We saw last week that God gave us the 5th Commandment so that good people are raised for society. Respect for Mom and Dad translates into eventual respect for God and others. Exodus 20:12.
One of the most backwards and damaging sayings in modern culture is, “Respect must be earned!” It doesn’t work because it is fake respect, entirely subjective. A gang-banger at large will never respect a parent, cop, teacher or minister. Prov. 15:12. This phrase actually means, “Treat me the way I want to be treated and THEN MAYBE I’ll respect you.” It’s an individual, sliding scale, based on the “respecter’s” perceived wants, needs, and moods. Such perceptions of “fair” treatment change moment-by-moment.
To meet it, the person seeking respect must cater to the child, or forever be disregarded. Parents correct this selfish worldview by having objective rules as the backstop the child bumps into to curb his selfishness. Prov. 8:35-36. Rules, punishment for breaking them, and praise and rewards for following them shape a young mind to understand and accommodate the rights and feelings of others.
Parents used to teach these things, so students had implicit respect for their elders and teachers. Because parents valued education, they taught their kids to value it too. Everyone understood that work was valuable, satisfying, and sometimes even fun. There was agreement that you were at school to learn to work, obey teachers, follow directions, and to respect others’ right to learn by not disrupting class.
Today though, many parents don’t teach the reasons and respect for authority, nor the value of work. Instead, they teach a kid who has zero life experience that no one has a right to curb their whims; and who cares if your whims disrupt learning for the entire class? Prov. 15:32. These shining tots believe that the world is a better place simply because they are here, and woe to the adult that requires them to actually accomplish anything to prove their worth. Tell a child that no matter what he does (or does not do), makes him nevertheless a gift to the world, and you are raising a sociopath who cares nothing for others. You will raise a criminal.
This is what God meant when he said that the sins of the fathers would be visited on their children to the fourth generation. Ex. 20:5. Not that God punishes kids for their parents’ sins (Ezekiel 18:1-20), but rather, if the parents are thieves and liars, short-tempered types who solve their problems with violence, then why be surprised that their kids act the same when they grow up?
The vertical and horizontal relationship with God and others is crucial to a child’s development. If a child, rich or poor, grows up thinking the world revolves around him, then you will likely get a criminal, or at least someone who can’t keep a job or a marriage, and has no idea how to be happy. On the other hand, if you convince a kid to guide his life by “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5), and, “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19: 18), then you have someone who will make a fine parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, and citizen.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all those who do his commandments.” Psalm 110:10. It all comes down to Character. Twenty-five years ago, “poor people” in Los Angeles used the Rodney King verdict as an excuse to rape, rob, kill, assault, maim, loot, vandalize, and burn a billion dollars in property for five days. In contrast, Abraham Lincoln was raised in poverty that was orders of magnitude worse than any of the criminals who participated in those riots was raised in; but he never burned down his neighborhood. Proverbs 22:6.