Ephesians 6:1-4 Teaching Children to Honor and to Love
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
Paul teaches children proper respect for their parents and attaches a promise. At the same time, parents are given the responsibility to inculcate the fundaments of life: honor and love, into their children.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”
Children’s submission towards their parents is a matter of principle: for this is right. Because parents are superior in position to children, children honor their parents through acts of obedience even after becoming adults. Therefore, obedience is an expression of honor from a subordinate to a superior and from children to parents.
(this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
Paul extracts a portion of the 10 commandments (see Deuteronomy 5:16) to emphasize the promise attached to this command. The command carries a promise that if one faithfully honors his parents, God will cause him to prosper and live a long life. I believe this conditional promise is meant for all regardless of their religious convictions.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
The way children learn to honor authority and ultimately to fear God is through their parents. Children must learn that disobedience leads to discipline and pain, and obedience brings reward and fulfillment. However, parents must never abuse their children and overpower them for their selfish reasons: do not provoke your children to anger. To provoke is to misuse power for personal gain. Irresponsible parents some times uses their children as slaves to serve them and rob them of the love and education they deserve. Instead, parents must serve as godly disciplinarians and teachers according to the truth.
- Parents play an important role in teaching children about the fear of authority and love for another. The inert instinct to respect rules and authority and to care for another must be inculcated at a young age. A child well brought up will develop a propensity to respect the rule of law and obey his superior. Hence, the greater the gap between two positions, the greater the honor given from the lower to the higher. Love stems from a desire to bless another and to care for his environment. Love is expressed when you sacrifice something of value for the benefit of another. This inert ability to love is inherent in every man and woman, and it must be cultivated through the living examples of parents.
- The universal principle: Disobedience leads to pain; obedience leads to gain, must be inculcated at a young age. When a person grows older, the pain of disobedience increases. Parents are given the responsibility to instill this universal principle into their children’s mindset by deliberately creating consequences of pain and gain. It is important to consistently tie the child’s decision to its consequences, as our God is righteous and consistent in all His ways. However, there is a misconception regarding the role of grace in the process of discipline. Grace is never about withholding discipline when it is due or rewarding a child excessively; it is spending time to affirm a child of his special place in your heart, and teaching him truth through discipline.
- Children honor their parents by treasuring and cherishing them. Many older parents that went into retirement tend to perceive themselves as having outlived their usefulness. Hence, children need to be sensitive to their feelings knowing that they will one day enter into that life stage. By giving them personal attention and bearing with their idiosyncrasies and some times unreasonable demands, we give them honor. Our parents bore with the inconveniences of our growing with a sense of duty and vision. Likewise, we as children ought to bear and glorify their golden years with the aim of celebrating their success of bringing us up as responsible adults.
- As parents, do you live an example of whatever you have been teaching them? Children learn not by listening but ultimately by observing what you have been teaching them.
- What do you teach your children while you are with them? Do you draw their attention towards the suffering of those who needed help? Or are you mostly preoccupied with their wants and personal needs?
Dear Lord, give me the mind and the heart of Christ. And in living it out, I fulfill my calling and become a living example for my children to follow. Help me to honor my own parents, to love my husband/wife and to spend time helping the needy in the community. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.