For parents, verse 4 is God’s will for us whatever the response of our children. Even if they are not willing to follow us, we must lead them. You may be the father of a prodigal, waiting and praying and pacing and watching. Never give up. One day he will “come to himself” and come home, if he knows you want him to.
Why give these gifts (2b-3)
To summarize: God calls us to obey and honor godly parents, and to be godly parents. Now, why are these commands so crucial to our families, our culture, and our nation? Paul gives us God’s answer: “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” This is the first of the Ten Commandments given to us with a promise. And such a promise this is. Let’s unpack it for a moment, and learn two facts.
First, obedience and honor for our parents are prerequisites to the blessings of God on our families and society. Not because these commitments earn God’s favor, but because they position us to receive the prosperity and blessing God wants to give.
Imagine for a moment a nation in which every person obeyed these simple commands. A nation in which every child obeyed his parents in the Lord, in which parents were godly and children were obedient to their godly leadership. A nation in which every child honored his mother and father with his actions, motives, and thoughts. Imagine how God could bless and prosper such a nation. “That it may go well with you” is his promise to such a people.
Could it be that our nation’s problems have roots in this very issue? One writer described America’s current state perceptively:
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; bigger freeways, but smaller souls. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but less answers; more medicine, but less health.
“We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, but not life to years. We’ve been to the moon and back, but won’t cross the street to meet a neighbor.
“We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.
“These are the times of tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships; more leisure but less fun; more food but less nutrition. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce; fancier houses but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.”
To be sure, not all the problems in our nation or your family stem from disobedience to godly parents. Natural disasters and diseases are part of our fallen world. Terrorist attacks result from free will misused horrifically. But think back over your life and that of your family. How many problems could have been avoided by obedience to these simple rules for living?
Second, obedience to godly parents is crucial to the souls of our children.
Do not take for granted the spiritual health of your children. Just because they are in church does not mean they are close to God. Satan tempts them just as harshly as anyone else, perhaps more so. And he knows that the best way to hurt us is to hurt them. He is a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. And he’s after your kids.
I discovered these facts this week: the top discipline problems in school today are rape, robbery, assault, burglary, arson, bombing, and murder. More than half of America’s teenagers believe that a murderous rampage could erupt at their school. Immoral peer pressure is enormous: 52% of high school seniors have used alcohol in the last month; marijuana and cocaine use among teenagers has doubled in the last decade; 1.1 million teenagers are addicted to gambling; the number of teenagers having cosmetic surgery has doubled in the last seven years; three million adolescents will become infected with a sexually-transmitted disease this year; teenage pregnancies have increased 500% in the last generation. Then average teenager will spend 12,000 hours in school but 15,000 hours watching television. 68% say they pay more attention to their own views than God’s.
Can you see what our young people are facing? There is a spiritual war going on for their future and ours. God says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We must fight this war with spiritual weapons. Being godly parents is crucial; obeying godly parents is vital. The souls of the next generation are at stake.
So, where do you need to do business with God for the sake of your family today?
Children of all ages: are you living in rebellion against your parents? Deceit or resentment? Dishonor? Has it simply been a while since you honored your mother, since you told her how much you love her and how valuable she is to you? If we are not right with our parents, we are wrong with God. And with ourselves.
Parents of all ages: are you feeding your children’s souls? By your example and teaching? What if they became what you are spiritually? Probably they will.
Let’s turn Mother’s Day from a holiday to a holy day. Let’s decide to obey God’s word, right now.