Clay Center, Kansas – Eli was a priest that served the Lord God. He had two sons that served with him, who were perverse in all their ways. Eli knew of his sons’ misconduct, but only confronted them after the complaining of all the people became great. Eli angrily said to them “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people.” (1 Samuel 2:23) The sons refused to listen, but persisted in their corruptible behavior. Eventually, God’s patience ran out when He declared about Eli, “. . . I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.” (1 Sam. 3:13)
God has a direct word for all sons and daughters, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord. For this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1) This was something Eli’s sons needed to hear. God has a word for parents too, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) Children need to be taught obedience and done so in a spirit of love. This was something Eli obviously did not do, but needed to hear.
It seems like common sense that children should be taught to obey, but why? 1. It produces order in the home. Obedient children create a peaceful, unified and productive household. 2. It sows seeds of love and respect. When children obey their parents, it demonstrates love and respect (or honor) for their father and mother, establishing the framework for a healthy relationship with them. 3. It teaches children to rule themselves. When children are told to do something by their parents, there is often natural resistance. A child has to overcome this resistance in order to obey. When children learn this, they learn to control their inner self in order to do what needs to be done. This teaches the child self-control. 4. It lays the foundation for an orderly society. If there is order in the home through children obeying their parents, that will affect other relationships. If children show love and respect to their parents, this will likely affect their relationships with other siblings, their grandparents, school teachers, coaches, bosses and co-workers. If children were never taught to obey, then all those relationships will be touched by varying degrees of chaos, division, lack of trust and conflict. These are a few of many reasons to teach a child to obey. The last is the most important though. 5. It prepares children to know God. The relationship between parents and children is a picture of a relationship between God and mankind. When parents do the hard work of lovingly teaching a child to obey, they are showing their son or daughter what a covenant relationship with God is like.
He requires faithful obedience to His commands. The very first one is to repent, turning from one’s sinful ways, and trusting in Jesus. After that first command, there are others. If children are taught obedience in the home, it prepares them to humble themselves and follow Christ.
Reading this as a son or daughter, and humbling ourselves before our parents can be difficult, especially if there is a history of conflict. Reading this as a parent is challenging too. Everyone knows that teaching obedience to a defiant child is not for the weak-minded.
I end with this statement from God, who declared a powerful truth about faithfully and lovingly instructing children to obey, “For this is right.” (Eph. 6:1). Although teaching obedience is hard at times, it is the right thing to do. For the good of your child, your family, your community, accept God’s call to raise obedient children – it is the right thing to do.
A prayer for you – “Lord God, I pray you will give parents the moral determination to face the daily challenge of teaching their children to obey that it would go well with their kids when they grow up. And I pray you will help all of us, as sons and daughters, to obey your command to repent and place our trust in Christ. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Please share your comment with Clint at email@example.com and follow his blog at clintdecker.blogspot.com.
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