1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3“that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. —Ephesians 6:1-4
Most of us wish lots of things for our kids. And often, particularly with Christian parents, knowing our children have a healthy relationship with God is somewhere on the list. Here’s a hard truth for parents to swallow. You cannot guarantee that your children will become followers of Jesus Christ. And there is nothing you can do to guarantee that they will. But there are some things that you could do to guarantee that they won’t (see verse 4 above). God makes it clear, however, that He wants us to bring our children up a certain way.
As an application of Ephesians 6:1, we taught our kids the three rules of obedience. Here they are:
- Do what you are told.
- Do it immediately.
- Do it with a good attitude.
Why did Paul make obedience so essential in Ephesians 6:1? Why not self-esteem? Why not something about birth order? Why not something about spending quality time with your children? All of those things are good. But why obedience? Because I believe that teaching your children obedience is the foundation for everything. Here are three reasons why from Ephesians 6:1-3:
- Because obedience is right (v. 6:1b). Children are to obey parents, first because they’re parents and second because the child wants to please the Lord.
- Because if they don’t honor their parents, they will never honor God (v. 6:2). The key to even understanding what it means to honor God is learned and practiced in our relationship with our parents.
- Because if they don’t honor God, life will be miserable and/or short (v. 6:3). God’s Word promises a different quality of life based on learning to honor God and those He has placed over us as parents.
These verses are not—trust me on this—primarily an injunctive to children. It envisions parents with the Bible open and bringing their children in front of what God is asking of them, to get that backing from heaven on what it is they’re supposed to be teaching. Parents are responsible to teach their kids obedience. Kids may not, no, they will not always obey, but they need to understand as deeply as possible what obedience is. That way, when it comes to obeying God, kids will know what that’s all about!
- How did I learn my most important lessons about obedience? In what ways (if you’re a parent) am I giving my children the same opportunities to learn?
Prayer - Heavenly Father, so much of my daily relationship with You comes down to obedience. Am I willing to obey and trust You? Faith is so often demonstrated in obedience. Thank You for having Your Son demonstrate in His life the importance of obedience even when it wasn’t easy, so that I would have a perfect example to follow. Help me to wisely train my children in the practice of obedience and give them the best position from which to be drawn to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.