Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “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. Ephesians 6:1-4, ESV.
God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel on their way to the Promised Land, first to those who left bondage in Egypt (Exodus 20) and then to the next generation, right before they entered the land (Deuteronomy 5). The forty years between those two proclamations were spent traveling the desert and watching the first generation die out as a consequence of their sinful distrust of God. Therefore, the Israelites who heard the retelling of the law in Deuteronomy understood the necessity of trusting the God who gave the law. His laws were for their good. Remarkably, the specific law Paul quotes in Ephesians 6 is the only law where God Himself turns that necessity into a promise: if the people will faithfully honor their parents, they will live long and happy lives in the Promised Land.
Paul brings this command forward to the new covenant people, the church. Under the new covenant in Christ, God still desires that children obey their parents. Accordingly, parents need to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and do so in a loving way that encourages them to obey.
Just like we observed in the previous instructions for husbands and wives, God has a design for the parents and children that, if followed by both, will bring blessings to both. Again, the practice of submission, which is so odious to the fallen world, when it is applied in a Christian relationship where both parties act in accordance with their God-given roles, will be a source of joy!
I am praying for you as you strive to live out God’s design in your relationships today—with a special prayer for moms and dads and their children!