Deuteronomy 5:16 (CEV) “Respect your father and mother, and you will live a long and successful life in the land I am giving you.”This passage contains two rewards, and one requirement. What are the rewards? First, children will have a long life. How many people's lives have been cut short because they didn't listen to their parents? No parents are perfect, but parents are always smarter and wiser than their kids. Except for extremely rare circumstances, parents want what is best for their kids. So it is only natural that children will be healthier and live longer if they honor their parents. But there is also a supernatural element to this reward. God gives a special blessing of health and longevity to people who honor their parents. The second reward is that children will be successful. This too is both natural and supernatural. Because parents are smarter and wiser, it is a natural consequence that kids who honor their parents will be more successful than kids who don't. But this is also a supernatural promise of God's special favor for those who honor their parents.
And now to the requirement. Honor your parents. Your kids must understand two omissions from this command. First, that it is unconditional. This command is not merely for children with godly parents, or nice parents, or permissive parents, or respectable parents, or cool parents. It applies to children of good and bad parents. There is an obvious application for parents. If you want your children to reap the rewards of this verse, then you should make it as easy as possible to honor you. But that's another lesson for another day. The second omission in this command is that it has no age limit. You won't always be a child, but you will always be someone's child. You will eventually grow up, but you will never outgrow the command to honor your parents. You will not always have to obey your parents, but you will always have to honor them. Most people would agree that children are obligated to obey their parents until they move out on their own. But honoring your parents is something you do for the rest of your life.
If you are serious about your kids being successful, then you need to teach them how to honor their parents. Here's an easy-to-remember acronym to help you.
- H -- Help them as they get older. As your parents get older and can no longer do for themselves, or provide for their own needs, it falls on you to care for them. Two things to consider: One, most people don't want to end up in a retirement home. Two, it is hard to take good care of your elderly parents if you live far away.
- O -- Obey them right away with a good attitude. True obedience is both immediate and respectful.
- N -- Never hold a grudge against them. Your parents will sin against you; they will disappoint you; they will frustrate you. But God requires that you forgive them.
- O -- Open up your life to them. Visit and call them often. Include them in get-togethers, holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations. Let them visit as often as they wish. And above all, let them enjoy their grandchildren.
- R -- Respect them with your words and actions. In their presence and in their absence, you must only say and do what is respectful to them.
In his book on the Ten Commandments, Philip Ryken described how to honor your parents like this. "To honor one’s parents is to give due weight to their position. It is to give them the recognition they deserve for their God-given authority. To honor is to respect, esteem, value, and prize fathers and mothers as gifts from God.”
Have you taught your kids the connection between success and honoring their parents? And have you taught them how to honor their parents?