This is the sixth post in a series based on Wayne Mack’s book Strengthening Your Marriage. Our small group’s couples have been walking through this Bible study together covering these important subjects:
A Godly Marriage — Godly marriages reflect God’s design.
A Husband’s Love — To be the love she needs and God commands him to be.
Learning to Communicate — Twelve ways to maintain good marital communications.
Financially One — Five financial principles for the married couple.
A Real and Sustained Romance — Increasing intimacy between the husband and his wife.
The entire series of lessons are tethered to Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Specific to child-rearing, Dr. Mack writes in his book how essential it is that the husband and wife are in complete agreement on how they will raise their children:1
God’s revealed purpose for your marriage is that the two of you become one flesh. You are to experience oneness in every area of your life, and that includes in the area of children. And you can develop genuine unity in your child raising efforts by mutually adopting and seeking to implement God’s plan for raising children. Remember, it is not just one of many ways. It is the only way for a Christian to go.
Last Sunday, we honed in on the subject of honor and how best to teach it to our little ones. The short answer: demonstrate it. There’s no room for hypocrisy in the home—especially when it comes to kids. They have their own built-in lie-detector!
Proverbs 22:6 tell us to “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (NIV). One way to “start children off” is to teach them the difference between honor and respect. These words are often used by people interchangeably and incorrectly.
Honor is a gift, whereas respect is earned.
A good example of this can be found at the highest level of office in the land, the President of the United States. While we may not respect the individual who is serving (or has previously served) in that position, we are called to honor them. The person may have in no way earned our respect, but lives—many lives were given so that they may hold that position. They are in a position of honor.
One such way we can demonstrate honor for this office is by praying for them (see 1 Tim 2:2).
THREE WAYS TO DEVELOP HONOR2
There are a number of ways we can teach our children to honor others; many more than the three listed below. Regardless, our aim is to “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10, ESV). And again, this must be practiced in and out of the home by the parents for it to be effective.
First, we need to treat people as special. “A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him” (Prov 12:14). We can treat people as special by our words and deeds, meaning our tongues and actions.
Second, we need to do more than what is expected. Doing what you’re told to do is obedience, but when something is added to it is honor. Moreover, our honoring actions are not for self, but for others. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them… you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” (Matt 6:1-5).
Third, we need to deal with a bad attitude. Those terrible tantrums are better left unsaid. “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth. For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so the churning of anger produces strife” (Prov 30:32-33).
Additionally, we see in passages like Prov 1:8; 6:20 that children are to honor the father and mother. Dads, don’t let the little ones mistreat mom. Remind them that you will not tolerate the dishonoring of her. Be clear and definitive, “That is my wife. You are not to treat her that way, do you understand?”
Our group also discussed a number of practical ways we could help our children to see the importance of honor and respect. Examples included everything from how to address adults to the opening of doors. Ultimately, we can raise children with honor by displaying it first in the home, between a husband and his wife.