“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!