Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.…
I. NOTICE WHOM YOU ARE TO OBEY AND HONOUR. Your "parents" - your "father and mother."
II. WHAT IT IS TO HONOUR AND OBEY THEM.
1. We must respect and reverence them. We should regard them as those to whose love and government God Himself has committed us. I have read of two sons who saved their aged parents at the sacrifice of all they possessed and at the risk of their own lives. The city was on fire, and they were in the middle of it; they had gold in the cellar and plate in the cupboard; but one took his father on his back, and the other his mother, and away they ran through the scorching streets and falling houses, till they got outside the walls! Those lads loved their parents with perfect love. How different to the wretched heathen who leave their old fathers and mothers to perish! Mr. Moffat, an African missionary, found a poor woman under a tree; she was a mere skeleton, and the bloodthirsty wolves were bowling around her! She said her children had got tired of her because she was sick; they had been gone some days, and she must sit there till she died.
2. To honour and obey our parents means that we are to do whatever will make them happy, even though they do not enjoin it upon us.
3. To honour and obey them means that we are to do whatever they tell us. Their commands are to be laws with us. A soldier is ordered to do this and that by his officer - it may be to carry a letter through the enemy's country, it may be to take the place of a comrade who has just been shot down at a gun, but he knows that he may not hesitate for a moment; if he refused, his character as a soldier would be gone, and he would be drummed out of the army. But what claim has an officer on a soldier, compared with the claim of a parent on a child?
III. HOW FAR WE ARE TO HONOUR AND OBEY OUR PARENTS (see Colossians 3:20). We are to obey our parents in everything so far as their commands agree with those of God, and no further; if they required us to steal, or lie, or cheat, or do anything wrong, we should not be called to obey them. But, dear children, it is not probable that your beloved parents will ever require you to do anything of this kind; and in all other cases you are bound to obey them. I press that "ALL," because many boys and girls will pick and choose amongst duties as they would amongst apples; they will do what is easy and pleasant to them. Now, it seems to me that difficult things are just the test of obedience. Some things are no test at all. Suppose a father were to say to his son, "Run and buy yourself a dozen raspberry tarts"; not one boy in a hundred but would run to the shop as fast as his legs could carry him; but for all that, he might be a disobedient boy at heart. Now, let us try him again; "Leave off your play, and take this note to the doctor's for me." Look at him now! He pretends not to hear, or he puts it on his younger brother, or he flies into a passion, or he says right out, "Father, I can't." But if, instead of this, he at once cried, "Father, I'll be ready in a minute," and pulled on his jacket, and went skipping down the street with a smiling face, I should mark him in my pocket book for a thoroughly obedient lad.
IV. WHY YOU ARE TO HONOUR AND OBEY THEM.
1. Because God has told us to do it. And God is so wise and good that whatever he bids us do should be done unhesitatingly; His command and our obedience to it should follow one another as quickly as the clap of thunder follows the flash of lightning.
2. Because we owe, under God, our existence to them.
3. Because they are our superiors. If, directly we were born, we were as strong and as wise as they are; then it would be different - we would manage for ourselves: but just look how it is. We come into the world the most helpless of creatures - far more helpless than a lamb, for it can stand by itself - far more helpless than a chicken, for it can pick up its own food. There we are, unable to do one single thing for ourselves; we know nothing at all; we have not a particle of experience! When a boy gets into a boat for the first time, all is strange to him. What should we think of him if he declared that he was going to start for New Zealand, just as he was? We should cry out, "You are mad!" But if he embarked in a large ship under a tried and skilful captain, then there would be no danger. Now, our parents are tried and skilful captains; they have sailed on the rough ocean of life in many directions; they understand all about its winds, and tides, and currents; they have sounded here, and anchored there; they have marked rocks in one place and shoals in other, and whirlpools in another. They have travelled the dangerous road of life for years; they have learnt the right turnings and the best inns; they know the spots where robbers lurk and wild beasts prowl; they know which fruits may be eaten, and which are poisonous; they know who are safe companions, and who will lead astray: In other words, having read so much, and heard so much, and seen so much, and suffered so much, they are able to guide us; they can tell us how to avoid what is harmful, and how to secure what is valuable; they can train us up "in the way in which we should go."
4. Because they are our nearest and dearest friends.
5. Because it will be good for us. It is the "first commandment with promise"; and the promise is, "Thy days shall be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." No doubt this referred more particularly to Jewish children, because, as we have seen, those of them who were disobedient were stoned to death, and thus their days were short in the land; whilst those of them who were obedient lived on. But many Christians think that this promise is still fulfilled to dutiful sons and daughters. And, as a fact, they do live longer. For disobedient children soon fall into wicked ways and among wicked associates, and rain their health, and come to an untimely end. "The ungodly shall not live out half their days." So it was with the sons of Eli; so it was with Absalom; so it has been with many youths whom I have known. On the other hand, how different it is with the obedient child; he has his parents' praise, which is an ever-flowing fountain of joy! He has their most fervent prayers! "The smell of their son is to them as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed." Often as they embrace him, their bowels yearn over him, as they say, "God be gracious unto thee, my son!" or, "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine." A blameless childhood blossoms into a graceful manhood!
(J. Bolton, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.