Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, 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.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Everywhere we turn today we encounter a breakdown in society that begins in the home. Adults who are responsible for working with children have many examples of this breakdown. Children question the authority of bus drivers, teachers, teaching aides and administrators in the schools. Out in society many adolescents and teenagers are very disrespectful to most adults – even their parents. There is a real need to turn that around soon.
As I look at the insane “political correctness” going on in our culture I am repelled and disgusted. Children, sometimes at the insistence of their parents, are being allowed, in the public schools, to choose their gender! This very dangerous life-changing decision is promoted by less than 4% of the adult population. I’m not sure when the trend began that allows a small percent of the population to bully the rest of us. I am absolutely convinced that people who promote these strange lifestyles are shaped by their family relationships and not by their hormones. There’s a real need in the lives of children for a secure atmosphere to grow up in. That secure atmosphere will require that they…
Obey your parents. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 4:40. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
The Lord God asked the question, “has any God ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation…?” (Deuteronomy 4:34). Then he goes on to explain that since he had done that and he had begun to drive out mighty nations in order to give his people a homeland it would be in their best interests to keep his statutes and commandments.
God’s rules for living — his statutes and commands — were not given by him just because he could. Instead they are very important to the physical and mental health of his people. These commandments were very important for the generation he was speaking to and their children and grandchildren. A common theme of being obedient to God is that it will result in a long life. In the all-important Ten Commandments, commandment number five is…
The first commandment with a promise. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 5:16. “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
We need to remember that these commandments are given as the nation of Israel was crossing the desert on their way to the promised land. The Commandments were given to the generation who came out of Egypt. That generation died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith (Hebrews 4:2).
If those people found themselves living a longer life than others because of their honoring their parents then a large percentage of our current generation will not be rewarded with longevity.
Honor is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence and should first of all be given to God. After that, our respect, courtesy, and reverence should be given to our parents. Honoring one’s parents does not mean approving everything about the parent. Parents, even godly ones, are human and as such are subject to all kinds of human weakness.
To honor a parent who is not considered honorable is not hypocrisy. It is a studied obedience to God. Who knows? It might be that treating a parent the way they would be treated if they were honorable might result in their changing their behavior. I believe most parents want to be respected by their children. And if given the chance will live up to expectations. Of course it is much easier to honor the parent who already deserves it. Yet it is to our own individual benefit as well as the benefit of the family structure if we will give honor where honor is needed. Children are instructed to obey their parents…
In the Lord. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 6:5-7. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
A functional family that honors parents will be one in which the Lord God is loved and obeyed. The people of Israel were instructed to put all they had emotionally and physically into the process of loving God. The evidence of such love will be seen in the way we fathers instruct our children. It is important that each generation be brought into the kingdom through faith. In order to arrive there the Bible does not tell us to take them to Sunday school and let them teach our children for 30 or 40 minutes a week. The Bible tells us to teach the children in the home. We are to apply ourselves diligently to such teaching. In every possible way, in our homes, and as we walk out into society, at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day we should talk about the word of God and the power of the God we serve.
It may well be that we don’t know how to do this kind of instruction. I submit to you that we should simply reach out with what we know about the Lord and expect him to guide us in our instruction. It would be good to begin each day with family devotions. Reading the Bible together and praying before we go out into the world can change the consequences we face. It would be good also to come to the end of the day and let God’s word speak to our family and then pray together. Such leadership by parents will certainly lead to the children honoring the parents throughout their life and beyond. It is very important that…
Fathers — do not provoke. Let’s look at Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 1:5. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Our world today is infected with anger disorder. That’s my diagnosis and I will stick to it! Our relationship to our children should be based on love not anger. Among the things that I regret in life are the times when I allowed my anger to come to the surface in relation my children. That’s just wrong and I am so sorry and I let it happen! Instead, I should have been focusing on teaching Jesus’ instructions. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). When we begin with that principle we should look at who our neighbor really is. Our closest neighbor is our spouse! And then the next level will be our children. After that we would consider the neighborhood including our workplace.
