God’s Will for Children
As we look around us, there are clear signs that we are living in the last days.
It’s not just the international turmoil, crime and injustice. There is a far more fundamental sign of the end times: the foundations of the family are crumbling.
Listen to how Romans 1:28-30 reveals this internal collapse:
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents…”
Now it may seem to you that in this list of destructive sins the phrase “disobedient to parents” is out of place.
Yet disobedience does not make this list by accident. For God ranks disobedience in the home among the most dangerous evils that destroy a life, family, and society.
Over 10 years after writing Romans, Paul penned his final epistle- we call it II Timothy.
Listen to how in 3:1 he describes evil of the last days: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, AND THEN HE ADDS: disobedient to parents.”
There it is again. A failure of children to obey their dad and mom describes those who have fallen far from God.
And friends, children who do not obey their parents is no small thing in God’s eyes.
Rather it is one of the most revealing indicators of how our lives and families have departed from God’s perfect plan for the family.
– Disrespect and rudeness to parents has become commonplace.
– Defiant refusal to obey is prevalent.
– Teenage rebellion is considered normal.
– And there is an alarming rate of parent abuse- children verbally and physically attack their parents. On one website alone well over 300 parents wrote of their own children who had hurt them or of other children who had done the same to their parents.
Dads and moms who have been cursed at, bitten, kicked and spat upon by their sons and daughters.
But even worse, many children who have grown up in the church walk away from the God their parents loved. And they show they never truly experienced the greatest life in the world- life with Jesus Christ.
Research from the Southern Baptist Convention indicates 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.
Their findings also show that 88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18. That’s nearly 9 out of 10 high schoolers that walk away from the church.
Now what this reveals is a refusal of children to submit to God’s authority and their parent’s authority.
Yet, even among children who stay in the church there is great concern.
For in so many “Christian homes” children are disrespectful, disobedient, and defiant to their parents.
The breakdown of the home so clearly reveals what happens when children and parents don’t follow God’s design for the family.
As so we must return to God’s perfect plan for the home.
We have been studying in Eph. 5 about relationships in the family. In verse 22 we saw God’s clear instruction to wives: “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
And the husbands calling? V. 25 “Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Verse 28 then clarifies that means very practically that husbands “must love their own wives as their own bodies.”
What a high calling that can only be followed as we walk in total submission to God’s Spirit.
That’s what Eph 5:18 calls being filled with God’s Spirit. For Spirit controlled living is the fuel that feeds a burning heart for God in marriage.
As we come now to chapter 6, Paul takes up the responsibility of children. Look with me at verse 1:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
The opening word identifies those to whom God targets this verse.
They are the children. That word “children” (ta teknon) describes all offspring, boys and girls, in relation to their parents.
It includes children of all ages- from newborns all the way up to young adults still living under the parent’s authority.
Now children here today. It is important that you understand how God views you. He sees you in a very special and unique way, and He wants you to know that.
- God made you and all children. You are not just the result of chance nor evolution.
For from the moment a baby is conceived in his mother, that is a life God has designed for His glory.
David rejoices in Psalm 139:13-14 saying to God, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
Therefore, children since God has made you so wonderfully, your body and your soul, you owe your life to Him.
- Our Lord Jesus has a special love for children.
I love what takes place in Mark 10:13-16 when parents bring their children to Christ.
Thinking those little ones weren’t important enough to be around Jesus, the disciples start rebuking the children. “Why are you here? Do you really think Jesus has time for you?”
Yet Jesus wouldn’t let the children be sent away.
Imagine how happy those little lives were when they heard Jesus say, “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
How wonderful. Jesus really loves children! And He uses their childlike faith as the supreme quality of those any who will belong to Him.
Another day Jesus called a little child to come to him and placed the child in front of the gathered people.
Then he tells them, (Mat. 18:3–5) these precious words:
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.”
Christ wasn’t saying all children automatically belong to Him but that all who belong to Him must come to him with humble, believing faith as a child.
- God has given this section of Scripture, Eph. 6:1-3 especially to children. It’s the fullest text in the Bible devoted entirely to children.
Along with the parallel in Colossians 3 this is the only place in Scripture wher God directly addresses children.
In fact, it was meant for all the children that were part of the church at Ephesus.
And it is intended for all of you children as well.
So it is, God here targets children who have the capacity to understand and do what He says.
That’s important to note. Because the instruction here is not addressed to parents. But to children.
He charges them with this responsibility…. and He expects them to do what He has told them.
Children, that means this is doubly important for you to listen to what God wants to tell you from these verses. Because God is saying, “I have you in mind. It’s for you!”
And through this, be encouraged children, wherever your relationship at home looks like, and wherever you stand before the Lord,
He wants to change your life.
