I have been working on a little devotional for fathers and thought I might share some of it with you from time to time. I know I need it!
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:19
What quality do you want most in your children?
If you gathered a group of couples who were expecting together and asked them to describe the qualities they most wanted to see in their children, I’m sure you would receive a wide variety of answers.
Some wouldn’t have any idea how to answer that question. Others would be primarily concerned about the child’s gender. There are others who might answer they wanted children who were nice, or good at sports, or popular, or happy, or well-adjusted, or even rich.
Obviously, people have all sorts of different goals for their children. While I don’t know what qualities you most want to see in your children, I suspect if you asked the apostle Paul to describe the qualities Jesus wants to see in children his answer would be quite different than most.
In Colossians 3, Paul describes two qualities that should be very important to us as Christian parents. Let’s take a moment and think about the first.
He writes, “Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.”
That’s not a suggestion. It’s a command. And it’s a command not just found here, but all throughout Scripture. It’s such an important command, God gives it a prominent place in the Ten Commandments. One of the ways He makes it stand out is by making promises about it. In fact, this is the only command of the ten where God makes a specific promise to those who obey it, they will be blessed.
Another way God emphasizes the importance of this command is by making warnings about it. If you read the Old Testament you’ll be shocked by what the nation of Israel was to do with flagrantly disobedient children. Disobeying your parents is such a serious sin that in the New Testament, Paul includes it, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, in his description of how wicked people will be in the last days. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents…”
Obviously, obedience is really, really important to God.
Therefore, one of our primary responsibilities as Christian parents is to teach our children “what it means” to obey. Fortunately, that’s not all that difficult. Obeying your parents means first, “doing what your parents want you to do.” But since the command to obey is often linked with the command to honor, we have to go a step further than that. Honor has to do with attitude. So we know obedience is much more than just an external thing. As someone has said, it’s “doing what your parents want you to do with a good attitude.”
Now if Paul stopped there, that would be intense enough. But if you look a little closer, you will see it is even more intense than that.
Because Paul adds, “in everything.” The only time a child has a reason not to obey his parents is if his parents are asking him to sin. Other than that Paul says, “Children obey your parents in every respect.” It’s not just about a child doing what their parents want with a good attitude when what their parents want is what they want. It’s about a child doing what their parents want with a good attitude even when what their parents want is different than what they want. Not just some of the time, but all the time. What God wants is for children to do what their parents want them to do, consistently. Not simply because it is what their parents want, but because they know it is what Jesus wants. That’s the key. Paul explains, “Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.” The idea here is of a child who knows Jesus is Lord and loves Jesus as Lord and because He loves Jesus as Lord He wants to do what Jesus wants, and he knows that what Jesus wants is for Him to obey his parents, so unless his parents are asking him to sin, he chooses to obey them in absolutely everything. Because he knows that Jesus wants “Children to obey their parents, not simply because they want their parents to think they are great, not simply because they don’t want to get a spanking, but ultimately because they want to please Jesus.”
Take Time to Reflect:
- Why is having the right goals for your children so important?
- Why is obedience such an important quality to Christian parents? In other words, what is it that should motivate your desire for your children to obey?
Sit down with your children and talk about obedience. Ask them to define obedience for you. Discuss with them why obedience is important. Talk with them about what makes obedience difficult and why obedience is a blessing. Pray with them about their opportunity to honor God by obeying their parents.