Back in the days when we were young and very good at mastery, we recited the Ten Commandments as laid down in Exodus 20 with resilience. It looked like our love for Christ was budding on our faces yet we did not quite figure out the comprehensive purpose of the Commandments. This Fourth Commandment directly touches on all persons as we are all grown children to our parents.
The Fourth Commandment is the only one with a promise attached to it.
We understood obedience and fortunately our naivety resonated with the submission quite well. Along the way, as we grew up, many of us found ourselves moving from respect to disobedience. Flashing back, I realize the phrase “so that you may live a long life” was not well elaborated neither did we even notice it. Conversely, we can rephrase it to mean “so that you may not die prematurely.”
Why human life cycles defy the Fourth Commandment
I picture a recurrence of rebelliousness based on ignorance of its repercussions through generations. As we get busier trying to make ends meet, we tend to delegate our children’s Bible Study to schools and churches.
We forget that the indelible bond God created between a parent and children is a permanent responsibility to lead our kids to heaven. Children will grow up and leave those schools. They will also move from one parish to another as they relocate. In the process, they lose touch as they meet new people.
On the other hand, nothing can erase the parent-child bond no matter how far apart they live.
Some of the children end up disappointing us in the better part of their teenage and early adulthood. We may be partly to blame just like our parents may not escape the blame for our misbehavior.
Before I go into the secrets, let’s, first of all, understand the living a long life that God spoke about in the Fourth Commandment.
The opposite of not living long is dying prematurely. Death occurs across all ages, some die as toddlers and others go beyond 100 years. Many Christians have literally understood premature death to mean dying before the 70 years stated in the Bible (Psalms 90:10). I do not dispute that but looking at it from another perspective, it could have a hidden meaning.
The death that leads to eternal life (necessitated by God) can occur when the Lord feels a person has accomplished the mission God intended for him on earth. Saint Joan of arc was one such example. You can read about her here. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2017/03-04/joan-of-arc-warrior-heretic-saint-martyr/
On the other hand, the real premature death is instigated by the devil because of the exposure of the said person to sin thus being too vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one.
As much as our human nature doesn’t allow us to judge the spiritual state of a deceased person, let’s take an example of five people of ages 30, 40, 60, 80, and 100 years dying on the same day in different places across the globe. Assuming that they were all great people of God headed for eternal life, what reason would we give for their early deaths?
We leave it to God because He is the one who understands better.
However, among other reasons, they may have accomplished what God intended for them on earth which reverses their death from premature to full-term death!
Fourth Commandment rules
Our human nature doesn’t like rules and regulations whether in school or at work because they tie us down to discipline. We naturally dislike controls.
Going back to God’s attachment to the Fourth Commandment, we are all children to our parents as the hierarchy transcends to the older folks and descends to our kids and grandchildren. So, God actually speaks to all of us in this Commandment but one thing I capture is that it is a permanent work in progress.
Children pick a character from parents.
Parents are at the center-stage of this whole activity. Since everyone wants to live a long life, I collected some points to help instill these values in our children. We cannot keep telling kids God loves them without demonstrating that without them loving Him back, they are bound to lose!
Sirach 3: 1-16 disintegrates the Fourth Commandment caution into bits of information that if we subscribe to, we cannot miss to qualify for the promised long life. Without further ado, let me explain the teachings as they appear in the Bible.
The Lord has given fathers authority over their children and given children the obligation to obey their mothers.
Considering that God said a man and a woman will both leave their parents to begin their family, this theme suggests that the authority also applies when the kids are still dependent on their parents.
Since whoever is reading this article is not a child, it takes you back a few steps to help you figure out at what point you might have gone against the Lord’s Word and failed to repent.
Remember even in the law of the land, if you fail to appear in court for a case, a warrant of arrest is issued and once you get caught, the charges increase.
Therefore, disobeying a parent and declining to repent are two mistakes.
Begin by making up with the parent. You will understand why as you read on.
If you respect your father, you can make up for your sins and if you honor your mother you are earning great wealth.
What does God really mean when He tells us this? The Lord may decline to answer your prayers or to forgive your sins if you have no respect and honor for your parents as the Fourth Commandment instructs.
As a result, you will not earn great wealth. Wealth in a bigger picture includes good health and living a comfortable life.
Going against this statement can sink you into poverty no matter how much you pray.
If you respect your father, one day your own children will make you happy; the Lord will hear your prayers.
I said earlier on that rebelliousness replicates in consequent generations.
It will not be long before you also shed the tears your parents shed because of your ill behavior towards them. Your children may treat you badly not because they know you left your parents to suffer, but because you never garnered enough points to warrant their good treatment.
Every employee has a file in the human resources department. The employer files any documents concerning your conduct at work in that file. At the end of the year, the documents speak for you.
Your annual appraisal can, therefore, give you a salary boost and a bonus. Likewise, you may get one or none of the above because your file judged you.
The Lord also maintains His own type of a file for each of us. The clutter on the Fourth Commandment page is heavy enough to soak the other Commandments pages in the mud.
If you obey the Lord by honoring your father and making your mother happy, you will live a long life.
When you put a smile on your parent’s faces, you’re actually doing the same on the Lord’s face. Your parents are the bridge you cannot afford to ignore if you want to reach out to God on the other side of the river. Otherwise, you will slip into the river and drown because you have not put your parents in the mood to grab and save you.
