- Curt Leonard
Christ is Supreme Even in Parenting
Christ is in charge over all of life and this includes parenting. In Colossians 3:20-21 we saw what Christ expects from both children and mom and dad. We will look at some other prominent passages about parenting in this devotional.
Read Ephesians 6:1-4
Paul says much of the same type of things here as in Colossians, though there are some differences. One of the major differences is that Paul gives some reasons for children needing to obey their parents. What are those reasons given in Ephesians 6:1-3?
What is emphasized here is that the children’s obedience is motivated by 2 large reasons. First, it is right (or what is moral and fitting) and second, that it will produce long and effective blessings in their lives. We will focus on the promise given here.
This promise of blessing is embedded in the commandment of God to honor your father and mother (see Ex 20:11). Clearly, the specific part of the promise to live long on the land is restricted to ancient Israel in the land of Canaan, but the general promise that long life and blessing evidently still remains in effect as we live on this earth, wherever we may reside.
Why is it practically true that the obedience of children to mom and dad can lead to tangible benefits like things going well and longer life? For some help in answering this check out some of these verses listed in Proverbs or feel free to scan other parts of the Bible. The verses below are seeking to give us some real blessings that come from listening well to counsel from parents in various areas of life. Consider what obeying will help them get and what will help them avoid in life…
· Prov 1:8 and following verses
· 2:1 and following verses
· 3:1 and following verses
· 4:1 and following verses (esp. 4:10 and following)
· 5:1 and following verses
· 6:1 and following verses
· 7:1 and following verses
Children should be encouraged to know that part of the blessings of obedience is the practical blessings in real life. While we all desire that children seek to obey purely because it is the right thing to do, the reality is that blessings can also serve as a real encouragement to them.
Parents, when you give commands or correct them do you emphasize the practical, real-world benefits of listening to mom and dad? The Bible does not teach all “duty” and no “blessings”. The encouragement to children is that in listening to parents they can put themselves in a position of real blessings from God in everyday living now and in the future!
*Remember that this promise here (as well as similar promises listed in Proverbs) are not intended by God to be legal or iron-clad guarantees of what will inevitably take place in every single life. This is generally true, though there may be times of disease, war, famine and the unique exercises of God’s sovereignty in life that override this. For proof, recall that Jesus perfectly honored and obeyed His parents and yet His life was cut short for our salvation! But typically, when children obey their parents, God blesses them with the practical benefits of protection and blessings in this life. This can be anything from the blessings of things like safety in how they drive a car, avoiding trouble with the government by not committing crimes, preventing painful physical, social and financial consequences of immorality, and stopping them from making foolish financial decisions. And certainly, the ultimate real-world blessing is the child being transformed by Jesus and all of the real-world benefits this provides!
Mom and dad, consider the last few interactions with your children, was there any talk of the great blessings that will be placed on your children if they obey? How might you add this concept to the way you talk to your children about obeying and honoring the next time?
Finally, fathers (and mothers by implication) are warned to not anger their children, but rather to raise them through the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The first word “discipline” probably means general education/training and the second (“instruction”) word is probably slightly more negative, meaning correction of something that was wrong.
What does it look like practically to have a general instruction/education in the things of the Lord?
This can take on many different forms, but it would certainly include teaching them the truths about Jesus, the gospel, and the teachings of the Bible. It would include demonstrating the values of what the Christian life looks like in lifestyle. And it would also include enforcing the commands of God in the home and correcting anything that is out of step with the Lord Jesus’s values.
Without getting too bogged down with details, do you have a plan for doing this, mom or dad? If not, what will you do to start one? If you have one, what will you do to improve it?
If you are not a parent, how can this passage help you support other parents or children?
Often parents feel nothing but guilt, anxiety and depression regarding parenting. And sometimes messages that focus on these things only increase shame and guilt. Let me seek to help you. First, you are loved and saved by the grace of God. Your successes and failures as parents will not increase God’s love for you, nor decrease God’s love for you. Do not make parenting the measure of your worth in God’s eyes. The gospel has already demonstrated that you specifically are loved. The grace of God will not change toward you. Secondly, do not make the goal of your parenting to be solely the obedience of your children. The command of God is for you to parent to the best of your ability to be Christ-like parents. The goal is not perfect children, but faithful parenting. You can scan the Scripture and you will not find the command “have perfect children”. The command is for you to seek to love them by instructing them in the things of the Lord. Your success is not necessarily how your children turn out, but whether you sought to faithfully parent them in a godly manner. If you seek that as your goal, this will get rid of pressure we often feel as Christian parents. And it will help children not to be suffocated under the unfair expectations we can place on them. Faithful parenting is the goal, not perfect children. Seek to honor Jesus in this and you will often grow in your parenting ability and also love for your children. Thirdly, remember the gospel as you parent. Let the gospel be the content of your teaching and the approach you take in raising your children. This will help us naturally and properly discipline and instruct them in the Lord.
Prayer: Our Father. You are a good and perfect parent. We are often not. Forgive us of our attitudes and our approaches. Protect our children from the harm of our foolish parenting and give us wisdom to know how to parent like you. Also, give our children a changed heart and a sincere desire to obey you so that they may experience the deep blessings that come from honoring parents. Remind us of your eternal love for us, and from this peace give us rest in our souls, affection for our children and freedom from anxiety so that we would focus on honoring you as we raise our children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.