Sunday word BY PROSPER TINGINI
The fifth commandment states: “Honour your father and your mother, that the days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). Honouring means to confer a dignity. In this case, it is a mark of respect reserved for a parent. While there might be an absence of love, it gives a reverence to the respect. In most of our cultures such an honour is extended to the elders of our society.
To encourage this dignity for all elders, the Lord also commanded: “You shall rise up before the hoary head (white or greyish-white hair because of age), and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19: 32). As the Father of us all, we should not only honour God, but also fear Him so that we can be afraid of sin and refrain from it. The honour should thus cascade upwards from that of the biological parents to the elders of society and ultimately to the Lord our God. We used to bow down or even kneel down just to greet a parent in our culture, in almost the same manner as we do when we pray to the Lord. This practice is fast disappearing within the new generations of children. The authority of the parent, just as the authority of God, was unquestionable then. The modern world now teaches us to be equals, even to the point where a child calls a parent by the first name.
A father or mother should be loved and respected, just as we show our love and fear for the Lord. The combination of love and fear brings honour. Love is admiration or adoration for someone. Fear is the dread of committing a fault or a wrong that might anger an authority or a loved one. When that equilibrium is maintained, then respect prevails. A child who does not honour the parents is unlikely to get their blessings in life. Blessings bring divine fortunes in life. The first level of blessings normally comes from a parent, before that from the Lord. What a parent ordains or proclaims upon a child, God will maintain.
The scriptures carry numerous stories of fathers and even mothers blessing their children. What they proclaim in their blessings most often comes to pass.
Genesis 27 carries the story of Isaac blessing his sons, Jacob and Esau. Isaac loved Esau more, because as a hunter the son used to cook sumptuous meals for him. He thus intended to bless him for his good deeds. On the other hand, Rebecca, the mother, loved Jacob the younger son more. When the time for Isaac to give his blessings came, Rebecca tricked her husband into giving the more favourable blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. Despite the treachery, Isaac’s blessings upon Jacob prevailed and were even rubber-stamped by the Lord. They could not be reversed. The point is that when a child does good to parents, father or mother, what they say in blessings and appreciation will materialise in the future. In the above example, both the father Isaac and mother Rebecca were participants in the blessings. Parents are equals who should be respected and honoured equally.
It is common these days that a significant percentage of families are led by single parents, mostly the mothers. The fathers have either passed on, divorced, or just abrogated on their responsibilities as parents. Some fathers, both of those who have remained within or abandoned the family, can terrorise both the mother and the children. It would be difficult for children living under these conditions to honour the monster parent, whatever the scenario. However, never should a child forsake a parent for their bad deeds. Continue to honour both parents even in the face of what might be perceived as lack of both love and care. There is a Father up there in the Heavens who will never abandon a child. God the Father will always be there for every child no matter the situation. Keep honouring your biological parents no matter what, and the Father in the Heavens will bless you.
It is the duty of parents not only to take care of children, but to love them too. A child who doesn’t get the much-needed love within the home will look for it elsewhere. A parent is a child’s first love. A child will always start by loving those closest to them, especially the mother because she is initially the main source of care and food. A father, because he is always close by. The same feelings may filter through to the other siblings within the same family. If a father does not show love to a child, that child will look for the fatherly love from someone else. Daughters who lack fatherly love are prone to fall in love with older men to seek a replacement. Sons who lack parental guidance are more likely to be sucked into gangs that seek dominance or which can lead them astray. The behaviours of the mothers can also influence the children in later life. Our show of love to our children is thus critical in their upbringing. It may shape their destiny. Never shy away from telling your children, in words, that you love them.
Our Creator and Heavenly Father loved us so much that He gave us everything. Genesis 1:29-31, God said: “Behold I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with fruit in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given you every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (end of quote). God loved us so much that He gave us almost everything of value He had created for us to enjoy. On top of the love, He provided full provisions for our survival without reservations.
Parents need to emulate God. Love alone does not put food on the table, nor pay fees for school or college education. I know most parents make all the sacrifices to ensure their children are fully catered for. However, there are those parents, the majority of them fathers, who just father children everywhere yet abandon them completely and start new lives elsewhere. They leave that burden to the mothers. A few of the mothers would also want to pass the burden to the grandmothers in the rural areas. This is not the right love for our children. It’s abandonment.
While children’s characters may affect the love from the parents, every child has a right to a parent’s love. Whether stubborn, dull or disabled in any way, it is the parent’s responsibility to feed, nurture and provide the needs of every child, unconditional love. Both the mother and father should provide this love and care.
Prosper Tingini is the President of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org