Why does the Bible say, "Honor your father and mother"?
"Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids," read a sign in Brussels, Belgium.
Or, as author Jean Kerr wrote, "The real menace in dealing with a 5-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like one."
The fifth commandment is designed to keep parents sane by giving children a principle to guide their behavior and attitudes toward their parents. I asked my friends to tell me how they honor their parents. If their behavior matches their answers, their parents are not only sane but very happy.
"I honor my parents by giving them hugs and kisses. I also honor them by buying them TCBY treats," says Angela, age 10.
Frozen yogurt with hugs and kisses! If TCBY could package this combination, I'm sure its stock would soar.
"I obey my mother and father by getting up in the mornings as sweet as pie," says Kaitlin, 7.
I'm still working on this one. When I get up in the morning, I'm grateful if I don't hurt myself by tripping over the furniture.
Kaitlin also told me, "When the Bible says your days will be longer (if you honor your father and mother), it means you will live longer."
In a society obsessed with living longer through exercise and nutrition, how many doctors and health-food companies recommend honoring parents? Yet a long life is a promise from God for those who honor their parents.
"I honor my parents by obeying," says Christine, 10. "Like when they say to get them some water, I do it. I treat them like a king and queen."
I'll bet Christine's parents treat her like a princess. It's so easy to take parents for granted. Can you imagine a society where the Bart Simpson attitude wasn't glorified? Why imagine when it's within your power to be gracious to your parents instead of disrespectful? They're not perfect, but neither are you.
"I love my mother and father," says Gardner, 11. "They are the best. I try to obey them. I know they love me, and I love them."
Something tells me that Gardner will never visit a psychiatrist's office in an effort to find himself. Because he knows his parents love him unconditionally, he's secure and able to love them in return. Love fosters love.
Years ago, I saw my friend Peter reprimand his 2-year-old son for continuing to throw soapsuds on a car after being told to stop. Peter calmly asked his son to hold out his hand. Following a gentle tap on the hand, his son began to cry.
At first, I was confused because the light tap hardly warranted tears. Suddenly, I understood and said to Peter, "Your disapproval hurts worse than the tap on the hand." He nodded.
Only a father who loves his son can evoke such a response. This is the power of unconditional love.
God's love for his children is akin to parents' love for theirs with one very important difference: Even the best parents have flaws. God is perfect.
Jesus is the ultimate example of a son honoring his father. He listened to his Father's voice and did only what he heard from his Father. His love for his Father and desire to please him was so great that he could say, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him" (John 5:23). Their will was one.
Obedience and honor are interconnected. The Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus humbled himself and "became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
Point to ponder: God has promised to bless those who honor their parents. Scripture to remember: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right," (Ephesians 6:1).
Question to consider: How do you honor your parents?
Inspire your children by reading this column with them and visiting the Kids Talk About God website at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
© 2004 CAREY KINSOLVING