Isn’t it just so easy to quote Exodus 20:12 when our kids leave their dishes in the sink, their laundry on the floor, their rooms messy, etc.? We just love to whip out Commandment 5 when they disobey us, don’t we? We suddenly become great expositors of scripture in such moments. Spurgeon would be impressed. I’m sure that Luther and Calvin would be given pause at our acumen regarding scripture recall.
Paul adds a warning after reiterating this favorite verse of parents:
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(I wonder how often we go off track as parents in bringing “them up in the discipline and instruction of The Lord”.)
I have some questions worth pondering:
Are you worthy of your children’s obedience?
Could you even become worthy of your children’s obedience?
I don’t think so, and… I don’t think so.
The only one who is worthy of obedience… is God.
So, why then do the New Testament writers go to such great lengths to encourage honoring parents, spouses, slave masters (employers), government, pastors (elders), and also not provoking our children to anger? Because God is honored when we honor who He commands us to honor. In other words, God is honored when we embrace our various roles of obedience.
In a recent car ride with the family, I had asked the kids why they should obey or honor their mom and I. They gave the correct answer: “God commands it.” Amen! I then highlighted the fact that that is the only reason to honor us, because we are actually NOT WORTHY of their honor. We are sinners, just as they are. My wife and I are not worthy of our children’s submission. I am not worthy of my wife’s submission. The government is not worthy of my submission. God is worthy of my submission to government. God is worthy of my wife’s submission to me. God is worthy of my kid’s submission to my wife and I. I then drove home the point to my kids that they are to honor us because… it honors God.
We provoke our kids to anger when we attempt to impose Commandment 5 in an improper context. We are not worthy of our kid’s obedience to us. We are not worthy of anyone’s honoring.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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