This is the last of a three-part series on the Biblical family. Having covered the roles of father and mother, we now examine what God expects from children.
In Ephesians 6:1-3, we read, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
We see first that children are to obey their parents, simply because it is the righteous thing to do. Righteousness is a Godly characteristic. When children obey their parents, they are imitating Christ, as we see in Luke 2:51 – Then he (Jesus) went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them (his parents). “But, WHY is it right?” someone may ask. It is right for the following reasons:
A) Because it’s an instruction from God. Though you are called to obey your parents, your ultimate motive is to be obedient to God. Note: The phrase “in the Lord” indicates that our relationship to Christ is our first priority, and children should NOT be expected to obey any instruction that goes against God’s word.
B) Because you should be grateful to your parents, for all they have done for you. Even if they are not Christians, yet they are providing for you, protecting you and not harming you, they are to be honored. Remember, by fulfilling God’s instructions, YOU may be the best Christian witness in their lives.
C) Because it will benefit you in daily life. Just from a practical standpoint, when you take to heart your parents’ experience, know-how and general knowledge about getting along in life, you can only save yourself the trouble and difficulties of learning important lessons the hard way.
Second, we see that children are not simply to obey their parents, but to honor them as well. In the Greek, to “honor” carries multiple meanings; it means you are to not only obey them, but respect them, speak kindly to them, as well as about them, and even THINK kindly about them. Obviously, ragging on your parents to your friends is going to be displeasing to God.
It is important to notice that the command to honor your parents (first seen in Exodus 20:12) is the ONLY commandment with a particular blessing attached to it: “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Scholars tend to think that this verse points to special blessings from God for those who honor their parents.
Children who are grown also ought to make note of Proverbs 23:22 – Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. This carries the obvious implications of reverence and respect for parents THROUGHOUT our lives.
Finally, understand that respect for and obedience to parents’ authority must be complete, and not inconsistent. Colossians 3:20 tells us, Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. It’s not enough to be obedient only in some things. Though your parents may not know about some of the areas in which you are disobedient, God does. Those seeking his full favor will not receive it by trying to hide the truth. But total obedience pleases him, and results in his blessing in our lives.
So, what do you suppose is better? Getting away with a few things here and there, which most likely won’t work out in your favor? Or, receiving the full favor of God? I hope you choose wisely.
Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.
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