He wants you to experience the most wonderful relationship with Him. And He wants you to experience the most wonderful relationship with your parents.
He shows you how in verse 1 by giving you
- The Command v.1
Notice the clear call Gods gives to you children in verse 1: “Children, obey your parents.”
That English word “obey” actually means “to listen under.” The idea is listening to one by showing a positive response to them.
The Greeks of Paul’s day used this word to describe what a person would do when hearing someone knocking on their door. He would listen carefully before opening it.
In a far greater way, children, God expects you to listen carefully to your parents.
And that should definitely include paying careful attention and looking at them when they say something to you.
When your dad or mom in conversation with you ask, “Are you listening to me?” What do they want to know?
Not just if you hear what they are saying.
But if you are paying close attention and will heed their words. That’s obedience.
A missionary translator struggled to find a word for “obedience” in the native language.
As he walked home from the village one day, he whistled for his dog, and it came running at full speed.
An old man who was watching, said admiringly in the native language. “Your dog is all ear!” Immediately the missionary knew he had his word for obedience– to be all ear!
Children, you too are to be all ears to what your parents say.
Now, obedience does not come naturally to a child. It’s not the automatic reaction of a boy or girl to parents. Why not?
Scripture clearly teaches that every child is born into the world with a sin nature.
Romans 5:18 puts it to us clearly, “So then as through one transgression (that’s Adam’s) there resulted condemnation to all men….”
That’s why every child left to his own will fall deeper into self-centeredness, lack of discipline, and disobedience
So we see a call to obedience is a call to battle against self-rule.
If that battle is lost in the home and if disobedience is left unchecked, there will be drastic consequences in future relationships.
There will be disobedience to teachers, bosses, friends, and even to the ultimate authority- God Himself.
That’s why God says every child must obey.
Now, the command to obey parents permeates God’s Word.
Throughout Proverbs, God’s handbook for the family, Solomon pleads for children to give ear and follow their parent’s instruction.
For the wisest thing a child can ever learn to do is to show obedience to his parents.
Prov. 1:8 “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
Prov. 3:1 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.”
Prov. 4:1-4 “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction. 3 When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, 4 then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.”
What is this father Solomon doing? He is doing what all wise fathers do. He is teaching his son to obey!
Further in Proverbs 6:20-21 we read,
“My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; 21 bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck.”
The idea is to let obedience adorn your life as would a beautiful necklace.
And in Proverbs 7:1-3 the father says,
“My son, keep my words and treasure my commandments within you. 2 Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
The father here uses a vivid word picture to show his son how to carefully listen to his teaching.
He was to keep his dad’s words as the “apple of his eye.” How’s that?
The apple of our eye is the pupil, the center black dot in your eye. That’s what must be carefully protected. For if you don’t protect the pupil, you can lose your eyesight.
So God is saying, “children, that’s how carefully you must guard and treasure your parent’s words to you.” They are your life. They are your protection. They are your treasure.
Did you notice the second great metaphor?
Binding the parent’s teaching on the fingers and writing them on the tablet of the heart – that speaks of how you children must choose to never forget the things your parents teach you.
They must be indelibly etched on your heart.
Like the large limestone church sign out front of this building. The words are etched deeply in that stone and are there to stay.
Now, how should this commitment to obedience work out in the home? And parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and future parents, this is for you too. It’s for all in the church to know and be able to prayerfully encourage children in this.
- First, children must obey both parents. That means both dad and mom. Sure, your dad might be firmer in his discipline and expectations. Yet God calls you children to obey your father and mother.
- Biblical obedience must be continual.
The form of the command in verse 1 is present tense. That tells us showing obedience must be an ongoing and constant commitment.
Children, your every word and action God says, must be marked by obedience to your dad and mom.
– In other words, following what you are asked to do is not to be just when you feel like it and want to.
– It’s not just when you agree with your parents.
– It’s not just when you understand their reasoning for what they want you to do.
Children that means obedience must mark how you live every day. It’s your wonderful full-time job from God!
If you want to please God, you must obey your dad and mom. Yet, to disobey your parents means you disobey God.
I know. I was a child. I know it’s easy to disobey and not get caught.
Yet God always sees. And you can never get away with disobedience before God, never.
Now, children, don’t try to rationalize when you don’t do what your parents tell you to do.
Don’t minimize areas where you do your own thing and think it’s OK because you tell yourself it’s not a big deal or that your friends don’t obey their parents. For all disobedience is sin!
Let’s say your dad or mom ask you to eat all your sandwich, to finish your homework before you go outside or to clean your room well.
And instead, you choose to leave half your sandwich, you only do part of your homework, and you clean only part of your room.
You tell yourself, well, “These things are just little things, so it doesn’t really matter
Does it matter if in some things you don’t obey?
In how many things does God expect obedience from children to their parents?
