Will Our Children Honor God?

What is honor? To honor is to show reverence and respect, to hold in high esteem, pay homage to, etc. Unfortunately, the whole concept of honor has become increasingly rare in our culture. It has often been replaced with flippancy at best, and utter disdain and denigration at worst. Case in point: a while back I witnessed two young men wildly racing their skateboards on top of and around a war memorial honoring men of our city who had died in combat.

With the diminishing practice of honor in the wider culture, it’s imperative for Christian parents and the church to teach children what honor is—what it looks like, sounds like, and involves—and why God is worthy of the highest honor.

Jerry Bridges shows us where to start:

It is impossible to be devoted to God if one’s heart is not filled with the fear of God. It is the profound sense of veneration and honor, reverence and awe that draws forth from our hearts the worship and adoration that characterizes true devotion to God. In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God. We must begin to view Him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to Him who is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the entire universe.

(The Practice of Godliness—Godliness Has Value for All Things, p. 21)

Parents, ministry leaders, and teachers: We must be on the front lines of instilling honor of God in the next generation. Do children see us honoring God, in the manner Jerry Bridges describes, in our homes? In our worship services? In our classrooms? 

How can parents begin instilling honor of God into the lives of their children from the very earliest ages? The late Pastor Andrew Murray (1828-1917) offers some very biblical and practical advice,

The young child is guided, not by reflection or argument, but by feeling and affection. He cannot yet realize and honor the unseen God…The child can only honor what he sees to be worthy of honor. And this is the parent’s high calling—always so to speak and act, so to live in the child’s presence, that honor may be spontaneously and unconsciously rendered…

Above all, let parents remember that honor really comes from God. Let them honor Him in the eyes of their children, and He will honor them there, too. Let them beware of this sin, honoring their child more than God; it is the sure way to grief for parents and children together. But from parents, who in everything seek to honor God, children will learn to honor God and them together; the parent who teaches his child to obey the fifth commandment has guided his feet into the way of all God’s commandments. A child’s first virtue is the honoring and obeying of his parents. 

(“The Children’s Commandment” quoted in Your Child’s Profession of Faith, Dennis Gundersen, p. 118)