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And it came to pass that she brought forth her firstborn, and they wrapped the baby in a blanket and lovingly placed him in a crib. After this blessed event, things would never be the same. That little one then became the center of attention. God gave a gift that will demand untiring devotion and care. As the child grows, the needs will become more complex and the parental investment more demanding and challenging.

The sacred responsibility given to believing parents is clear: “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Godly parents teach their children reverence (for God and His Word), respect (for their parents and all in authority), and responsibility (in the home and in society).

What does it mean for children to obey their parents in the Lord? This article will focus on three chronological divisions: their youngest years, their “growing up” years, and their “grown and gone” years.

phase one: the preschool years

Is it possible to have a spiritual impact on such young children? Absolutely. A striking example is seen in Paul’s reference to the home of Timothy. From childhood (the Greek word brephos meant a very young child or infant) Timothy was acquainted with the sacred writings through the influence of two godly women: his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). Is there any value to this kind of instruction when children are so young? Much. These Scriptures are “able to make [one] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Pray that God will begin to mold the child’s heart by His truth so that their obedience will become instinctual. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Invest wisely, pray earnestly, and trust God to answer your prayers and reward your diligence as He sees fit. Is it possible for children at this young age to truly know Christ in a saving way? Indeed, it is.

The sacred responsibility given to believing parents is clear: “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
phase two: the school years

These are years of great significance as a young child matures physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. In many respects, the child grows into the kind of person that he or she will become.

What does it mean for children of this age to obey their parents in the Lord? Their obedience must flow from reverence for who the Lord is and what He has done for them. This obedience is not optional (Ex. 20:12; Lev. 19:3; Deut. 5:16). A (persistently) stubborn and rebellious son is in jeopardy of the severest punishment (see Deut. 21:18–21). The fate of a child who scorns a parent is graphically described: an eye plucked out and eaten by a bird of prey (Prov. 30:17).

Children’s obedience to their parents must be prompt, ungrudging, sincere, and with a thankful heart. To delay is to disobey. Grudging obedience betrays a heart of disobedience. Sincere obedience demonstrates a submissive heart. Thankfulness recognizes that parental correction shows their sincere love (see Heb. 12:6, 11).

phase three: adult children

What responsibility do these grown children now have toward their parents? These young adults have left their parents’ home and authority to establish their own homes. They will likely start their own families, but they have not ceased to be a part of the birth family that God providentially placed them in.

It is fitting and needful for grown children to continue to honor and respect their parents. The Bible mandates that honor is to be shown to the older generation (Lev. 19:32); how much more so to the parents who raised them (Prov. 23:22)? Children with aging parents must care for them in a manner that is fitting of love for them and for the Lord. Knowing specifically how to do this will call for fervent prayer and the seeking of godly advice. The answer is not always easy, but to neglect this is to play the part of an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:8).

May God mold our children’s hearts and lives in true obedience, not only to the parents who love them but also to the God who loves them with a perfect love. May godly parents wear the joyful crown of seeing their children and grandchildren living in a manner pleasing to the Lord (Prov. 17:6).

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From the July 2021 Issue
Jul 2021 Issue