Young people, do you view your parents, and specifically your fathers, as the source of your joy and happiness? It is tempting for a child, as he grows older, to despise his parents and to reject their good advice and admonitions. The wise child, according to the book of Proverbs, is a son or daughter who keeps the commandments of father and mother, receives reproof, thus making father and mother glad. The foolish child is one who despises instruction, will not hear rebuke, and turns away from the commandments of his parents. Are you living as a wise, or as a foolish, young person?
One striking way in which God puts this calling is found in Proverbs 17:6: “The glory of children are their fathers.” The word glory there can be understood as boasting, and the idea is that children delight in their fathers. The father is the source of highest glory and boasting to a child. The child holds his father in high regard. It is ordinary for small children to think a lot of their fathers, but as they grow to be teenagers, that honor tends to diminish. What does it mean for you that your glory is your father? How do you show that? You need to show that you glory in your father by obedience and respect.
Children must honor and respect others, especially their parents. Our temptation is to honor self, but God demands that we turn away from self to honor others. The degree of success and happiness in your life has directly to do with the extent to which you are able to focus on others, not yourself. It is interesting to note how many words have the word “other” in them. Mother, brother, and another are just a few. We know that the greatest “other” is God. We need to put the glory of God above that of ourselves. This is the lesson God is teaching us through all of life—God first—me last.
Why must you glory in your father? First, you owe a debt of gratitude to your parents. You owe them for their care for you, for their sacrifices, for their hard work. The debt you owe your parents is a huge one, and you need to be reminded constantly of the hard work that your father and mother perform to provide for all your needs. Your mothers should remind you of all the hard work your fathers perform, and your fathers should remind you of the hard work your mothers are involved in to maintain your place in your home. A spirit of thankfulness needs to move you to honor them. It is easy to take parents for granted, but we may not do so.
Second, God has given to your parents a high and noble office that you need to respect. The office of parent demands respect, regardless of the person who fills the office. Remember the difference between obedience and honor. Hopefully this never is the case—but you may not obey your parents if they demand sinful things of you. Say no to them, and tell them you must obey God not them.
Third, your parents must be honored and respected because of the experience that God has given to them. They have obtained a profound education in the school of life, in addition to the other training they have. They have struggled against sin, fought against temptations, labored and sacrificed and worked hard, and have been required to make many decisions. God has given to them a wealth of experience, for which you must be thankful.
Fourth, your parents must be loved and respected because God has set them as His representatives. Your parents, especially your father, represent God. If you do not respect and glory in your father, you do not respect and glory in God!
Finally, the most basic reason is that God says so. This is God’s clear command in Ephesians 6:1: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” The parent who demands respect and requires that both father and mother are treated courteously and with deference is not being selfish. He is training his child in the way that he should go, the way of obedience before God. As young people, you need to put the interests of your parents above your own. You need to put their comforts and needs above your own. You are called to lift their burdens, and to show an interest in them and in their lives.
Help your father and your mother without their having to demand it of you. That starts with the little things. Set and clear the table, wash the dishes or load the dishwasher, always leave a room cleaner than when you entered it. Pick up your trash and that of others and throw it away. Put your dirty clothes in the hamper; put your clean clothes away. Keep your bedrooms looking neat. Shovel the snow, mow the lawn, take care of pets, run errands, show your love and respect by putting your parents and their needs above your own. Ask your father or mother what you can do to help lighten his or her load. Hold the door open for your dad and mom. Give them the best chairs in the living room. You are called to serve them. The child who is selfish at home will be selfish at school and selfish in the whole of his or her life.
Put the glory of others ahead of yourself!
The same is true of your grandparents. Their place as your elders demands your love and attention and respect. They need your visits. You should write them letters, call them, e-mail them, show special love and attention to them.
Your relationship to your brothers and sisters must be one of unity and love. Wickedly the world talks about how brothers and sisters don’t get along and are prone to fight. That ought not be the case in a Christian home! Our sinful natures rise up at times, but the norm should be love toward one another. This is so important that God says in I John 4:20: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” If you do not love your brother and sister whom God put on your pathway, then you cannot say that you love God! You need to share. You need to learn to avoid jealousy. You need to be able to praise your brothers or sisters for something they can do better than you. You need to ask them for help when you are struggling with something they are good at. Those of you who have younger brothers or sisters need to help take care of your siblings. God has put you as an example to them, so you as the older children have the greater calling.
This will carry over to your teachers in school, which is an extension of your home. When obeying and honoring your teacher, you are honoring God. Be kind and helpful in the classroom. Don’t talk about your teacher or mock him behind his back. You older students on the bus, on the playground, and in your classroom need to be good examples to the younger students. Your classmates need to be treated like your brothers and sisters. They are spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ! Show them what it means to be obedient and respectful. There is no place for selfishness anywhere in life, not at school either. You need to think of others ahead of yourself. Work hard, accept the instructions and assignments and discipline of your teacher. You need to pray daily to be kind, unselfish, and loving toward those around you. You need to play games together and abide by the rules. Be fair. Put others ahead of yourself. Don’t argue when you lose or “get out.” Wait your turn where that is required. Respect the property of others as well as their bodies.
It is a shame today that I hear so many children referring to adults in a very disrespectful manner. Never should you call your dad or mom by their first name. The other adults in the church should be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. It is a shame that so many children call their uncles and aunts by their first name. They don’t even have the courtesy to call them Uncle and Aunt. Ministers need to be addressed by their titles. Adults need to demand this form of respect for God’s sake. These titles are not important because the people are so great, but because God demands respect for the office and position they occupy. They are your elders, and in honoring them you honor God. Remember what happened to the forty-two children who refused to show honor to Elisha. Two mother bears came out of the woods and tore them in pieces. God demands honor and respect!
As the end of the world gets nearer, there will be great temptations for God’s people, including children and young people. One characteristic of the end, according to II Timothy 3:2, is that children will be “disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection.”
Tragically we see this already in our day. Children and young people are disobedient. They are selfish. They are unthankful. They lack natural love for their parents and siblings. They do not live holy, but live according to their own sinful desires. As God’s children, we need to fight those temptations.
If we are honest with ourselves, we need to conclude that we do not do very well. We are very selfish. We want our own will, not what our parents and siblings desire. We are very sinful. We do not love those whom we can see, and we therefore deserve to be cast off by God whom we cannot see. But God is merciful. He shows us what love is. He gave His own Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins. If God and Jesus were selfish like us, we would never have been saved. But God loved us, and now works in our hearts by His Spirit so that we love Him and show it by loving one another. We need to be children of prayer, children who say we are sorry, and children who know that we need Jesus Christ and His saving grace in our hearts. You need to put first in your life, not yourself, but God and His will.
In this way, not only will you glory in your parents, but, as Proverbs 17:6 states, you will be the crown of your par-ents and grandparents. You will have thankful and glad fathers and mothers and grandparents. Why will they be glad? Not just because you are respectful and obedient. But because in that respect and obedience they see young people who are loving God. They have no greater joy than to see their children and grandchildren grow up in the truth. They want to see you walking in the truth and walking in love with God and one another. May God grant that we show ourselves wise sons and daughters for His glory and praise!