In Eph 6:1-4 we will study God’s command to children that they obey their parents.
Children, you are to obey your parents three ways.
Obey your parents in the Lord – Eph 6:1 – this command to children is in the context of commands to husbands and wives, Eph 5:22-33, and commands to servants and masters, Eph 6:5-9. In the instructions to both of those groups, Paul used phrases like “as unto the Lord,” “as Christ also loved,” “as unto Christ,” etc. So, when he says to children to obey your parents “in the Lord,” he’s admonishing you to obey them as they are your representatives “in the Lord.” I have found that children who obey their parents are more likely to grow up obeying the Lord, than children who disobey their parents.
Obey your parents in honor – Eph 6:2 – the fifth commandment is “honour thy father and thy mother,” Ex 20:12. To honor is to respect and to treat with submission. The lack of respect for parents is a big problem in our society today. And it manifests itself in a lack of respect for all authority. When you keep this commandment, you not only obey, you obey with respect and submission. This is the first commandment that promises a benefit to the person who keeps it (see below).
Obey your parents in all things – Col 3:20 – this verse in Colossians clearly shows you that you are to always and in all things obey your parents. It seems that children are always trying to find ways to disobey and get away with their disobedience. Just get over that temptation and resign yourself to obey.
Children, you are to obey your parents for four reasons.
Because this is right – Eph 6:1 – sometimes people will ask, “What’s the right thing to do?” When it comes to obeying your parents, obeying is always right. So, get in the habit of doing the right thing.
Because it may be well with you – Eph 6:3 – First, when you honor your mother and father it will be well with you. By contrast, in the Old Testament, when a child “setteth light by his father or his mother,” (dishonored them) he was cursed, Deut 27:16. Do you want to be blessed or do you want to be cursed?
Because you may live long on the earth – Eph 6:3 – Second, when you honor your mother and father “thou mayest live long on the earth.” The Rechabites were blessed for their obedience, Jer 35:1-10, 18-19. These are two excellent reasons to honor parents. If only children would believe God’s word.
Because this is well pleasing unto the Lord – Col 3:20 – children should always strive to please God. You are assured of being well pleasing to the Lord when you obey your parents. And you can expect God’s blessing when he is pleased.
Fathers, to encourage your children to be obedient:
Bring them up in the nurture of the Lord – Eph 6:4 – the nurture of the Lord is non-verbal communication. Nurture includes everything from hugs to physical discipline. You can’t admonish very young children because they don’t comprehend the reproof of instruction. But they certainly understand a loving hug or a corporal punishment. See Prov 19:18; Prov 22:15; Prov 23:13-14. Nurture is the way to bring them up.
Bring them up in the admonition of the Lord – Eph 6:4 – admonition is verbal communication. As children mature, you can reason with them and admonish them with words. The admonition of the Lord is instruction that is Biblical in its principle and application.
Neglecting to bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord can provoke children to wrath and discourage them (Col 3:21) – Eph 6:4. Don’t spoil them and don’t harm them in your nurture and admonition. Consistency and balance are the key. Encourage them but don’t enable them.
Conclusion: as parents, we often blame ourselves if our children don’t turn out right. However, in this passage of Scripture you see that the Lord puts a burden on children to obey. He holds them responsible if they don’t and he blesses them if they do. If you are a child, learn from this lesson and do your part: “obey your parents in the Lord.”