Obedient Children

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honour your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honour your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.””
Ephesians‬ ‭6:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Paul continues his instructions about family life, with this section addressed to children. There are two other possible translations to the first verse, one just simply saying, “Children, obey your parents”, and the other “Children, obey your parents who belong to the Lord”. But I like the way the NLT translates today’s verse because it implies that children have a special place in God’s family; they belong to the Lord regardless of their situation or family background. Hopefully, these junior pilgrims, our children, find it easy to be obedient to their parents, with a relationship of love and respect laying a foundation for them. Sadly, so many families today are dysfunctional, lacking a moral compass, sometimes blighted by drugs and alcohol, domestic strife common. And increasingly, children are growing up in a home where one of their parents is missing. There can be so many factors that conspire to make obedience difficult or impossible for children. My wife and I know – we fostered children for many years. But we found over and over again that if a child can be given a secure, warm and loving family, then they will thrive and move into adulthood better equipped for continuing the way God has marked out for them.

The instruction from Paul goes on to quote Exodus 20:12, “Honour your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you”. It’s there in the Ten Commandments, sandwiched between taking a Sabbath rest and not murdering anyone. And Paul repeated God’s instruction, given to Moses so many years before, that honouring parents is a fundamental ingredient in living life to the full. It is there in the family home that children find honour, respect and love, grace and compassion, qualities that will stand them in good stead in their lives ahead. 

Both my parents have now passed on to a new life with God. I will always be grateful for their love and commitment to me in my formative years. Their example, honouring their own parents, filtered down into my own life. And they continued to stand with me through the difficult years as I transitioned from childhood into adulthood. Even when they were grandparents, their influence continued. 

We thank God for our parents. Families are modelled on God’s family and we honour too our parents in the Lord, our ministers and pastors. And particularly we obey and honour God our Heavenly Father. Where would we be without Him!

Children

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.”
Psalm 127:3

Solomon continues with his thoughts in Psalm 127. He now muses over the blessings of having children, calling them a reward from the Lord. At first glance, we might take this as read, not digging too deeply into what it actually means. I suppose in those days with no welfare state, a house full of sons and daughters would be a blessing. As well as supporting the family, sons were useful for protection and security, particularly in their parent’s older years. But can they fall into the category of being a “gift” and a “reward” from the Lord? And what about in society today, in an overpopulated world?

There can never be a negative answer to that question. My own two children have been a source of many blessings. Those early years were a constant stream of good experiences as we grew up together as a family, ever closer, always learning. And as the years have rolled by, we have laughed together but also on occasion cried together, united as a family in the way God intended. 

But sadly, in recent years, Western nations have increasingly become engaged in the practice of infanticide. Call it abortion if you prefer. To me, the Biblical position is clear – life starts at the moment of conception. But we must never get caught up in a judgemental way; God loves each and every person caught up in their individual tragedies, and it is our duty to dispense His love and grace whenever we can. Bringing light and love into traumatised people’s lives.

We also need to pray for those desperately sad people who want to bring children into this world, but are unable to do so for some physiological reason. Good parents, devastated that they cannot fulfil their potential. And we also need to pray for the parents who lack the skills to bring up children, perhaps because they were badly parented themselves. And we have another societal problem with single parent families, where one of the parents has moved on, leaving a torn family and traumatised partner. We pray. O Lord, how we must pray.

Father God, today we thank You for the gift of children to those of us who are parents. And we pray for those of us who one day will be parents, or want to be parents, that you will reward them also. Help those people, Father, who are struggling in their parenting. We pray for those people who are single or unable to be parents, Father. We ask that You become their parent, enfolding them with Your presence and love, leading them to families as it says in Your Word. We pray this in the Name of Jesus. Amen.