When our children know that they are loved and that the goal of our instruction is love that comes out of a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith they will have little trouble returning that love, honoring their parents and becoming useful citizens in society.
When we correct our children it should not be considered punishment. We don’t just want them to pay for their crime we want them to change their behavior! Rather than provoking our children to anger we have a responsibility…
Fathers — discipline. Let’s turn to Hebrews 12:9-11. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Punishment when the parent is angry leads to bad action such as spanking. Discipline, when properly applied, will lead to positive changes in behavior.
When I was growing up there was a particular pattern of discipline that our home. When I did wrong during the day my mother did not punish me she talked to me. She explained to me why what I was doing was wrong and, if it was a particular serious offense, she said wait till your father gets home. That was one of the longest most anguished period of time in my life. I knew that when my father came home he was going to back my mother up 100%. The truth is that I would rather take painful discipline from my father than have my mother talk to me about it.
I don’t think I was a particularly rebellious child but I did, a few times, require discipline to get me back on track.
Discipline was applied by my parents when I acted in a way that did not bring honor to our family. I can remember my mother saying, “That is not the way we act in our family”. We are reminded by the writer of Hebrews that God’s discipline follows the same pattern. God disciplines us for our good so that we might be holy like he is! When he disciplines us we should recognize in that discipline a pattern that we should follow in disciplining our children. God disciplines us for our good and his glory. Our human fathers should discipline with the goal of helping us to be good family members.
We should not cause our children to rebel in anger and we should not punish them in a way that does not bring about good discipline. There is a desperate need in our world today for…
Fathers — give instruction. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
If we avoid the pitfall of our anger causing our children to be angry and we discipline them in love we will be able to train them in the way they should go. This proverb is often quoted but seldom understood. When we give our children correct training it will never be taken away from them. Sometimes well instructed children walk away from what their family is all about in their teenage years. Time may pass when they are not following our instructions. Godly training will never be forgotten and as our children mature they will come back to the training of their childhood. When we see young men and young women go off to college or to the military and we see them abandon the lifestyle they were raised in. We need to pray that they will return to the God of their fathers.
We must remember that…
Everything Is of the Lord. Let’s turn to Romans 8:28. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We adults need to apply ourselves to the first and greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This promise is for those who love God. If we love God all things work together for good. It follows that if we do not love God there is no reason to expect things to work together for good. So the first step should be to love God with all our being and then teach our children to follow our example.
I recall many years ago after spending a couple of days with a man whose wife attended our church that I asked him, “Are you a Christian?” His reply was I know I don’t love him as much as I should. I have never known an unsaved person to be concerned with how much he loved God. God gave me the ability to lead him to salvation and he was soon baptized. He became very active in the church and even became a deacon. As he developed cancer and came to the end of his life he had his children and grandchildren come to visit him one by one and he told them “I want you to be with me in heaven” then he carefully went over the plan of salvation with each one of them.
That is a powerful illustration of a man responsibly leading his family in spiritual matters.
Children and grandchildren will respond to their treatment by their father and mother. We should never beat our children up with the Bible. Instead we should use Scripture is a tool that leads our families to love God the same way that we do.
The role of children in the family should be guided by the concept that every action in our lives should be done in Christ. It is “in the Lord” that children should obey their parents. It is “in the Lord” wives are to submit to their husbands. All believers are to be strong “in the Lord”! As we walk close to Christ we can be encouraged (Ephesians 6:1), rejoice (Philippians 3:1), agree (Philippians 4:2), live a godly life (2 Timothy 3:12), and have good behavior (1 Peter 3:16). For those who are not in the Lord all of these positive attributes of life are a struggle. For those who are in Christ these character traits — and many more — can be grown into. Have you committed your life to the Lord Jesus Christ? This can be the day!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society