In terms of your significant decisions and how you live, do you pay attention to what your parents say–enough to actually DO as they recommend? Or do you ignore what they suggest as much as you can, choosing instead to do what seems better to you? Granted, for some, other than our recollection of what our parents tried to pass on to us, it is already too late because they are gone. But for many who recognize them as such, living breathing parents are a gold mine of opportunity for obtaining wisdom.
“Children, obey your parents as the Lord wants, because this is the right thing to do. The command says, “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first command that has a promise with it— “Then everything will be well with you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”” (Ephesians 6:1-2)
Let’s face it–parents can be aggravating. They always think they know better, and frequently they keep trying to micromanage our lives long after we would like them to stop. Yet the truth of the matter is that while parents, being human, too, and with a sin-nature, can and do mess up–most notably in their judgment of how much to get involved in their children’s lives as they mature–it is also true that with rare exceptions, there are none who love us more than they. And almost as certain as a parent’s love and concern for their child’s well being is their offspring’s tendency to want to ignore it and “strike out on their own.” But while the maturation process necessarily involves increasing degrees of decision-making and corresponding accountability for the choices made in real-time repercussions, God has built in a safeguard for our protection through what we call the fourth commandment.
There IS a reason why He tells us to honor our parents–to give grave weight and consideration to their teachings. It is because they have lived longer than we. Regardless of whether they have Ph.D.s or wait on tables, our parents have, at a minimum, close to several decades of life experience on us. And while we are never to accept instruction to sin from anyone–even a parent–the type of teaching they typically attempt to pass on to us is that which will assist us in life.
Consider why God tells us we are to obey this commandment: 1) that everything would go well with us, and 2) that we would live long on this earth. Our parents know what we need to do and how we need to live so that things go more smoothly for us and we succeed in our endeavors. They’ve been there and done that. Obeying them will not only cause our lives to be better, but will even extend them by keeping us from making mistakes that would unnaturally abbreviate them. Take nutrition, for example.
My mother, a translator by education, immersed herself in a personal agenda of nutritional research that would put most of us to shame–and because she loved me and wished me good health, she kept trying to share her knowledge. Yet as much as nutrition interested her, I had absolutely no curiousity about it–to the contrary, her attempts made me less and less receptive! Yet, as I’ve matured I’ve come to see that we need to be wise about what we put in our bodies, and that she was right.
Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…” Young people do not yet have the experience to always understand why what they are contemplating might not be the correct course of action or what negative consequences might follow. An older adult who loves them and cares deeply for them can help them think things through to make sure it really is the best course of action.
This doesn’t, of course, mean that we are to forever remain like little children, unable to think and act for ourselves. We should, however, not lightly shrug off our parents, because as aggravating as it may be to admit, what they are saying is probably wise and worthy of our attention.
So the next time your mother or father tells you to eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, or go to bed earlier so your heart doesn’t start hurting, or get your work done before turning on the video game system so you have enough time to generate good work and have peace of mind when you do finally relax, or reminds you to pray on your own, read the Bible, and go to church–don’t tune them out or ignore them. Recognize that they love you very, very much, and are trying to help you have the best life possible–and actually DO what they say!
Help me honor my father and mother–give grave consideration to what they tell me to do and how they instruct me to live–that things may go well for me, and that I may have a good long life! Amen.