Children Must Give Honor
Good Lord’s Day morning! It is a wonderful joy for the Christians here at Chester to join together in body and spirit to worship God. The Psalmist David said, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Ps 122:1). His sentiments are those of our hearts as well. We are glad to be here! Thus, as our assembly convenes, we turn our attention to the worship of Almighty God and the study of His Word.
As indicated by the title of this article our attention is directed to what the Bible says to children. From a brief overview of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, one can discern an almost singular God given duty of children. That duty relates to their parents. Children are to respect and obey their parents. Notice the following citations: The fourth of the ten commandments tells children to “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). The wisdom of Solomon echos those thoughts: “Listen to your father and mother who begot you. And do not despise your mother when she is old” (Prov 23:22). Now turning our attention to the New Testament we read in Col 3:20: “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” In passages throughout the Bible where the duties of children are under consideration, even though the context and language may vary, the basic message is consistent – children are to honor, respect and obey their parents.
Although the command that children respect and obey their parents is the most common charge laid upon the young in scripture, it is not the most important. The command which receives that distinction is found in such passages as Eccl 12:1 where the young are admonished: “Remember your creator in the days of your youth” The reality is that a child’s attitude toward his or her parents in youth sets the stage for the attitude they will express toward God, the supreme authority, later in life. It is God’s will that children honor, respect and obey mother and father so that they will ultimately learn to honor, love and obey God, their heavenly Father.
Throughout our society one can witness a lack of respect and honor on the part of children toward all forms of authority, including that of their parents. Unfortunately, such an attitude on the part of young folks toward authority is not new. To one extent or another it has characterized every generation.
Years ago while living in NW Indiana, I taught a weekly Bible class in a medium security prison. On one occasion I was with a small group of other visitors. We had just concluded our visits and were waiting for the bus to take us back to our cars. I was the only preacher in a group chiefly made up of family members who had been visiting sons, fathers or husbands who were incarcerated. As we waited for the bus we began talking and eventually the parents who were there visiting sons admitted that a lack of respect for parental authority in the home was the primary reason that their particular son had ended up in prison. They mentioned such things as failure to listen to advice, rebellion, lack of responsibility, and disrespect for authority as characteristics of their child’s early behavior. I don’t know how familiar these people were with the Bible, but I do know that they had enough wisdom to recognize the importance of honor, respect and obedience on the part of children toward parents. Those same young men who were in prison due to a disrespect for the laws of the land began their downward spiral by showing a disrespect for the instructions of their parents.
Another interesting observation made during that same prison visit was in the actions of a toddler, a little boy, and his mother. The two of them were there visiting the child’s father. With some embarrassment we noticed as this little fellow ignored his mom’s repeated warnings to stop jumping on the waiting room furniture. As he continued having a good time to the neglect of his mother’s words, I could not help but wonder if his father’s unlawful activity had begun the same way – refusing to obey the instructions of his mother. What a tragedy it would be for that little boy to follow his father’s footsteps into prison.
As alluded to earlier in this article, one can observe the same lack of concern on the part of young people toward authority, parental and otherwise, in every generation. Most young people are naturally rebellious and self-willed to a certain degree and if left alone will end up breaking every rule in sight. However, children were not intended to be brought into this world and left to their own devices in the hope that through their own efforts they will develop a proper respect for the instructions, rules and laws of those in authority. This is where parents come in. God intended for parents to undertake the serious and difficult task of teaching, training and showing that child how to properly live in a society which is structured upon the laws of parents, government and God. In reference to the words of God, Moses told the parents of Israel “. . . teach them diligently to your children” (Deut 6:7). In the New testament book of Ephesians, after instructing children to “obey your parents” and “honor your father and mother,” Paul tells Christian fathers to bring up your children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (6:1).
Thus, the unlawful and destructive rebellion of young people in any generation and in any culture, can be linked as much to a failure on the part of parents to teach, train, and require obedience on the part of their children as to a failure on the part of children to respect and obey the rules of those in authority. We see that parents must exhibit respect and honor for God and his laws in the area of raising children before the children can be expected to do the same. Where we see young people refusing to honor, respect and obey the laws of parents we will generally see parents who have refused to honor, respect and obey the laws of God.