Col. 3:20 gives us God’s clear answer: “Children, be obedient to your parents IN ALL THINGS!” That means in everything.
God expects you children to obey your parents in every area. It’s to be in all things- big, small and in between.
In 1 Samuel 15, Saul chose to let the evil Amalekite king Agag live. And on top of that, he took the booty from the battle rather than destroying everything as God had commanded.
When Samuel the prophet confronts him, Saul says, (20-21) “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 “But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
What’s Saul doing? He’s playing the blame game, trying to justify his disobedience to God.
Samuel then drops the hammer of God’s judgement. He tells Saul, (v. 22):
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
Here’s the point. Saul tried to justify his incomplete obedience. And Samuel calls it rebellion.
Wow! All willful disobedience against the Lord is an act of rebellion. So too, all willful disobedience of a child against his or her parents comes from a rebellious heart.
- Thirdly, obedience children show to parents must be immediate.
To delay and procrastinate in response to an instruction violates God’s clear command to children. In fact, delayed obedience is truly not obedience at all.
At the end of Luke 9, three men realize Jesus calls them to follow Him. But two of them delay and give excuses. One says, “Let me first go and bury my father (which was probably a lie).
And another says, “I fill follow you, but first I need to say good-bye to those at home.”
Their delay and refusal to immediately follow Christ showed their disobedience to Him.
The writer of Psalm 119:60 shows the right response. And this should be every child’s eager reply: “I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments.”
So children, when your parents ask you to do something, don’t wait. Don’t ask why. Please God and your parents by immediate obedience.
- Biblical obedience must be complete.
Doing only part of what one is asked to do, or not finishing a task assigned by parents is really what? Disobedience. That’s right.
Partial obedience is actually not obedience at all.
In Joshua 9, God tells the Israelites to drive the enemies out of the land. They get off to a good start and conquer Ai and Jericho. But then they make an exception with the Gibeonites.
And because of that incomplete obedience they had grief from those Gibeonites for centuries
Dads and moms, you can give your children all kinds of toys and gifts.
– You can provide them with a safe home, you can be sure they have clean clothes and nutritious meals.
– You can get them the best education and help develop all their abilities.
But if you don’t require them to obey in all things, well then, they are headed for disaster.
We need to remember Eli’s sons Hophni and Phineas (I Samuel 3).
Eli was a priest who served God in the temple.
Yet Eli never required his 2 boys to obey.
He never rebuked them for their disobedience.
And because of that God punished them- He had them both killed in battle. Then Eli’s fall over backwards and dies.
But here’s the other side that’s so encouraging.
Parents, if you require obedience of your children, you are preparing them for a life of great usefulness to the Lord.
In that way you are directing their child’s heart to embrace a life of obedience to Christ.
We can therefore say, “The most fundamental and pivotal training of all life that a child must understand is how to obey.”
And that must be first learned in the home.
After the surrender of British Gen Cornwallis to George Washington, a banquet was given for the officers. A distinguished French officer asked Washington’s mother how she managed to raise such a splendid son. She replied, “I taught him to obey.
Parents, are you teaching your children to obey? To obey your Words and the source of all instruction, God’s Word?
That’s God’s high calling and stewardship He has given to you to faithfully keep.
Tragically, countless families even in the church have children that don’t take obedience to their parents seriously. Instead, the children have jockeyed themselves into the position of doing as they please and challenging their parents’ authority.
One foreigner to America said that the thing that impressed him most about America was the way parents obeyed their children.
God says, “No’. Children, you are to obey your parents!”
It is to you, children to whom I have given this role of submission and obedience. That’s your calling. That’s what I expect of you.
So, to all of you who are at this time children, listen carefully:
The most important thing about you – is not how pretty or strong you think you are.
– it isn’t how smart you are or grades you get.
– it isn’t how good you are in sports or how well you can play an instrument.
– it’s not how many friends you have
-it’s not even how many Bible verses or Bible stories you know (though that is so important!).
Children, God says what is by far the most vital question about you is, “Do you really obey your parents?”
Now it’s not an easy thing to obey parents completely and in everything, right?
What parents ask sometimes seems unreasonable (like having to go to bed or get up at a certain time).
Other times it seems unimportant and trivial (like being asked to help around the house).
Or maybe you think that it doesn’t matter if you disobey if your parents don’t check up on you or forget about it.
Well, let’s notice the clarification that follows.
Clarification #1 “Children, obey your parents: in the Lord!”
“In the Lord” tells us who is the main audience of all obedience. It’s the Lord Jesus Christ. Now this is incredible.
Children, you must obey not only because it is what your parents want. Even more so it is because that’s what the Lord wants of you!
