* Not a child, father, or bondservant? Keep reading! There's something here for you anyway!
As part of our Classical Conversations homeschool program, this year we learned the Ten Commandments. The longest part was, "Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long upon the land the Lord thy God giveth thee." Paul notes in Ephesians 6:2 that this is the first command with a promise. What does honoring your parents have to do with a long life?
Let's get the fact out of the way that there are some awful parents out there. Some are abusive, some are neglectful, and some are simply not good role models. I think the assumption in Moses' day was that most parents followed the laws of God and had important knowledge to pass to their children. Hopefully you came from such a home and learned much truth in your formative years. If you did not, find an older person in the church to mentor you!
I try to avoid "Because I said so!" when my six year old daughter asks me why things should be done. I try to tell her the reasoning behind my decisions at least once. With her three year old brother I find myself counting backwards from 5 with the threat of time-out quite often to get him to complete tasks. Neither of them can see the big picture that I can see. If we get certain tasks done, things in the house will run more smoothly and leave more time for fun. If they learn character traits such as calm communication, peacemaking, patience, and love then they are more likely to be successful in life. If they honor us by staying away from harmful things like drugs and promiscuity, they are more likely to live long in the land. All of us should be examples to those younger than us of how to live for God.
I love to humorously quote "fathers do not exasperate your children" to my husband when I feel he is antagonizing the kids. But it really means that fathers who are constantly critical will have children who are embittered or discouraged. As we speak to others we should encourage much more than we critique. Positive reinforcement is much more effective in the long run than fault finding, no matter what the relationship.
Hopefully none of you are bondservants or slaves, but this was a common thing around the world in Paul's day. If even slaves were called to please their earthly masters to show their fear of the Lord, we are certainly called to please those in authority over us. It is said that your true character is shown when no one is looking, but truly only God knows whether your actions spring from love for him and sincerity of heart! Your motives in every action are as important as the action itself. Although there are times when we have to "fake it 'til we make it", our hearts and minds should be conforming into the image of Christ.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. - Titus 2:7-8