The fifth commandment God gave to the Israelites states, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). This instruction is repeated for Christians in Ephesians 6:1–3. It is very important to God that children obey their parents. When Jesus was with His family in Jerusalem as an adolescent He went to the temple to listen to the teachers there. His parents could not find Him and were worried. When they found Him they asked Him to come with them and He listened. Even Jesus obeyed His parents because He knew it was the right thing to do (Luke 2:40–52).
Children should follow Jesus' example and obey their parents. Through listening to their parents they will grow in wisdom (Proverbs 13:1; 22:15; 29:15). They will learn how to best handle situations they face in their lives and be protected from the consequences of bad decisions. In addition, they will develop a habit of respect for authority, which will win them the respect of others and help them to be good members of society. Finally, they will learn how to obey God and develop a healthy relationship with Him as their heavenly Father. Children who do not obey their parents, on the other hand, set themselves up for an undisciplined life that does not bring glory to God (Romans 1:28–31; 2 Timothy 3:1–5).
Parents play an important role in their children's obedience. Paul encourages parents saying, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Parents should not tear down their children or let them do whatever they want, but rather teach their children what is right through sound discipline that comes from love and a desire to see them succeed. Although many young adults walk away from their faith, those who had a sound foundation in their faith as children often turn back to God later in life. God sets an example for parents by disciplining us so that we can also learn what is right and become the righteous men and women He desires us to be (Hebrews 12:7–11).
When God created humans He made us to be part of a family unit. Just as He gave specific roles to husbands and wives, He also gave a specific role to children. One of His purposes in creating the family was to provide us with relationships that would help us better understand our relationship with Him. God is often referred to as Father in Scripture, and consequently believers in Christ are referred to as His children (Romans 8:14–17). When Adam and Eve sinned, their disobedience separated them from God. He was holy, but they were unholy because of their sin. This separation passed down to all of humanity (Romans 5:12–17). But, God loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be reconnected with Him and become His children if we will put our faith in Him (John 1:12–13; 3:16–18).
Although Jesus died for our sins, we still have to make a choice to submit ourselves in obedience to God. It is as we submit to God's ultimate authority that He works to transform our hearts and make us more like Him. Our earthly parents are not perfect, but we should continue to honor them throughout our life in obedience to our heavenly Father.
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