The Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

Would you be alive today if God’s Old Testament laws were still in place? God demanded in Deuteronomy 21 that any son who refused to obey his parents should be stoned. If I had known as a child that I should have been killed for disrespecting my parents I might have thought twice before letting my little defiant heart make itself known.

God knows his creation. He made everything you see out of nothing, so it makes sense that he knows the best, most beneficial way for this world, his world, to run. In this commandment he gives some clear directives on how to get the most out of this creation. This is the first commandment with a promise attached to it. God says that if this commandment is obeyed a long, enjoyable life is promised. Implicit in this promise is that if we fail to follow this commandment things will not go very well.

The simple fact is that God does not directly raise children nor does he govern countries with his physical presence. Instead God works through his representatives. They are the mask behind which God works. They are the hands God uses to keep order and peace in this world.

This commandment speaks to adults and children. As adults we no longer live under our parent’s roof and our relationship with them is not the same. The responsibility of treating our parents with respect and respecting others in authority, however, is still ours. God commands that children honor their parents and that everyone honor the government and others is in authority. Giving honor is more than just lip-service. It demands more than grudgingly obeying while looking for loop-holes and other excuses. Honoring means understanding that the word of those in authority should carry as much weight as if God himself had looked you in the eye and commanded it.

If you pictured God as the one asking, would you act differently when told to do something by that person in an authoritative position? If Jesus sat right next to you and asked you to obey your mother when she told you to finish your vegetables would you listen? If Jesus placed his hand on your shoulder and asked you to honor the President of the United States even though you don’t agree with everything he does would you? If Jesus looked you in the eye and asked you to do your best at the task assigned by your boss would you? I know I would. Then why is it so hard to show honor where honor is due? In life this God works through his representatives we ought to see their commands as coming from God.

It comes back to that rotten, old sinful nature inside of each of us. The Devil is amazingly good at his work. He is more than happy to help us forget that God is working through his representatives. We all can lament with Paul; the evil we do not want to do, this we keep on doing.

Welcome to life this side of eternity! We sin… we seek forgiveness… we are freed from our guilt because of Jesus… we strive day in and day out to keep God’s commands.

Permit a word to parents: It is not easy, the job you have undertaken. I am a father of less than two weeks and already I feel the weight of my new responsibility. As parents we have the responsibility to bring our children up in the way they should go, in God’s way. We stand for God, he has put is in control in the home. It is our responsibility to keep control of the house. Our sinful children are more than happy to challenge our control, but we represent God and God does not leave room for this role-reversal. Look around and you will see family units crumbling everywhere. With God’s help we are in a position to raise our children in the fear and knowledge of their God. Here are some passages that may help.

Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

The rod here is the same word used for a shepherd’s crook. It was used to guide and discipline. This is not speaking specifically to spanking with a rod but to careful correcting and guiding. Parents must discipline our children, the next passage shows what is at stake.

Proverbs 19:18 “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death”

Proverbs 23:13 “So do not withhold discipline from a child, if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.”

The worst thing that could happen to a parent would be to see a child fall from faith and spend eternity in hell. Children do not know better than parents. They need to be trained and guided down God’s road. They need to be taught about Jesus.

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

I have shared this passage with beleaguered parents before. What truth and comfort it holds! Discipline is no more fun for the giver than the receiver but that does not make it bad nor does it mean it is not worth it. You are God’s representative and are in a position to help secure your child in righteousness so that when they die they spend eternity in heaven.

God bless parents everywhere! Their task is of utmost importance. Thankfully parents do not raise their children alone. God works through parents, he also promises to bless them. Without God parenting would seem impossible but with God we have the tools.

Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God that we do not dishonor or anger our parents and others in authority, but honor, serve, and obey them, and give them love and respect.


About vicarhoff

I am thrilled and honored to be serving as vicar/intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School for a whole year!

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Church, Preschool and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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