I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to “honor thy father and mother”. We all know that we should honor our parents, and that our children should honor us. God has put us under our parents care, and he has given us children to care for. When I think about honoring my father and mother and how I want my own children to fulfill this commandment, I think of two ways to do it. The first would be to respect them, to obey them, to heed their wisdom and to follow their ways, if they line up with God’s ways. As Jesus says in the NT, no parent, even one that is evil, would give his child a serpent if he asks for food. Parents do care and love their children, even if they are evil, or live ungodly. They want what is best for their children and they make sacrifices for them, just as Christian parents do. But there is a difference. A Christian parent raises the child up for the Lord, to fear and love Him, to make the choice when they are raised to give their life to doing His will, and to hate and despise what is wrong and sinful. The parents take great care to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord by following the ways the Lord has given to do this. They lovingly train their children how to behave and how to obey. They protect them from wrong and harmful influences that would militate against what is right, and they go to great pains to teach them the difference so that the children are not lured into doing what is wrong. They correct them by the manner prescribed in Proverbs and other places, so that they will remember that there are consequences for wrong actions. This not only helps them to become self-controlled, but it helps them to understand “sowing and reaping”. If parents follow God’s ways for raising their children, there is no way the child can dishonor the parents or God. In fact, the highest honor that a Christian parent can receive is for their children to decide to follow the Lord. This is the second way that we can honor our parents, and our children can honor us.
Now I'd like to contrast the way a non Christian parent raises their children. Most Non Christian parents raise their children with uttermost care, and want what is best for their children: in this life. They want their children to obey, behave and to respect them. But usually, God’s way for doing this is not followed. Parents end up yielding their will to what the children want, and allow wrong influences into their children’s lives to appease them. They want their children to enjoy themselves, to have fun and to be successful: in this life. They usually don’t consider the spiritual aspect of how they are raising their children, but mainly look to the child’s physical wellbeing and happiness. Though their intentions are good, and they love their children just as much as Christian parent do, they will not get the results that they desire. Most often than not, the children grow up to become selfish, and their wills are not subject to the parents. They often rebel and the relationship between them and the parents becomes strained. They usually end up following the ways of the world, and this just makes the situation worse. Not only do they totally dishonor their parents by the way they act and the lives that they lead but, and most importantly, they totally dishonor God.
Now, I'm sure that there are situations that happen when the parents do follow God’s way for their children, and the children decide when they are able to forsake the way their parents have taught them. When they do this, they forsake the Lord in return, and choose to serve Satan. Deuteronomy 21 v18-21 gives this example. When this happened in the OT, the parents were not to just accept their son the way that he was” because he is their son, and they still love him”, but rather they were suppose to hand him over to be stoned for his rebellion, so that sin would not spread. What a heartbreaking ordeal for the parents. But what about this kind of situation: What if the parents are worldly and the children grow up to be apart of the world, but then later in life, the children see the error of their way and repent. What if they live the most ungodly lifestyle, then completely turn their life over to do the Lord’s will at whatever cost, mainly by rejecting the life that they formerly lived, and ceasing from the sin that they lived in. Would that be an honor to the parents if this happened, or would it be a shame? Most would say that it would be the highest honor to the parents, because their children would be reaching the highest place of success possible for any person, to be apart of God's Kingdom. This is more honorable than the most prominent position in the world, be it the President, some one like Bill Gates, or anyone who is remembered in this world.
For a child to become a Christian when they were formerly a follower of Satan is the highest degree of honor for their parents, Christian and Non Christian. Why? Because that is all that will matter when we are in eternity. As parents, I think that we need to see beyond this world and see the reality that our children's souls will be in eternity one day, either in heaven or hell. Do we realize the fight that we have on our hands to keep them on the way to the Kingdom of God? I often find myself wanting things for them that would draw them closer to the world, and further from God. I need to protect them from the tactics Satan will use to lure them into his kingdom and encourage godliness in them instead of worldliness. My only desire as a parent is to see my children fighting against the world and Satan’s kingdom by serving the Lord and obeying His Word. In my mind, this would be the highest honor.