All of us at EBC heard a great message yesterday from the Fifth Commandment. Pastor Smith opened it up for us, showing children the requirement to obey their parents. Talking more on this topic afterwards, this thought came to my mind: one of the biggest implications of this command is that parents ought to require obedience of their children. In other words, parents must have a willingness to command their children and teach their children that they must obey.
Parents can easily fall into these kinds of ruts: telling your child to do something three or four times (and getting angrier each time you tell them), or bribing them to do what you’ve asked, or pleading with your child to stop doing something in public so that you won’t be embarrassed. Parenting in this manner can not only lead to a great deal of frustration and anger on the part of parents, but it is also teaching the child that it’s ok to disobey.
As Christians, we’ve got to be convinced of the fact that God requires us to obey him. Obedience isn’t what gets us into the family of God, but it does please our heavenly Father and bring blessing into our lives. As the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.” In a similar way, parents ought to require obedience of their children. Obedience doesn’t make our children part of our family, but it is necessary for a happy and healthy home. There is blessing in obedience and we need to teach our children that.
Parents, we need to use the God-ordained means of discipline to instill in our children the fact that sin has consequences. That will only happen when we require obedience. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) When we don’t require obedience or discipline for disobedience, we communicate to our children that sin is not a big deal and that they don’t have to respect authority. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24)
Of course, this must all be done with grace. Requiring obedience doesn’t mean that parents should lose their temper and discipline in anger. Discipline should be an act of love, seeking to rescue the child from the ultimate consequences of disobedience, hell. It also provides parents with the opportunity to talk to their children about the gospel and why their disobedience needs to be covered in the blood of Jesus.
This kind of parenting takes effort. It requires effort to get up off the couch after a long day at work and deal with the rebellious two year old yet again. It requires effort to teach the stubborn three year old to speak respectfully to their parents. And it requires effort in prayer because the ultimate goal of requiring obedience is not to have well-behaved kids; it is the salvation of their souls, a goal that only God can ultimately bring about.
So parents, don’t be afraid to require obedience of your children. Not only will it teach your children the blessing of obedience, but it will also give you the opportunity to teach them about the Savior who can rescue them from their disobedience.
(We have some great parenting resources in our book store if you would like to read further on this subject)