1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Reflection On This Scripture
In Ephesians 5:21, Paul tells us to submit to one another. He then shows three examples as to how submitting to one another is displayed in different roles. One of those examples is in the roles of parents and children, which are essential in the family and Paul does not exclude them. The role of children is to obey their parents. The role of parents is to raise their children in the fear of the Lord, to nurture and care for them, and to love and protect them. Earlier, in Ephesians 5:18, Paul tells us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is not coincidence that we are told what the roles of husbands and wives, and children and parents are after being told to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is because a Spirit filled life will help us live in submission to God, and will help position ourselves in the roles He designed us to be. Rather than think of children as only young children, the word “children” here refers to the relationship rather than age, so it can include adult children. Young children are to obey their parents in everything, except in rare cases where a parent encourages their children to sin. Older children are free to make their own decisions but should honor their parents’ advice, and should care and honor them as needed.
This obedience is to be done “in the Lord.” This is synonymous in the same manner that wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord.” In other words, children who obey and honor their parents do so because they submit to the Lord first and foremost. The motivation behind this is Paul saying “this is right.” It is right because it is how the Lord designed the roles of children and parents. To obey and honor your parents is right and fitting, and exalts Christ.
God is serious about the relationship between children and parents. To see how serious He is about this, we can turn to Exodus 21:15 where it states that a child who strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death. And later in verse 17 it states that any child who curses his father or mother shall also be put to death. This seems excessive to us and it should be. This demonstrates how holy our God is. Sin against parents is a sin against a holy God. Disobedience to parents is a grave sin to God. Romans 1:30 describes people who have given themselves over to a debased mind which includes disobedience to parents. 2 Timothy 3:2 says people will be “lovers of self…money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful…and unholy.”
We must acknowledge that parents are not perfect. In fact, they are far from it. But God in His infinite wisdom decided that parents would be the main source of protection and provision for their children on earth. For some children, obeying and honoring their parents can be a challenging commandment, as their parents may not have been godly. Or perhaps one parent died, or was a bad father or mother figure. However, it is still fitting to God for children to obey ungodly and sinful parents but not to the point of sinning themselves. Because some children have had bad earthly parents, it is difficult for them to obey, honor and trust God. The fuzzy picture that their earthly parent portrayed smeared our image of who God truly is. It can be hard for a person to love God as a Father and acknowledge him as a Father when they did not have a godly, loving father at home who took time to protect and watch over them. However, we must remember that we cannot compare an earthly father with our heavenly Father. Earthly fathers are sinful but our heavenly Father is perfect. Our earthly parents may have sabotaged their marriage and the family, but our heavenly Father is faithful to his bride and will never abandon her. Our earthly parents may have left us, but our heavenly Father will always be by our side.
God gave us his son Jesus as the ultimate example of total submission to a father. Jesus said in John 5:19 that he could not do anything of his own accord, but only what he saw the Father doing. Earlier in John 4:24, Jesus states that his food (daily spiritual nourishment) is to do the will of the Father who sent Jesus to accomplish his work. How are you doing in obeying/honoring your parents? This is an area that everyone can improve upon and we are not left on our own to do it. We have the power the Holy Spirit in us that will transform. We can look to Jesus’ example in his obedience to not just God the Father but his earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, and pray to Him to help us obey and honor our earthly parents. Just as Jesus honored his Father from his heart, so should we, obey and honor our parents from our hearts.
Pray Through This Scripture
Apply This Scripture