s commands. I believe that when we do so, the tears of our heart will wet the feet of God, in the same way that the sincere tears of Mary did. I earnestly ask all of you, the children of Heaven, to always give joy to our Heavenly Father and Mother by practicing true filial piety toward Them every day, and by finding all of our lost brothers and sisters as quickly as possible.