“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”
– Colossians 3:20
As we continue in our series on the duties and responsibilities children have to their parents, obedience is an essential piece. Children must follow and not forget this, likewise parents must expect and require biblical obedience from them. Though aspects remain true through much of life for parents, one of the main focuses and duties parents have as they love their children, especially in their earlier ages and stages, is consistent shepherding of their hearts, consistent teaching and training in obedience. As we considered Solomon’s words in Proverbs 6 last week, we need to foster and maintain loving relationships with our children where they value and respect what we say. We need to teach them to guard and not abandon our commands and instruction. We need to teach them the benefits and value of keeping such a guide and guard of truth close to their hearts and minds.
“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” – Psalm 34:11
The Apostle Paul commanded children, who were members of the church in Ephesus, to “obey their parents in the Lord”. Why? Because “for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1) Children need to obey their parents because it’s right. There is natural and God-given equity in it. Such obedience is becoming of a Christian. This obedience is right because the Lord commands it. Children obeying their parents are obeying God and His commands. Parents, see this and never forget that your shepherding doesn’t have it’s end in you. Rather, your shepherding must point your children to and teach them not only about obedience to you as their earthly parents, but also, and importantly, obedience to their heavenly Father. Required obedience from their earliest years is to teach them about their relationship and daily, lifelong obedience to Christ and His Word. By God’s grace and work, your children will grow in embracing this truth and walking accordingly.
Paul gave similar command to the children in the church in Colossae in today’s verse. However, in this verse, Paul also teaches us that obedience should be universal as children are to obey their parents “in all things.” Considering this, there is one exception. Parents can’t command their children to break God’s law and expect obedience. Otherwise, children must obey all of their parents’ biblical commands. Further, it important and helpful that children learn that their obedience must be prompt. One of the things I’ve taught my children is that I expect “immediate obedience.”When a command is given, it should be complied with promptly. Fruit from this instruction is seen in matters of safety, for example. When I saw one of my young boys running towards the street and yelled, “STOP!”, he stopped in his tracks. But this principle should be required in all times and situations. Whether you and your family are at home, with extended family, with friends, at the store, around town, or at church – immediate obedience should be expected. As there isn’t a time when God excuses our disobedience and sin, there shouldn’t be times when we excuse it in our children.
Whereas children must obey their parents because it’s right, they also must do so, as Paul says, because doing so is “well pleasing to the Lord”. Children’s obedience to parents is acceptable to God, and it’s the first commandment with promise. (Ephesians 6:2) It’s true that children who carry out their duties and responsibilities in this way, by God’s grace and blessing, will prosper in the world and enjoy long life. Again, as parents are to be tender and loving towards their children, children are to love, obey, and be blessed in doing so.
Beloved, as training your children to be faithful in carrying out their duty of obedience has its ups and downs, its joys and frustrations, let me encourage you to never lose heart. As God is faithful and patient in training and growing us, may we be so with our children. Consistency in loving discipleship (instruction, encouragement, and correction) over time is key. Fervency in lifting your children in prayer to the Lord daily is key. As we pray for His grace in us, continue to pray for His grace in them. Respond appropriately and promptly to challenges and sin when they arise. Don’t let them slide. But also work on targeted shepherding of their hearts in between incidents. Work on training right and good behavior in general and in Worship during the week. Your family worship times are great times to teach and practice the details of listening, paying attention, sitting still, etc. with kids of all ages. If you feel lost or overwhelmed and need help, ask for it. Know that among other experienced brethren in your life and the church, your pastor, elders, and deacons are here to serve you.