Summary: Presents the roles and behavior of parents (especially fathers) and children.
This is one Bible passage that talks directly to children and so this sermon will directly address them. Hopefully the adults will listen in and learn something as well.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
You know what “obey your parents” means. When they tell you to do your homework, or to put your dishes away after supper, or to make your bed in the morning, you should do what they say. They should not have to tell you twice. They should not have to threaten to punish you. You should just do it.
What does it mean to obey your parents “in the Lord”? Think of it this way. Right now, when your parents ask you to do something, you might think only about them and how you feel about them. So, when your mother says you need to clean your room or your dad wants you to rake the leaves, you think about whether or not you want to obey them. But what the Bible is saying here is to think about obeying the Lord. When you obey your parents, you are really obeying the Lord.
Do you remember the parable that Jesus gives about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25? He says there are people who will be rewarded for taking care of him when he was sick and in prison. They will reply, “When did we ever help you like that?” And he will tell them that as they helped other people in those conditions, so they were helping him. In the same way, when you treat your parents right by being obedient, you are really serving the Lord.
And when you think in this way, about how God, how the Lord is involved, you will find it actually easier to do what is right. One young person had this to say about the same thing: “I used to argue with my family and at the time I felt it was a nice thing to get anger out…. I started to think about what God would be thinking of all the arguing that I had done.” And that is when he began to change.
So, you are to “obey your parents.” You are to obey them “in the Lord.” And you are to obey them “for this is right.” The Apostle Paul is speaking to you, as children and young people, as he would adults. He talks to you as though he believes you will listen and understand him. He thinks you will do something based on what you know to be right or wrong.
Let’s be honest. Most of the time when you disobey your parents, it is not because you think your mom or your dad wants you to do something bad or wrong, but that you just don’t like what they want. You would rather watch TV than do your homework. You would rather play with your friends than do chores. You would rather stay out late than come home early. You would rather go to parties than stay home. Most decisions to obey your parents are not about what is right or wrong, but rather what you like or don’t like.
The real right and wrong issue that the Apostle Paul is talking about is obeying your parents. Maybe you could get all of your homework done after your TV show. Maybe the party is not so bad as your parents think. You might be right or you might not. But the one thing you can know is right is to obey your parents. That is the point the Bible is making.
Let’s move on to the next verse.
2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),
This is one of the Ten Commandments, isn’t it? Let’s look at that word “honor” because it holds the key to knowing how to relate to your parents even when you disagree with them, and even when they may be wrong and you are right!
Honor is something you give to somebody because of their position in life. Here’s what I mean. The Bible says we are to honor those who have positions of authority in government (Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17). That means we are to honor our president, Mr. Bush. In a couple of weeks we will have a new president, Mr. Obama, and we are to honor him. Your parents may like Mr. Bush as a president and not like Mr. Obama, or they may not like Mr. Bush and are glad that Mr. Obama will be president. Regardless, they are still to give either man the honor that is due his office. How do they do that? Well, they are not to make fun of the president, even when they think he is doing something they think is wrong. If they meet him, they should speak respectfully to him, even when they are disagreeing with him. They are to pray for him and his family. And they are to obey the laws that he and the government make.