I want to write this article about common sense to encourage that young people be taught how to honor their elders. We live in an age when the motto is, “if it feels good, do it”. We, as people, are born little egotistical beings yet things get worse when egotistical beings are encouraged and praised for being selfish. Legislation teaches us to love ourselves and our pleasures and personal gratification. How is that you may ask. Simple, we allow abortion so that a person can gratify his/her sexual desires without the risk of being “burdened” with another mouth to feed. We institute euthanasia so that we do not have to worry about our elders; just let them die and get out of the way. We wonder why school shootings have increased and continue to do so (not because of lack of gun control). The wisdom of the Word of God is so needed in this world today, especially for young people. We must learn how to respect others and the Word of God teaches that to all people. The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon (other than Jesus Christ), gives great advice on learning how to respect others by honoring your elders. He gives us specific instructions to follow and informs us of the results of applying his knowledge to our daily lives. Before we take a look at Solomon’s proverbs, I would like to check out our motivation for honoring our elders. The Apostle Paul gives us the motivation by taking a quote from the 10 commandments. This is what he was writing to the church in Ephesus. It was good motivation for them and is good for us as well.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. (Ephesians 6)
Paul speaks directly to children and their relationship to their parents. But when looking at the context of his epistle, we see a larger theme; respect for those who have authority over you. The American spirit of rugged individualism has it benefits but one of the negative aspects in this way of thinking is that you are your own authority and do not have to be submissive to anyone. That is definitely not true if you are a Christian. A true Christian is commanded to be submissive to God and to authority. Young people (all people) must be taught to be submissive because it is God’s desire and it is good for us. If you think you know it all and do not need advice from others then you are already on the wrong path and nothing but heartache and disaster await you. Why should we honor our elders? Paul explains when he quotes from the Torah. The word “honor” means to give weight to, to give priority, so in other words, it means that you are to give priority to your elders and not to yourself. As egotistical people (selfish) we want to give priority to ourselves yet when you learn how to honor your elders then you learn how to be less selfish, less self-centered and learn how to think of others, how to serve others instead of your own personal interests. That is a radical way of thinking in today’s ego-centric lifestyle. When you are egotistical you tend to self-destruct. When you serve others your character tends to grow and change for the better. So, why should we honor out elders?
1) It is a command from the chief, God, Himself. If I am His child then I obey, period.
2) There are promises that accompany this obedience.
In fact, this is the first of the 10 commandments that comes with a promise. If we honor our elders then we will have length of days on this earth as well as quality days. It will go well with us. What good would it do to live many days if every day is full of suffering and depression? God wants to bless us with long life and quality days but there is a catch (requirement). We must learn to respect others instead of being selfish. Let’s see how this ties in with what Solomon has to say. What specific actions do I need to take in order to honor my elders and those in authority over me?
The key to success is obedience. Obedience is a sign of a personal relationship with God. If you know Him and love Him then you will obey His Word. When you obey God then that obedience carries over to your relationship with your parents. Here is what Solomon has to say;
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; 9 Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck. (Proverbs)
It all begins with respect for the Lord God. The word “fear” in this passage does not mean that you are standing in the corner afraid that God is going to “strike you down”. Instead, “fear” means that you respect Him. You know His worth and because of that you choose to give Him the respect that He deserves. When you have this attitude, you are on the path to wisdom because you are ready to be taught by God through His Word. The fool, on the other hand, does not think that he needs to be taught anything by anybody. He thinks that he has his own wisdom and it is enough. He is on the path to destruction. In fact, God tells us how we can recognize a wise man in Psalm 1
2 his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1)
Do you delight (find pleasure) in the Word of God? Do you meditate on the Word of God day and night? To meditate means to study, to ponder/contemplate, and to talk about. Is the Word of God constantly running through your mind?
Wisdom is manifested in the fact that you want to take advice from your parents. They are older than you. They are wiser than you. They are looking out for you. Why would you not want to listen to them? Do you appreciate the advice that you parents offer? Do you apply what they teach you? Or, do you think that you have it all figured out and that your parents are “idiots”? I have found out a secret in this life, the older that you get, the wiser your parents become. The secrete is that they were wise all along and you were just too foolish to realize it.
There are some specific results of being obedient to God, to your parents, and to those who are in authority over you. Solomon reveals them to us in his proverbs.
1) Life and peace;
My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3)
Again, we are promised length of days and years of life as well as peace (quality years). It is God who gives these things and His condition is that we obey Him, honor our parents and our elders. Do you seek peace? Would you like to live a long life with quality days? Maybe you should decide today to honor and respect God as well as your parents and elders.
2) Direction in life;
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3)
God will reveal His path in this life full of winding roads that lead to dead ends or destruction. God wants you to be successful, to finish the course of life victorious but you have to travel His path if you want to finish well. He is ready to reveal it to you step by step. How will He do it?
20 My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; 21 Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life (Proverbs 6)
God reveals His path through His Word, through His teachings. Solomon is speaking to his son in this passage and the teachings (commands) to which is refers are from the Word of God. As King of Israel, Solomon had to write by hand a copy of the Torah and read from it everyday of his life. Having done that, what do you think he would have taught his son? His teachings and commands were directly from the Word of God. If we sit under the wisdom of the Word of God then It will guide us when we walk down this road of life. It will watch over us. It will talk (share) Its wisdom with us. It will be lamp to show us the path. It will reprove us (show us where we are going wrong) as well as discipline us to stay on the right path. Who would not want a benefit like that?
3) Protection from evil;
5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. 6 “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you. (Proverbs 4)
Wisdom is found in the Word of God and if you acquire this wisdom then it will guard you and watch over you at all times. You will know how to act and when to act. You will know who to avoid and who to trust. You get “inside” information.
4) Honor and a healthy mind;
My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. 3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3)
If you are obedient to God and honor your elders then you will find favor with both God and man. Also, you will have a health/sound mind, even in the later years of your long life. The phrase “good repute” can be translated “healthy mind” or “sound mind”. Many people fear getting old because they are afraid that they will lose their senses (mind). God promises that He will keep your mind healthy and sound if you will obey Him completely.
Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. 8 “Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. (Proverbs 4)
You will be honored and exalted at the right time, by God, if you will choose to obey Him while you are young. Honor God by honoring your parents and your elders.
Where do you stand today, my friend? Do you respect God, His Word, and your elders or are you a self-centered person who only thinks about “getting yours” and “looking out for #1”? Would you like to have direction in life, length of quality days, protection, favor, and a healthy mind? All of these things are at your disposal if you will humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and do what He says. Or, you can choose your own path and be a fool, as Solomon has said.