Martin Luther said, "History is like a drunk man on a horse.
No sooner does he fall off on the left side
does he mount again and fall off on the right."
This is also true than when it comes to theories
as to how to raise children.
Before World War II it was proposed that the authoritarian approach was best.
A spanking was the way to disciple children.
Then after World War II Dr. Spock became the authority,
and parents were encouraged to nurture their children
and be a friend to them.
Spanking was out.
Talking was the right thing to do -- just reason with them.
God's Word should be our guide.
In Ephesians 6:1-3:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you
and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
This message speaks to all of us
for all of us are children.
For many parents, obedience is synonymous with staying out of trouble,
or at least not doing anything that will trouble them.
The word, "obey," comes from the combination of the Greek word, "hupo,"
which means, "under," and the word, "akouoo," which means, "hear."
Thismeans to "come under the hearing of another."
It means "listening and learning" -- doing what one is told.
Unfortunately, this kind of listening rarely takes place.
Sometimes it doesn't because the parents are too self-centered
to be bothered with their children to teach obedience.
It takes time and effort to train and instruct a child in obedience.
Sometimes the lack of a biblical understanding of authority is the reason.
Some years ago an article in the Journal of Education
from a disgruntled school teacher as she handed in her resignation stated:
"In our public schools today the teachers are afraid of the principals,
the principals are afraid of the superintendents,
the superintendents are afraid of the board members,
the board members are afraid of the parents,
the parents are afraid of the children
and the children are afraid of nobody."
One foreigner to our country said the thing
that impressed him most about America
was the way parents obeyed their children.
There are wrong reasons for obedience.
In some cultures heredity is a reason for obedience.
In other cultures the reason may be based but on the belief
that if you don't properly venerate your ancestors,
they'll come back to haunt you.
Bill Cosby used to say:
"I brought you into this world and I can take you out!"
That might bring some laughs, but that is not a good reason for obeying parents.
Some parents may give as a reason for their children to obey:
"I've lived longer than you and I know..."
There is some truth in that.
Mark Twain said:
"When I was 14 my father didn't know anything.
By the time I turned 21 I was amazed
at how much the old man learned in 7 years."
It is true that many children will surpass their parents
in knowledge by the time they are through college.
Some may reach this level even sooner.
There are parent who were abusive or neglectful,
so the child had to mature in a hurry.
Obedience doesn't come on the basis of chronological age.
Wisdom doesn't always come with experiening life.
I have also heard parents say.
"As long as you eat my food and live under my roof,
you'll do what I say!"
Why should children obey their parents?
Obedience to parents is an obedience to God.
It is in the home that we learn how to respond to authority and unconditional love.
The honor we owe to God is learned at home.
We must learn what it means to honor.
The word used here for honor is "timao,"
which means "to place value on something."
To honor is to esteem and value.
How much are your parents worth?
That is how much you honor them.
Paul here is quoting from Exodus 20:12.
The word translated "honor" is from the Greek word, "kabod."
This word can be translated, "glory," but literally means "to make something heavy."
In this sense honor is similar to our saying that
"the person carries a lot of weight," so take them seriously.
Honor is the basis of obedience,
but this goes far beyond a child's conforming to rules.
Honor is the reason for a child's relationship with his or her parents.
We must always honor our parents.
We shoould always treat them with respect and dignity.
Obedience can be demanded, but honor can never be forced.
Far too often we settle for obedience, but God commands honor.
A sullen child, who begrudgingly does
what he or she is told may be obedient,
but this is not honoring.
We can honor our parents speaking to them with respect.
There will come a time when we realize that our parents are not perfect.
But they are our parents and continue respect them.
We should also speak of them with respect.
This can be difficult for some children.
We can fake respect in their presence,
giving deference to them while they see us,
but when they're out of sight, we speak disrespectful of them.
You can show respect for your parents
by seeking their advice on how they see certain issues.
We might be amazed to learn that we can still learn from them
regardless of their age or their educational level.
We can also honor our parents by forgiving them,
I have known many adults who have had serious difficulty doing this.
Some were constantly belittled by their parents.
Some have been badly mistreated by their parents.
Some have been neglected by their parents.
Some have been abandoned by their parents.
Some have been physically and/or sexually abused by theirs.
How can they be forgiven when they were so mean?
What you need to do is to look beyond your parents
to the love and grace of your heavenly Father.
Honor is an issue of the heart.
A change of heart is needed.
God will give change our heart!
The last verse in the Old Testament
has a wonderful promise from God
that God's prophet Elijah will come
and turn the hearts of the father to their children
and the heart of the children to the fathers.
That promise was fulfilled by Christ.
In the story of the prodigal son
we see how God, the Father, treats disobedient sons. (Luke 15:11-32)
Remember the younger son asks for his share of the inheritance.
This is an inheritance that would come at death.
When he asks for his portion of the inheiritance,
it is as though he wishes his father dead.
With no respect for his father, he leaves with his inheritance.
He dishonors the family name
and squanders all his inheritance from his father.
Later, when all the inheritance is gone,
and he feeding himself from a pig pen,
he comes to his senses.
He realizes how he has dishonored his father?
So the son hoping to be nothing more than a slave
returns home to find his father is waiting for him.
His father embraces him and welcomes him back into his home.
The elder brother wasn't so forgiving. He was not happy that his younger brother had returned.
He really resented the welcome this rebellious brother had received.
You might understand his anger
because of what his father does.
In verse 22 the father calls for the best robe to be brought,
and put a ring put on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Then the fattened calf is slaughtered for a welcome home feast
for this prodigal who had returned home.
This was a lavish outpouring on this prodigal.
This lavish outlay comes from the potential inheritance of the elder brother.
This story makes the point of God's gracious forgiveness
of those who have rebelled and returned,
but it also says something to us about our elder brother.
The Son of our heavenly Father is our elder brother.
The robe with which we are clothed is His,
and so is the the ring and sandals.
But He is not angry at our acceptance,
The love that our heavenly Father has lavished on us
is love that provided by our Elder Brother.
If we know Christ and have squandered our inheritance by our disobedience,
we have an Elder Brother who will forgive us
and provide us with His own righteousness.
He is the lamb slaughtered so we can partake of a wondrous heavenly feast.
We can feely forgive because we have been forgiven.
Children, obey your parents!
When you honor your parents, you are honoring God!
Copyright (c) 1996-2002 Dr. Harold L. White All rights reserved.