Obey your parents as if you were their slave.
What this means is that even if your parents are on the wrong, try to solve the problem with utmost respect so that you get to a consensus without making them angry.
“Slave” is the keyword here. If you’re lucky to have at least one employee or more, you know what that means. If the disagreement is too heavy on you, you’d rather keep quiet and let it pass. That is what an employee does to enable him to keep putting food on his table through his earnings from his employer.
Honor your father in everything you do and say, so that you may receive his blessing.
Your words and deeds whether in the presence or absence of your father ought to give him a name worth respecting. This is because there is power in spoken words.
If your father keeps saying my son just drinks like a fool, you are likely to gradually move from worse to worst.
When your parents appreciate your behavior and support, their lips will be full of praises and that is powerful enough to trickle down God’s blessings upon you.
When parents give their blessing, they give strength to their children’s homes, but when they curse their children, they destroy the very foundations.
You surely have a home and your greatest desire in that home is a steadfast family full of peace. As much as your parents may be living miles away, whatever they think or say about you contributes to the stability of your home.
Parents are in fact some small gods that we have to cautiously relate with without bruising them.
Never seek honor for yourself at your father’s expense; it is not to your credit if he is dishonored.
“At your father’s expense.” Don’t leave your father crying foul because of your mistake.
You honestly can’t afford to divert your father’s hard-earned money to use on something you hadn’t agreed on and probably doesn’t benefit you or him! Your father will definitely come to know the reality and even without him saying a word, his hidden tears puncture your life.
“It is not to your credit.” In the long-run, you will lose simply because of a blunder you could avoid.
Your own honor comes from the respect that you show to your father, if children do not honor their mothers, it is their own disgrace.
Even the most arrogant or brutal personality expects to be respected. That is the irony of life. But God tells us here that you only deserve that demand if you respect your parents.
Surprisingly, the people you deal with may not even know the relationship between you and your parents.
The truth is, the moment you neglect God’s order to honor your parents, you invite the evil spirit to take control. It then manifests in the folks you expect honor from.
Sadly, you may not relate it to the relationship with your parents if you do not crave to understand the Word of God.
My son, take care of your father when he grows old; give him no cause for worry as long as he lives.
If your parents ever die before you, they should go smiling at all the good things you ever did for them. For instance, if they happen to live for long and get weary, their energy levels have to go down.
Don’t let your parents strain doing their house chores. Employ someone or live with your parents so that you can closely monitor their lives and health. Their peace of mind is a huge chunk of blessing in waiting for you.
NB: This is just but an example, there is more to it.
Be sympathetic even if his mind fails him; don’t look down on him just because you are strong and healthy.
You can never exchange your parents for others and if they die, there is no replacement. In whichever state they are, continue to love them and support them.
A failed mind can make the affected person distraught. God is telling you that since you are sane, it’s your responsibility to bend low and take all the insults that may come with your parents’ condition. In one word, persevere.
The Lord will not forget the kindness you show to your father; it will help you to make up for your sins.
No matter how much you have lived in sin, God will never forget the care you gave your parents. The moment you go back to God with a changed mind, ready to discard the sin from your life, it will take him lesser time to absolve you from your sins if you obeyed His Fourth Commandment.
In the real sense, you were stocking accolades.
When you are in trouble, the Lord will remember your kindness and will help you; your sins will melt away like frost in warm sunshine.
I hope by now you realize that you cannot detach yourself from your parents whether they are still alive or not.
God looks back to your relationship with your parents any time you cry out to Him. If your parents are genuinely unhappy with you, I wonder how God will handle your prayers but I guess this is one of the reasons some people claim they have prayed for years but don’t experience changes.
Go back to your parents and sincerely make up with them if you recognize some blame in you. This is not a simple phone affair, facial contact is paramount. Let them know that the one and the only reason that has made you travel all the way is to seek their forgiveness.
Those who abandon their parents or give them cause for anger may as well be cursing the Lord; they are already under the Lord’s curse.
In simple English; if you are not with your parents, you are not with the Lord.
You are the mountain that is sitting right between you and God and since you cannot roll yourself away to reach out to the Lord, you remain static.
Isaiah 22:22; I will give Him complete authority under the King, the descendant of David. He will have the keys of office; what He opens, no one will shut, and what He shuts, no one will open.
One clarification I have heard often is that once Jesus shuts off the devil from your life, no one can ever have the audacity to open that loophole again. I am in total agreement with this explanation and I like the way people give a loud Amen to it. Jesus has the keys that open the gates to all the heavenly promises.
Do you realize that disobedience of the Fourth Commandment suggests you have shown the Lord your back? How would He communicate with someone who isn’t looking at Him?
Take note of the word “complete” in the verse (Isaiah 22:22).. Let me simply say that without Jesus you are caged in a cell.
If your actions necessitate a curse, even if it is unspoken, nobody can reverse it except Jesus. Remember to reach Jesus, you have to go through your parents. Parents give way first and then Jesus rubberstamps.
The Fourth Commandment as explained by the writer of the scripture in Sirach affirms that parents hold the keys of the heavenly gates here on earth. They have the keys of office; what they shut, no one will open and what they open, no one will shut. No matter how much you may seek counsel from peers or friends, this is beyond any human being. Care to open a friend’s inner eyes by sharing this article.