Parents don't seem to get the same respect they once received, do they? In today's culture, parents become "chums" to their kids, rather than parents. The move toward "befriending" the child has brought about a kind of disrespect which society sees manifest in a multitude of ways - everything from the simple rebellions of back talk, crossing boundaries with too much ease, up to dropping out of school, engaging in rebellious behaviors, and keeping wrong company. No wonder our sixteenth principle deals with the attitude we are to have toward our kids and the attitude they are to exhibit toward us! Parents have a role in raising their kids - more than just to put food on the table and clothes on their back - just as much as kids have a role in bringing respect and honor to their parents. That said, the two roles need to be recognized, respected, and upheld.
Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her. Buy truth—don’t sell it for love or money; buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight. Parents rejoice when their children turn out well; wise children become proud parents. So make your father happy! Make your mother proud! (Proverbs 23:22-25 MSG)
Parents - those who give life to the child. When an individual becomes a parent, it is a lifelong endeavor - not easily ended at the age when the minor becomes an adult. To this day, my 95 year old mother worries about me - those things which affect me at work life, in my home life, and even in my spiritual life. She will shuffle over, sit down beside me on the couch, pat my knee and just sit there. I know this is a sign of her just being concerned about how I am doing. In the mornings, she will find her way to wherever I am perched at the computer, kiss the top of my head, tell me she loves me, and then she might return to bed or go make her cup of tea. At night, she tells me she loves me and that she hopes I sleep well. She is limited in sight, but she picks up on me having a hard day at work when she hears it in my voice or notices me being a little more quiet than usual. In turn, she asks what she can do for me. At 95, I should be asking what I can do for her!
Children - those who take life. Kids start out in this life acting like little leeches, hanging on for dear life to their parents, sucking the very life from them. As time goes on, they want nothing to do with the parent, leaving them alone to fend for themselves, even in the advancing years of "old age". One of the things I hear my mom say quite often is that she wished this friend or that one had someone as good as her children to take care of them in their elder years. It is a sad fact, but today's society often separates parents from children by not only miles, but also by the demands on one's time, energies, and abilities. In turn, kids end up missing out on the tremendous blessing of the wisdom of the parent and parents end up missing out on the awesome honor of seeing how their kids really function in this world.
Our writer puts the two together as a reminder that we are not to be easily separated from the structure God provided for our overall well-being. Parents are to raise us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, giving us a set of standards upon which we can base our life decisions and daily choices. Children are to not only listen to the wisdom they receive, but embrace it, and then replicate it in the lives of their own children. It is a circle of sorts, passing down from one generation to the next the foundation of loving God first, serving him with all your heart, and then living out that love in the other relationships you form in this world. We bring joy to our parents when we model good behavior, wise choices, and live as examples of Christ in this world. Honor is not something our parents owe us, it is something we owe to them. We bring it to them by the evidence of "foundational living" in our lives. Just sayin!
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