Today's Sunbeam religion column: Respect your father and his role
CARNEYS POINT – Recent studies have shown that an involved
father has many obvious benefits to their children.
Children whose fathers are involved in rearing them score higher on cognitive tests than those with uninvolved fathers.
A father’s involvement in their children’s school activities protects at-risk children from failing or even dropping out of school.
Involved fathering is related to lower rates of teen violence, delinquency and other problems with the law.
Children who grow up in a family with a secure and loving relationship with their fathers become more involved in the lives of their own children and also become more supportive to their wives. So healthy families produce more healthy families.
Is it any wonder then that the Lord gave us a commandment which many have termed the centerpiece of the Decalog: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12)?
Today, many have tried to undermine the very principle God was trying to convey to us in this commandment.
Television shows portray children as being smarter than their parents and “parent bashing” is laughed at instead of abhorred.
The days of “Father Knows Best” have vanished and we are now living in an age where children are regarded as right and often as knowing more than their own parents. Most advertising today is directed toward 13-year-old minds because Madison Avenue understands that often it is the child who controls the parent rather than the parent ruling the home.
However, despite society’s view of the family, this commandment is one that we should take very seriously.
The word in Hebrew for honor means to “take seriously, pay attention to and reverence.” It is a word also used for the way we reverence God Himself. We reverence God when we honor our parents.
The question is how do we honor our parents? Minor children show honor to their parents through obedience.
In the New Testament we find this principle being underscored: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Children are to be trained by the parents and taught obedience to all authority whether in the home, the school or in society in general. Respect for those in authority must be instilled in our kids with love and grace.
But every child must face the day when they act apart from their parents, taking responsibility for their own lives. When this happens honoring our parents takes on a different tone; we honor them by showing them respect and caring for them.
Jesus demonstrated this principle for us even as he was dying on the cross. One of his last seven words from the cross are for the provision of his mother, Mary, who was entrusted to the disciple John for the rest of her life.
This is a special commandment because it contains a promise....”that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
The Hebrew word for days means special season or day of opportunity. The term for land in the Old Testament often speaks of an inheritance and refers to your special place in God.
In essence, God is promising that through the honoring of your parents, your days of opportunity will be lengthened on earth and you will find a special blessing in God.
However, one thing we must also consider is not only the child’s role in the commandment, but also the parent’s responsibility. In order for children to be truthful in honoring their parents, parents must be honorable.
The fact is, we become like whatever we honor. Parents have a grave responsibility to train their children in the ways of the Lord and to model appropriate behavior before them. The Apostle Paul instructs fathers: “do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
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