Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (ESV)
“I asked my brother-in-law, the father of four boys, “If you had to do it all over again, would you still have kids?”
“Yes,” he said. “Just not these four.”
- Sheila Lee, Lorain, Ohio (www.rd.com)
In this study of Ephesians, Paul now turns to the relationship of parents and children. At the end of Chapter 5 Paul addressed the relationship of Husband and Wife. I will say that while we are going to talk today about the relationship of parents and children, it is no accident that Paul establishes what godly marriage looks like before speaking of godly parenting. If you want to be a godly parent you need to be a godly spouse.
Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love. Any parents know that there are times of great struggle and also times of great reward. And how we act has a great influence on how much reward or how much struggle we will have.
Paul begins his instruction to children by commanding them to obey their parents. In this particular instruction he gives a reason: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
I want to break this command down for you just a little bit. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord. That means that a child’s first opportunity to learn obedience to the Lord starts by obeying an earthly father. By obeying your earthly father you are obeying God. Now, does that mean that when you were 8 years old, picking up your legos off the floor, you were doing that for God? Yes! The act of obedience is one that is established by God, and he expects that children obey their parents.
Obey your father or mother as you would the Lord. Now, I did not say that your parents ARE the Lord. One of the most humbling things for a parent is leading our children, while knowing just how sinful and ungodly we are. Children, none of your parents are perfect, but your obedience to them is required by the Lord, and it is honoring to Him.
I can remember being frustrated with some of the demands that my father placed on me as a child. And it was easy for me to feel like I shouldn’t have to do them because my father wasn’t perfect. The fact is, God does not give children a free pass to disobey because the parents aren’t perfect. Believe it or not, children, eventually your parents are going to seem a whole lot smarter than they are now. Mark Twain, who wrote many stories about children, like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, said this:
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant, I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
- Mark Twain
The command to obey our parents is from God. And there is a reason we obey. “It is right.” What does that mean? It means that the proper order of things in life includes children obeying their parents. It is part of having a healthy family. What God has ordained as “right” in relationships is the divine ideal. When we step outside of that ideal and rebel against it there are always consequences. It is not possible to disobey your earthly parents and not also feel the divine consequence of disobeying God. In Romans 1:28-32, Paul gives a list of evil actions that have incurred the wrath of God upon all mankind, the Apostle Paul specifically mentions disobedience to parents.
Children, you are commanded to obey your parents. I know it is hard. Do it as to the Lord. No, your parents are not perfect. But your Heavenly Father is. Obey him. There is reward in obedience.