Parental Guidance Suggested

"Honor your father and mother so that you'll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you." (from The Message, by Eugene Peterson)

This is the fourth commandment. It comes early so you'll remember it.

How do we honor our parents? There is a wise woman who once told one of the authors that she never did anything to get in trouble, even when she had left home, because she always thought, "What would my mother think?" This would be an excellent example of honoring your parents.

When you honor your parents, you're preserving a long line of history in your family. What you do reflects on all your ancestors. If you were to be a violent criminal, when people heard your name, they wouldn't be likely to think of your Aunt Hortense who won the Nobel Peace Prize. They would think of you and how you besmirched your family name.

When you fail to honor your parents, you create tension in your family. This carries on to your children, and they learn through your actions how they will treat you when you're older. Think carefully, how you speak, how you act, how you treat others. It's just as your parents taught you through their actions and their words. And if it isn't what they taught you, if it isn't their values you reflect, what you do is still a reflection on them.

Does this mean we do everything our parents tell us to do? By no means! If what your parents tell you to do, if what they teach you, is immoral or illegal, it's okay to say no. It is better to stand up for what is right than to obey what is wrong. How do you know what is right? Try reading your Bible. It's that dusty book up on the top shelf. The one with the pristine leather cover. Your Bible should look used. Your Bible should be used. Often.

You should know what chapter in Exodus the commandments are found in. You should know where to find the Sermon on the Mount. You should be able to find the Psalms. You should know the difference between the Old and New Testaments. If you don't read the scriptures, you don't have the opportunity to hear what God has planned for you. Remember, you're the only one who can do what you do.

Back to parents. Is it a good idea for kids to do what their parents ask? Absolutely (unless, as noted earlier, this activity is illegal). Your parents love you. Your parents care for you. Your well-being is important to them, just as it is to God. We cannot raise ourselves. We rely on our parents to act as God's agents in teaching us the way.

How have you honored your parents today? Or set an example for your children to honor?