Over the past several decades, culture has turned the parent-child relationship upside down. This reversal is the result of parent’s authority being increasingly undermined, aided with an unhealthy attitude of entitlement that is offered to, and even imposed upon, children. How will this trend play out over the next several decades? How do we restore the family hierarchy as designed by our Creator and provide our children the childhood they need and deserve to become the best versions of themselves in adulthood? The answer lies within the richness and wisdom of the Fourth Commandment.
At first glance the Fourth Commandment is only intended for children to obey and respect their parents. But there is so much more packed within the Fourth Commandment. While it is clearly intended for children, it is equally intended for parents, and all adults. The Fourth Commandment actually is a comprehensive field-guide for raising strong, stable families and raising children who are confident, joy-filled and prepared to contribute to society.
The Fourth Commandment implies that parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and all adults live honorably and demonstrate the example of respecting others, so the children in our lives can learn through our example how to honor and obey, not just their parents, but everyone. Parents set the tone for a child. Additionally, a parent’s model of obedience and honor for God shapes how their children will obey and honor God.
The Fourth Commandment also includes a promise. Honoring our father and mother promises a “long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” This promise may seem to be just some extra fluff to make the Commandment sound appealing. However, when you consider how the Fourth Commandment plays out, it truly does pave the way for a long and happy life.
Living a good life is about choices, and children who learn obedience and respect are better equipped to make good choices that lead to a better life for them and their children. For example, a child who obeys his parents and comes in at curfew may miss out on the “fun” of staying out late, but they also avoid the situations that put drunk drivers behind the wheel.
As parents and grandparents, we are called by God to be examples of honor and respect. Furthermore, we must be intentional about teaching honor and respect to our children and not let it happen by chance.
Another aspect of the Fourth Commandment is that it instructs us to honor our parents in their old age. No one has perfect parents and too many people have parents who clearly fell short of providing an ideal childhood. Regardless, we all are called by God to set aside our differences and honor our parents and fulfill their needs as they become physically and mentally unable to care for themselves.
When it seems impossible to lovingly care for parents, we can draw strength from the following Bible verse: “With your whole heart honor your father; your mother’s birth pangs do not forget. Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you?” Sirach 7:27-28
One of the hidden gems masterfully designed within God’s framework of the Fourth Commandment is a variety of blessings for the whole family, including future generations.