This year, as I prepare for Mother’s Day, my parent:child relationships look different. My youngest is taller than I am. My oldest drives herself to school. My mom just brought her mother home from a nursing home. I bought my mom a cute lanyard to hang her bifocals on. We will always be related as parents and children, yet our relationships go through God ordained seasons.
In our relationships, there’s no doubt: Knowing God and submitting to others gives us peace. Ignoring God and resisting others robs us of peace. Ephesians 6:1-4 challenges us with more ways to take our love for Christ and express it through yielding to others. The applications hit close to home, so close that those outside our front door might not know. After addressing husbands and wives last week, today children receive two specific directions.
Obey ~ The word conveys the idea of hearing a knock at the door and coming. This submissive action results from an attitude wanting to respond “in the Lord.” Children come “when they hear their parents’ knock,” because it’s a right response to the Almighty, not based on the conduct of the parent. God declares this “right,” meaning a righteous act acceptable to Him. The old Sunday School song is simple, but true: “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. Doing exactly what the Lord commands, doing it happily…”
Honor ~ In contrast to the submissive obedience of verse 1, children are told to “honor,” giving reverence reflecting value placed on another person. God assigns parents value in their position, and they are deserving of honor. God announces a blessing of long life for those who yield to this charge for all children. As we age, our relationship changes from obedience to honor. This attitude doesn’t hinge on the conduct of a human parent, but on the command of our holy God.
It’s not always easy to offer obedience while in childhood or honor while in adulthood. God isn’t opening the door for oppression or lack of understanding. Instead, He applies the attitude of submission to each family member. Remember that, in the context of this passage, the charge to children follows the foundation set for a husband and wife. As the core of the home, an obedient man and wife create a loving climate.
Since obedience is learned and sometimes hard won, God speaks to fathers about their role in bringing up children. Even when shaping a rebellious child, fathers are commanded not to provoke their children, frustrating or exasperating them. This may be obvious and aggressive, or it may be the result of nurturing withheld. Either way it’s born out of sin, rather than a reflection of a man’s yielded heart to His own Heavenly Father. God warns against stirring up young hearts to anger and wrath.
Instead, He wants fathers to train, instruct, and lovingly discipline their children, so their minds and morals are nurtured. When Fathers embrace their role as the loving leader in their child’s life, and when children obey and honor their parents in each season of life, God blesses families with peace.
- Children: obey & honor
- Fathers: don’t provoke, but bring up
Knowing God and submitting to others gives us peace. Ignoring God and resisting others robs us of peace. God is knocking and asking us all to obey His call to submit to others out of love and reverence for Him. Let’s answer His call.
In your season, how are you honoring your own parents?
If you have children, how are you helping them know God’s charge to them?