“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.”
– Proverbs 23:24–25
Honoring our parents is not always an easy task, especially in adulthood, when determining how to submit to our mothers and fathers is often not clear to us. Yet there is a general rule we can follow in order to make sure that godly parents are honored in the main direction in our lives, and that rule is outlined in Proverbs 23:24–25.
If God rejoices over His people when they do righteousness and please Him (Zeph. 3:9–20), godly parents will certainly rejoice when their sons and daughters honor them by doing what is right. As we read in today’s proverb, righteous and wise children are the cause of much joy in their parents, as any mother or father of these kinds of children will tell you. This reality is to be a motivation for our actions. Since we are to honor our mothers and fathers (Ex. 20:12), we are to do things that will cause them to rejoice. The deeds that will cause them to rejoice are deeds birthed in righteousness and wisdom, so we must therefore endeavor to act wisely and in righteousness in order to honor our parents and make them joyful.
Parents can encourage their sons and daughters to do that which will please them through regular instruction in the commandments of the Lord. Taking time to teach children our Father’s righteous way at every opportunity, as Deuteronomy 6:4–9 encourages us, helps our children to understand how they may apply the law of God in every circumstance in life, producing both wisdom and faithfulness. Such instruction can be carried out not only with small children but even with those who have grown and left the home. Regular conversations about spiritual matters are an invaluable way to convey what we have learned to our adult children, all of whom need help in learning how to be faithful to the Lord.
Of course, there will be some of us whose parents do not consider it an honor when we act according to the wisdom of Christ (which is often folly to the world). In such cases, honoring them will not mean that we ignore our duty to do what is good and wise (Lev. 19:2). To seek to please our parents by ignoring wisdom and righteousness ultimately ends up dishonoring them, for it gives them another opportunity to praise that which is wrong to the detriment of their own souls.
Parents who still have children at home should take every opportunity they can to make sure they learn the teachings of our holy faith. Catechism memory, home devotionals, Sunday school, and Lord’s Day worship are all opportunities for children to learn what pleases God. Adult children can seek to learn from their godly parents through initiating conversations about spiritual things, studying the Bible together.
Passages for Further Study
Proverbs 1:8–9; 15:20
1 Timothy 5:17