Why Should They Obey?
1 Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
As a believer and a parent, we should help our children understand why they should obey the Fifth Commandment.
As parents we take on a daunting task with our children. We need to love and nurture them, feed and clothe them, provide everything they need, and sometimes what they want, for many years until they grow to the age where they begin to assume some of these duties and responsibilities. And, finally (and hopefully) they reach the age and reach a level of maturity where they are on their own.
During these long and many times exhausting years we have what often seems like an endless list of duties and responsibilities including teaching them how to make good decisions, how to be safe, what to do and not to do. We do everything we can to make sure they receive a good education and thrive both at home and at school. Hopefully we start out very early in their young lives taking them to church, teaching them Bible verses and songs, encouraging them to take part in children’s and youth activities and, ultimately, at some point along the way to lead them to a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Along with all these responsibilities we have to deal with children that very often make very bad decisions, are rebellious, do exactly the opposite of what they are told and while they do all these things they cry and yell and pout and tell us how awful we are when they don’t get their way or if they have to be corrected and punished. Their sinful nature can come shining through at the worst of times and, believe it or not, they will lie to us if they detect they are about to get in trouble.
It would be great if, from birth to adulthood, our children would always obey us. If they would always say yes sir or no ma’am and always do what they are told to do. It would be such a relief to be able to tell them something you want them to do, or not to do, one time and they would always do what we say with a pleasant attitude and totally agreeable personality from that point forward. And wouldn’t it be unbelievable if, on their own they would see when we could use some rest or some help and offer it up to us just because they honor us as parents. I believe the operative word in that last sentence is “unbelievable” because that just doesn’t happen most of the time.
And yet, God speaks directly to children and tells them to obey us and to honor us. He goes even further by saying that to honor our parents we may enjoy long life on the earth. So how do we teach them this commandment with all its requirements and promises for good and why it is for their benefit?
I believe the very best way to give them a reason to obey this commandment is by obeying and honoring our Heavenly Father to set this example for them. After all we as parents are still children of The King. Children love to imitate their parents and if we show them that everything that our Heavenly Father asks or commands us to do is for our good and because He loves us it becomes easier for them to understand that the things we ask of them is for their own good and because we love them.
Also, if we work to teach them in this manner it is much more likely that we will, ourselves, obey God in keeping with His instructions to not exasperate our children simply because we are instructing them in every good thing He intends for them from keeping this commandment.
Shouldn’t we obey God by doing, or not doing, what He tells us in His Word to do or not to do? We should take every opportunity to tell them we are doing this or that, or not doing this or that because we are obeying our Heavenly Father just like He tells them to obey us. When they ask why we have to go to church again we can explain that it is a way of honoring God, again like He tells them to do. Explain to them all that God does for us every day and how He provides and let them know we honor Him because of who He is and all He does for us.
As we work to teach them all the reasons we honor and obey God it should make it much easier to help them understand why they should obey us and why it is important to honor us as their parents because there are rewards from God Himself for doing so.
Also, as we endeavor to teach them it helps us to fulfill this same commandment ourselves. When we work to teach our children what God expects them to do it honors our Heavenly Father as we do what He expects us to do. “Train up a child in the way he should go…….” Sometimes a good example is the very best teacher!