So every time you do what your parents have called you to do, you are saying, “Yes”
to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Children, if your parents want you to finish ALL of your chores before doing something you prefer, guess what Jesus wants of you in that situation? All of your chores!
So say “Yes” in your heart to Jesus Christ by obeying your dad and mom.
Never forget this children. To obey your parents is to obey the Lord. To disobey them is to disobey the Lord.
And never ever think that you can get away with any disobedience.
Your parents may not always see or know if you have obeyed them fully. “But all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Heb. 4:13
That’s the Lord Jesus Christ. So to have joy at home, children, requires surrender to Christ as master.
Apart from Christ ruling your life, God’s call to you to obey your parents is impossible to do.
– Yet when you understand your sinfulness and need for a Savior.
– When you turns away from sin and fully trust Christ as ruler of his life, well then everything changes.
Then God’s Spirit enters your life and takes control.
And He gives you as a child the supernatural desire and ability to obey his parents!
Children, if you find that most of the time you don’t really obey your parents. If you really don’t care about pleasing them.
Then if may very well be that you don’t truly know Christ.
Maybe you have never truly turned away from a life of sin and living for self.
Well, God calls you to repent (turn away) from a life of disobedience.
He calls you to trust Him completely to live His life through you as your Lord and Savior.
When Christ enters a life, he gives a whole new heart to obey. It’s the wonderful obedience of faith Scripture speaks of.
Many of you children by God’s grace have experienced that.
You love and seek to obey your parents because you know it pleases your Lord.
And some of your lives by God’s grace are a growing fulfillment of Col. 3:20. I read you the first part earlier, Children, be obedient to your parents in all things,
And look at what follows: “for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”
Children, just imagine the Lord looking at how your respond to your dad and mom and saying, “Well done! Excellent! Way to go in your obeying your parents! That give Me glory!”
So, you must choose to obey because it is to the Lord. Yet there is another reason.
Why should children obey their parents in the Lord?
Paul adds at the end of verse 1, “for this is right.” That means:
Obedience is the children’s God-given role. It comes right to them from God. There is no need for proof from experts or any public opinion poll. It is right!
Boys and girls, older and younger. Obedience is always the right choice because that is God’s perfect plan for you.
So children realize that some things your parents require you will just have to accept without being able to understand at that time.
That means that it isn’t appropriate to ask, “But why?” Trust God. He says, “for this is right.”
It is also right for children to obey parents since that God has given them more knowledge, wisdom and experience then their children.
God therefore has uniquely prepared dads and moms to guide their steps down the path of life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the paramount example of obedience in the home. As a boy, he obeyed Joseph and Mary, his earthly parents every day and in ever way.
Luke 2:51 comments that “Christ went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them.”
Christ showed perfect obedience at every point.
Just imagine. If Joseph asked Jesus to help him with a tough project in the shop Christ would have been the most obedient helper.
If he told Jesus to cut 50 pieces of wood a certain way, Jesus would have cut 50 pieces of wood that way.
If his mother Mary asked him to come in the house for dinner, well he would have done so with no delay. None.
If his Joseph and Mary requested him to help watch his sinful brothers and sisters He would have gladly done that without complaint.
Friends, Jesus Christ IS the perfect model of obedience.
So children, think much of Christ and His obedience. Let him be your constant inspiration to obey your parents.
And ask God to show you ways in which you have not taken obedience to your parents seriously.
Ask Him to help you see habits of disobedience in your life.
As He shows you, ask forgiveness from sinning against God, and ask your parents forgiveness for sinning against them.
Dads and moms, if you have failed to require your children to meet the biblical command and obey you, confess that to God. And ask God to strengthen you and your children to obey Him in all things.
God calls all of us to fix our eyes on Jesus.
For His life compels us all to full obedience to our Heavenly Father.
Gracious heavenly Father, we praise You for caring for us as Your children. Thank You for giving us Your precious Word. We confess our failure to trust in You and listen to your voice.
Forgive us we pray from our lack of sensitivity and obedience to You. Cause us to love You more and do the things that are pleasing in your sight.
And for each child here this morning, O God, teach them to hate sin and all disobedience. Guard their hearts from the lies of the world. Show any that haven’t turned from sin their great need for Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
And place in them through your Holy Spirit a hunger and humility to walk in joyful obedience to their parents. We ask these things that Christ will get much glory in our lives, families and church. And in His name we pray, amen.
God’s Will for Children Pt. 1
II Tim. 3:1-2
How God views children:
- God made all children!
- Jesus has a special love for children!
- God has given Eph. 6:1-3 to children!
- The Command: “Children, obey your parents”
How should a commitment to obedience work out in the home?
I Sam. 15:20-22
I Sam. 3
- Clarification #1: “in the Lord”
- Clarification #2: “for this is right”
How would God have me be an obedient and blessed doer of His Word?