Two kids were talking one day. The first said, “I’m really worried. My parents work hard to give me a nice home, food, and clothing. They cook and clean and drive me places. I’m worried sick!” The other responded, “Worried about what? It sounds like you’ve got it made!” “I know,” the first one said, “but what if they try to escape?”
Parenting jokes aside, part of God’s order for the family includes children who are obedient to their parents. This is the third command in this “household code”: first, wives submit to husbands; second, husbands love wives; and now third, children obey parents (v. 1). This is actually the fifth of the Ten Commandments (vv. 2–3), and “the first commandment with a promise.” Originally, it was “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 5:16). Paul broadened it here to “enjoy long life on the earth,” a phrase that implies a general state of blessedness. In other words, keeping proper order and authority in this relationship is essential to our wellbeing. Obedience and disobedience to God’s commands have consequences.
Children’s disobedience is a serious sin, included in a list of what godless people do (see Rom. 1:30). In addition, honoring one’s parents extends past childhood. Paul also taught that caring for aged parents is part of this command (see 1 Tim. 5:4).
Parents have a reciprocal responsibility not to be tyrannical or abusive in their exercise of authority. Fathers, as the head of the home, are told not to “exasperate” their children (v. 4). This term can be translated “provoke” and means to anger or discourage. Instead, he should raise his children in a God-honoring manner (see Prov. 22:6).
Not all of us might have spouses or children—but all of us have had parents! Pray about how you can glorify God by respecting your parents. If they’re believers, give thanks for that spiritual heritage. If your past includes painful experiences with your parents, ask the Lord to heal your brokenness and thank Him for being your perfect Father.