Eph 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour 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. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Obedience is not something we come by naturally. Being made subject to vanity, we tend to want things our way to the extent that we often ignore all the indications that we are about to get ourselves in trouble. We mistakenly think we are going to avoid the consequences of our actions. My dad told me (on more than one occasion) “Boy, if you can’t listen you’ll just have to feel.”
Just as in Paul’s earlier admonition to husbands and wives in the fifth chapter of Ephesians, we must realize that to obey our parents in the Lord we must be filled with the Spirit. Considering that John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb, it should be obvious that the Spirit can effectually influence us at any age. What is also implied here is that parents also need to be filled with the Spirit; children should obey their parents in the Lord. The family unit should mirror the relationship that the children of promise have with Jesus and His Bride (the church) who is the mother of us all (Gal 4:26). As this relationship indicates, there is a gospel sense in which we see Jesus as our father just as was prophesied in Isaiah 9:6.
We are to prize and revere (honor) our parents in the Lord. This is a commandment of God and carries with it His promise that our days should be long in the land that He has given us (Exo 20:12) It is a great blessing to have parents who love God and set that example before us in the home. We should thank Him every day for godly parents who love Him and love us to the extent that they would sacrifice for us, provide for us, and chasten us when it is needed. In this, they teach us to be godly in our walk and to treat others as they ought to be treated. The result is that we may live a long and full life in the kingdom that God has given to us in both a natural and spiritual sense.
While we sometimes need chastening, and doing so is clearly a parental responsibility, fathers (the Greek word can also read “parent”) should be careful to chasten in love. Goading our children to anger by disparaging remarks or humiliating them in public is not godly correction. Even if public correction is necessary in some circumstances, it should be done soberly and never with the intent of belittling the child.
Correction is an act of love and concern. It is an opportunity to educate and train our children about being good stewards of God’s gifts including the gift of their own life. Godly parents have the tools, through being filled with the Spirit, to bring their children to a mature understanding of what it means to be of good moral character. We have the opportunity to show them our love for our Heavenly Father. This is not a formula for bringing our children into the family of God: that is the work of God alone. It is, however, our opportunity to show them that love will move us to do whatever it takes to secure the future of our children. When the Spirit does work in our children, they can look to their own lives as an example of His love and care for them.
May we honor our parents in the Lord, our parents in this gospel kingdom (Jesus, the everlasting father, and His bride, the church), and God our Heavenly Father that it may be will with us!