I was recently re-reading the book Humility by C. J. Mahaney and was struck by two sentences (written in the context of helping our children to grow in their biblical understanding of humility): “Ultimately, that’s what parenting is mostly about—it’s about preparing our children for the final day. All parenting is ultimately a preparation for that day when your child will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account.” Wow, what a sobering thought!
There are several truths that (for whatever reason) have become marginalised in the church at large. One, of course, is the fourth commandment; and another is the fifth commandment. Children are commanded by God to honour their parents. But most in our society do not. Sadly, this is often the case even of those raised in homes with believing parents who have raised them in good churches.
I can’t think of a better way to honour my parents than to live a life that honours their God. And conversely, to dishonour the God whom they love is the ultimate form of parental dishonour. If I reject the God of the Bible whom my parents worship and serve, then I have not only trampled the first four commandments but have also transgressed the fifth.
In recent years scores of books and articles in periodicals and the blogosphere have lamented the high percentage of young people who have left the faith of their fathers. There have been many attempts to explain this sad state of affairs. I do not recall anyone mentioning the fifth commandment in this regard. The fact remains that when a child of a believer departs from the faith, he is not only guilty of dishonouring God, but also of sinning against his parents. I will not attempt to explain the many factors that play into such an outcome, but I do want to appeal to children: Honour your father and mother by honouring their God. You can do so by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Repent of your sin and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour!
Parents, we too have a responsibility in this regard. Let us make sure that we speak and live in such a way that our children will obey the gospel (Romans 6:17). By doing so they will honour our God—and us as well.
The apostle Paul exhorted believing fathers, “Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). He did so with the backdrop of the fifth commandment (see vv. 1-3). I can only conclude from this that whether or not my children obey the fifth commandment is largely dependent upon me raising them in such a way that they will do so.
Parents, let us seek with greater zeal to obey the first four commandments. As we do so then we will be in a much better position to command our children to obey us when we tell them in Jesus’ name to believe the gospel. Their obedient response will glorify God and will honour us.
In another book, titled Gospel-Empowered Parenting, pastor and author William Farley writes along similar lines as Mahaney: “Christian parenting is the process of preparing our children for the Day of Judgment. We do that by transferring our worldview to them. Our worldview is the sum of our beliefs, values, purposes and self-control. Parenting has not succeeded until God’s worldview has conquered our child’s heart.” And when it does then our God is honoured, and so are we. Again, this is a sobering thought. One day my children will stand before God and will give an account of how they responded to His self-revelation, not only via creation and conscience, but ultimately via the Lord Jesus Christ. As a parent, especially as their father, I will be very much responsible. If they hear, “Depart from Me; I never knew you!” then my heart will be crushed. No wonder in heaven tears will need to be wiped away from the cheeks of believers (Revelation 21:4)! But oh the joy of hearing the Lord say to my children, “Well done! Enter into the joy of the Lord—forever!”
May God give us the grace we need to invest in the spiritual welfare of our children that at the Judgement Seat of Christ we will smile with joy as they honour their Saviour. What a supreme way to honour their parents!