A few years ago I prepared and delivered a devotional series to our local Christian school Board of Directors meetings, (and if my Lord wills, may develop into a book) called “How to Teach Children to Have a Moral Compass. In it, I discuss one of the most important requirements God has of us, which is obedience and honor. God requires parents to train, teach, and discipline children, and gives a lot of passages on how to do so, but He basically gives only one requirement directly to children. It is simple, direct, and to the point. We find it in several places in scripture, but let’s look at one of them in Ephesians 6:1-3: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,” which is the first commandment with promise: “THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU AND YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.”
Christian parents (and also for this discussion, teachers and Christian school administration) are accountable to God. God is your boss. He is in charge of you. We all submit to Him and to His authority. We are to obey God, and to honor God. The word “obey” in this context means to learn what God says, and to do what He says. We are to obey Him in all we say and do. We are to obey Him in how we raise our kids in the teachings, nurture, and admonition of the Him. The word “honor” means several things, but here are the main meanings for us: We have His name on us (Christian), so we are to act as His representative, and to act as He does. We are to not do anything that would dishonor His name, or make Him look bad. Honor means we highly value God, and we highly respect God. Honor means we live according to His rules, and not break them, even if we don’t like some of them, or if we disagree with some of them. We completely and whole-heartedly trust God, even if we do not know why or do not agree with what He is doing or allowing to happen to us. We know God loves us more than we can imagine, and we know He wants the very best for us. We know God can see a “bigger picture” of our life and we trust He will guide us to, or cause all things to work together for the best result. We have a proper and respectful attitude toward God. Honor means we do not denigrate His name, we do not talk bad about Him, or let others do. Honor means to defend Him – sometimes at great cost to us.
Most little kids don’t have a concept of God, they cannot see him, nor can they read His word to understand Him. But they do see parents. Parents are the tangible “God” that they can understand. Parents and teachers are who they are to obey and honor. (Please don’t think I am implying we parents or teachers are God – stay with me here) God tells children to obey parents. The concept God has here, which is absolutely brilliant, is that when they learn to obey and honor the parents they see, when they mature, they will obey and honor the God cannot see. So there is a period of time in their life when their obedience and honor to God is directly manifested in their obedience and honoring of their parents. In other words, God is in charge of parents, and parents are in charge of their children.
So let’s re-do the prior paragraph about parents’ relationship to God, writing it again as the children’s relationship to parents:
Children (students), you are accountable to your parents. Your parents are your boss. Parents are in charge of you. You submit to them and to their authority. You obey your parents, and you honor your parents. Obeying means to learn what their rules and expectations of you are, and to do what they say. You are to obey them in all they say and do. You are to obey them because they are ordered by God to raise and train you in the teachings, nurture and admonition of God. God will hold your parents accountable to Him for how they raise you in the teachings, nurture, and admonition of the Him. Honor means several things. You kids have your parents’ name on you (probably your last name), so you are to act as their representative when they are not around, to act as God requires you to act. You are not to do anything that would dishonor your parents, or make them look bad. You are to highly value your parents. You highly respect your parents. Honor means you live according to their rules, and not break them, even if you don’t like some of them, or disagree with some of them. You always and wholeheartedly trust them. They love you more than you can imagine, and they want the best for you. Trust them even if you don’t understand why they are requiring something of you, because they know you very well, and they can see the “bigger picture” for you and how things will work out later in your life. Honor means you have a proper and respectful attitude toward your parents, always. Honor means you do not make them look bad. You do not talk bad about Him, nor let others do. Honor means to defend them – even if that means you may lose a friend or may be called names. God is still in charge of you, and you are still to obey and honor God, but the main way you do that is by obeying and honoring your parents. God commands you to do so. Eventually you will be on your own, and you will then obey and honor God directly. However, the passage still applies to all of your life. You are still to honor your parents in the ways mentioned above. This means even when they get old and need you as you need them now. ALWAYS honor your parents as long as they are alive, and even after they are gone.
Another element of that passage in Ephesians is to remember this is taken from one of the Ten Commandments. It is the first commandment that governs our relationships. It sets the best way for families to operate. It is God’s plan, and it is a perfect plan that works. In addition to that, it is the first commandment with a promise: A good, fulfilling, and long life. Since God said this, then we must assume He means that obeying and honoring our parents brings honor to God, and He will reward us with a long life, and as long as we keep this commandment, our life will be a good life filled with Gods blessings.
God uses the words obey, and honor in the same passage because they go hand-in-hand, you show honor by obeying, and your obedience honors who you obey.