By Connie W. Adams
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3). Those addressed here are children. The condition of obedience is “in the Lord.” That is obedience within the realm of all that would please the Lord. The simple reason given is “for this is right.” There is such a thing as right and wrong. To be disobedient to parents in the Lord is wrong. The promise given is “that it may be well with thee” and “thou mayest live long upon the earth.” This does not mean that none who is obedient to parents will ever die young. But the general rule is that those who grow up respecting and obeying parents in the Lord will be shielded from many dangers and that life will proceed in a more orderly and fulfilling manner than it will for those who are disrespectful and disobedient.
“Honor” means more than politeness, though that is included. It involves a manner of life that reflects favorably upon your parents. That principle holds true through life and even after your parents are dead. Jesus taught that honor for parents included requiting them that is supplying their needs when they could not do so themselves (Matt. 15:4-6). The scribes and Pharisees argued that if they made a gift at the temple they were excused from providing for their parents. Jesus said “they honor not” the father and mother.
Obedience shows honor. While children are at home and directly under the supervision and control of parents, this obedience must be taught and enforced. When you leave home for college, marriage, work, or military service, and even when parents are old, or dead, your manner of life still reflects either honor or dishonor on the parents who brought you into the world and provided for you. “A good name is better than precious ointment” (Eccl. 7:1).
On the other hand, rebellion and disobedience will have far reaching effects. You will be affected. The more stubborn and rebellious you become, the harder you will make it for yourself. Others in society will be affected. You will be a pain in the neck for teachers, neighbors, schoolmates. If your rebellion takes you into unlawful action, many others will have to pay. Shop-lifting, for example, adds much cost to business for extra surveillance. Prices are raised to offset the cost. That affects you, your parents, and all other consumers. In the church disobedient children can destroy the work of elders, preachers, and other Christians. An elder is “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (1 Tim. 3:4). Deacons are also to be found “ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Tim. 3:12). The ungodly behavior of children has often undermined the effectiveness of gospel preachers. Rebellious young people sometimes become the means of tension and even division in churches. Such fruit does not come from those who obey their parents in the Lord.
Obedience brings contentment. When children are brought up to understand the limits of what is allowed, the boundaries of acceptable conduct, they are much happier than those who push as hard as they can to find out just how much they can do and still get may with it. A failure to set limits results in confusion. Many parents do not understand this. No child or teenager is truly happy being the center of a storm. That may get attention, but it does not reflect contentment. Obedient children contribute much to the orderly management of a home.
Obedience to parents shows trust. Parents must never betray that trust. Worthy examples fortify wise sounding speeches. Godly parents usually know what is best. The Lord did not put children in charge of families. Sometimes children resent having chores to do. That is one of the best remedies for the popular lament, “I’m bored.” Responsibility is good for children and children must learn to trust the judgment of parents about that. Young people often show immaturity in choices for dating, for pursuing education, for taking jobs that will hinder worship. Spiritually minded parents can see some things about these matters that young people cannot. Young people, when you don’t always see why, learn to trust the judgment of your parents. Parents need to be there to listen and take the time to offer sound, constructive help. An impatient “no” or “I don’t have time for this” will not be adequate to instill trust. The classic example of trust in the Old Testament was the case of Isaac who was not just a small boy when this incident occurred about the sacrifice. While Abraham fully trusted God, Isaac fully trusted Abraham.
Obedience to parents is the basis for learning obedience to God. Jesus was “subject” to his parents (Luke 2:51) though he pursued his “Father’s business.” He said, “for I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He said also, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (John 12:49-50).
The time comes in the life of every rational child when his conscience toward obedience to parents is expanded to an awareness of responsibility toward what God re-quires in obedience. A child who has not learned obedience for parents will be ill equipped to come to terms with obedience to the gospel. Children learn in the domestic circle the blessedness of obedience and the peaceful results. The time will come when that concept will grow to an understanding that God must be obeyed in order for all life to make sense and for it to proceed in an orderly and rewarding fashion.
An Appeal To Young People
If you have parents who work hard to provide what you need, who care who you are, what you become, where you are when away from home, what you are doing and with whom you are doing it, and when you will be home, then would you hug them, say “thanks” and “I love you” and then go into your bedroom, close the door and get down on your knees beside your bed and thank God for your parents.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 7 p. 3-4
April 3, 1997