“WISDOM OF LIVING (7): DUTY” By Pastor YAU
President John F. Kennedy, one of the more popular presidents of modern American history, said something like this at his inaugural ceremony. He said, “Do not ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” He was talking about duty instead of privilege. In today’s society, not many people like to hear the word “duty”, because it represents burden, giving, sacrifice, restrictions, etc. But we all know the importance of duty in the building of a strong nation. What will a nation became if her citizens all ask for their privilege but no one wants to fulfill his duties.
The same is true in small life circles: family, school, workplace and so on. It is the selfless giving, the contribution and the fulfillments of duty that make any of these civic institutions strong. The Bible has so much to say about duties, especially in the book of Proverbs. Let us focus on the smallest of all civic circles, the family, and see how the sense of duty may help building it foundation as well as its future.
DUTIES OF PARENTS:
The Bible is full of teachings on the duties of parents. The position of parenthood comes with many duties to help building the foundation of family. Among all the duties, large and small, here are some of the more obvious areas.
1) WORDS OF WISDOM: Many chapters in Proverbs start with the encouragement from the father to his son to listen, and to follow, the words of wisdom of the father. Most parents, if not all, will admit that they do not always speak words of wisdom. Many of the words of parents are negative, angry, critical and dejecting. Our words are ways communicating our thoughts as well as hearts. While material provision is important in raising children, it is lour words that last long in their lives. You may ask where you may get help of obtaining wisdom. In James 1:5, the Bible encourages us who lack wisdom to ask God and He will be happy to give. This carries the mandate of our close walk with God, more than just a casual relationship or being Sunday Christians. When we have God as our guide each day in our lives, we will have His wisdom in talking to our children.
2) FULFILLING DUTIES: God has placed each one of us in a family with a manual of duties. He expects us to perform them to the best of our ability. Just as each character in a play is required to do his duties, parents are placed in families to do theirs. These include provision, character building, value imparting, coaching and many others related to the formation of life. Many families were broken when parents neglect or abandon their duties.
3) BUILDING STRONG BASE OF FAITH: This is more than just being casual church members or participating in church activities. It means a close walk with God, learning and applying the truth in daily life. The common base of faith in God provides a closer network and value in family relationship.
DUTIES OF CHILDREN:
The duties of children are best summed up in the popular phrase: HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER” as quoted in many Scriptural verses like Exodus ; Eph. 6:1-4 and I Peter 5:5. The definition of HONOR includes at least the following:
1) HONOR means RESPECT: When God placed the 5th Commandment, honor parents, in the first part of the Ten Commandments, He intended to elevate the position of parents in the first category with that of God. Parents, with all their inadequacy and imperfection, are God’s agents placed in families to protect, direct, guard and provide for the family, and that deserves respect from the children. Many children and youth turn bad starting from not respecting their parents. When a child disrespects a parent, he disrespects God.
2) HONOR means OBEDIENCE: Obedience is not human nature, but it is so important in the well being of children. Just see the devastating results of disobedience of Adam and Eve, we see the importance of obedience of children to their parents.
3) HONOR also means GLORY: It may be also called good name, joy, or anything that brings that sense of achievement parents have when their children do something right, achieve something good or being in Honor Roll of his class. Just as God receives the honor from our doing right, parents receive that same pride.
DUTIES OF THE GROWN UPS:
This refers to those grown up children who have their own children. These grownups have elderly parents and also have their own small children. We need to emphasize the blessings to have elderly parents even though it is not an easy position to fulfill.
Elderly parents, especially those who have retired from their work, have their special needs: constant care, provision of material and emotional needs, respect and many others. It is the duty of us, as children, to meet those needs. We also need to train our children to care and respect their grand parents. The Bible stresses the blessings of those who honor parents and the elderly grand parents.
CONCLUSION: The joy and harmony of a family will be strengthened when members of the family ask: what can I do to my family and do whatever they can. It is obvious that stronger families will build stronger societies. As we learn to do our duties for this generation and the generations to come, we will build stronger families one at a time.