Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.…
Christianity purifies and elevates family life. It is supremely natural, orderly, and reasonable in the treatment of domestic affairs. We meet with frequent allusions to families and households in the New Testament. The order and health of the home are clearly recognized as of primary importance. This is seen in the treatment of parental relations.
I. THE DUTIES OF CHILDREN TO THEIR PARENTS.
1. The duties.
(1) Obedience. A condition of subjection is necessary and right for childhood. Children must be taught to reverence an authority above them and to yield their will to a higher will. Thus the first principle of what, in after life, must be the fundamental relation to God, is instilled. Children should obey, for the very sake of obedience, orders for which at present they see no reason, and from which they can foresee no good results. But there is a limit to obedience. "Obey your parents in the Lord." When parents command what is plainly contrary to the will of Christ, disobedience becomes a duty.
(2) Honor. It is not enough to obey in act. Love and reverence should be found in the heart of children. It is most injurious for children to lose reverence for their parents. They are themselves degraded when this is the case.
2. The grounds on which these duties to parents are enforced.
(1) It is right. This comes first. It is an appeal to conscience. No obedience or honor can be of worth when only low, selfish motives prompt the performance of filial duty.
(2) It is profitable. In the long run the principle that underlies the ancient promise of the fifth commandment is abundantly exemplified. Family life is the root of social order. When this is corrupt that will be upset. Good domestic habits are the safeguards of the best kind of conservatism. The most frightful revolutions are those that begin at the family hearth.
II. THE DUTIES OF PARENTS TO CHILDREN. The family relation is reciprocal, and so are the duties of parents and children. It is most unreasonable to expect the children to discharge their share of domestic duty if parents, who have so much larger knowledge and experience and whose example is the most powerful instructor of their children, fail in theirs. To stern Roman fathers the Christian view of parental duty was novel Even now it is too little regarded.
1. The negative duty. "Provoke not your children to wrath." While strictly enforcing necessary commands, parents should be most careful not to lay on the shoulders of their children unnecessary burdens. Obedience is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Especially is it desirable not to provoke childish irritation by hasty, harsh manners when a wiser, kinder method might be more efficacious in securing obedience and respect.
2. The positive duty. "Nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." The parent is the spiritual guardian of his children. He cannot delegate to another the responsibility that God will some day call him to account for. In caring for their children's health, happiness, and worldly prospects, etc., parents are often least anxious about the most essential point, the spiritual welfare of their family. Let it be remembered that the first requisite in training children for Christ is that the parents should be themselves his disciples. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.