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 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
This is yet another instance where I think we tend to cut the verses short. I might step on a few toes here. Certainly we ALL know the commandment from Exodus about obeying your father and mother. Firstly, I think it is interesting how he points out that it is the first of the commandments listed with a promise. I’ve talked before about putting yourself in a place of blessing . This is one of those instances where God has told us why we should listen to what He says.
Just to step back a moment, I also want to point out something in verse 1: in the Lord. To be clear, this doesn’t mean only obey your parents if they are in the Lord, rather it means obey your parents because it’s what your Lord wants you to do. Just as Paul mentioned before about wives being respectful to their husbands regardless of the husbands’ actions because it will ignite a transformation, so too us children should respect and honor our parents REGARDLESS of their actions. This is how we love people into the kingdom.
Now, parents, for the hard part to swallow that we would like to gloss over. Verse 4 is the flip side of the coin. Discipline and instruction of the Lord. Well, what exactly is that? Love. God’s message to the world, through Christ our Lord, is love. Generally, this is the opposite of provoking to anger, isn’t it? We’ve heard before that power corrupts. Over children, we have power. It’s more given to us than it is earned. Respect, well, that’s a different thing. Respect we must earn regardless of age, bloodline, or anything else. However, we must be careful to not take advantage of our positions over our children as 1) it will teach them those things as they grow and 2) because it is not according to the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Whether you like it or not, you are charged, purposed even, to bring up your kids in the ways of God. Likewise, as children we are to respect our parents, regardless. Just as God has charged us to respect and support our leaders, for they are not there by happenstance, rather because it’s where God put them, for His benefit. We should be mindful to remember that our parents and our children were appointed by God to be our parents and children.
How have you antagonized your children in an ungodly way? How have you disrespected your parents? You might as well be giving the finger to God, distrusting Him, disregarding His authority, and disrespecting His divine assignment of people in your life.
What if it was the other way around?