“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Colossians 3:20-21
It is God’s perfect will that children obey their parents in all things — the only exception being when obedience to parents would cause disobedience to God (cf. Acts 5:29). Obedience to parents, God says, is “well-pleasing unto the Lord.”
This, of course, is one of the Ten Commandments of the LORD God. The Bible says: “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:2-3).
Such honor and respect for parents and others in authority over us are sorely lacking in our day. Children, in both selfishness and rebelliousness, dishonor parents, teachers and authorities and refuse to obey. Such disobedience and rebelliousness, they need to understand, is not only against their earthly parents and authorities but against God Himself, who placed their parents and other authorities over them for their good.
Disrespect and disobedience toward parents is disrespect and disobedience toward the LORD God. Not honoring teachers and authorities placed over us is not honoring God who created us and placed us under authority.
While it is, sad to say, the way of the world and our own sinful nature not to honor parents and authorities, those regenerated by God’s Spirit will see and acknowledge their own sinfulness in this regard and turn to the LORD God for His mercy and forgiveness won for all by the innocent sufferings and death of God’s own obedient Son, Christ Jesus. And, as a fruit of their faith in Jesus, they will also, with the help and aid of God’s Spirit, seek to honor and obey parents and others placed in authority over them.
Of course, the command to honor and obey parents has another side to it as well. Fathers are not to provoke their children to wrath and discouragement by being overly harsh or mistreating them. This command also applies to mothers, for they are helpmeets to their husbands.
Here, too, fathers and mothers often fail. Instead of remembering that their children are both created and redeemed by the LORD God and that He desires children to be brought to Him in baptism and raised up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4; cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Acts. 2:38-39; Luke 18:15-17), they treat their children in selfishness and anger, punishing them when they get in the way rather than when they do wrong and sin. And, all too often, parents fail to bring their children to Christ Jesus and neglect to teach them to know the LORD and His Word.
Jesus’ warning is amply clear: “Whoso shall offend [cause one to sin or fall from faith in the Lord Jesus] one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).
Provoking children to anger and abusing or neglecting them and their needs, both temporal and spiritual, is also the way of this world and our old sinful nature. But such behavior on the part of parents, teachers and others in authority greatly displeases the LORD God, who gave His only-begotten Son to redeem not only adults but children, both young and old.
Again, parents and those in authority who have been born anew by the mighty working of God’s Spirit through the washing of water and the Word will examine themselves and their own attitudes and actions toward their children, acknowledging their sins and shortcomings and turning to their merciful heavenly Father for forgiveness and the strength to bring up their children as He would have them raised. In the shed blood of Jesus, there is forgiveness. In the working of God’s Spirit, there is help and strength to change one’s attitudes and actions.
Dear Father in heaven, mercifully forgive me for dishonoring and disobeying my parents and others in authority over me. Forgive me also for failing to love the children You have placed under my care with Your love, for failing to be patient and understanding with them, for being overly harsh with them, for failing to bring them to You and teach them Your life-giving Word, and for failing to correct them and bring them up in Your nurture and admonition. Forgive me for the sake of Jesus, Your Son, and His sufferings, death and resurrection in my stead. By Your regenerating Spirit, give me the will and strength to conform my attitude and actions to Your holy will. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]