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.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4, New King James version)
Across our country, many children of all ages will be looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift for their dad. The same thing happened a month ago for Mother’s Day. God created and established the family unit as one of the ways of handing out his many blessings. Even with the broken homes and blended families in our day, God still sends his blessings out.
In our family, homemade cards and gifts were always encouraged as a good way of showing love and respect to Mom and Dad. Another good way of showing love and respect to parents is obedience. All kids know it’s the right thing to do. However, simple obedience to your parents is not “the right thing” the author is talking about in these verses from the Bible’s book of Ephesians. Obedience to your parents “in the Lord” or “in connection with the Lord” is the right thing. This is all backed up by one of the Ten Commandments.
The command to “Honor your father and mother” is, like all the other Commandments, in everyone’s heart. Everyone the world over knows it. What has always struck me is what the commandment does not say. It doesn’t say honor them if they deserve it — it just says honor them. Also, there are no age limitations — it applies to you and to me. It doesn’t say, “Honor them till you’re 18 and/or out of the house.”
Children who are taught about Jesus at home know, by faith, why they are often disobedient to parents. They know they are sinners who fall short of God’s and their parent’s expectations. Through faith in God’s Word, children learn the good news of sins forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice for them on the cross. They know, by faith, about the empty tomb and the victory over sin, death and the devil. They know, by faith, the promise of eternal life in heaven as God’s own dear children. They know, by faith, that the perfect obedience Jesus had for his parents, and for his heavenly Father, is now accounted to them.
With this good news, children learn to repent of disobedience, knowing their parents will forgive the same as Jesus does. With this good news, Jesus enables the children’s hearts to honor their father and their mother. With the commandment comes the promise of a better life, and of long life on the Earth. We trust in Jesus who says; “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJ)
What a great joy it is for fathers and mothers to teach God’s Word to their children. What a joy it is for us by faith to lay claim to being God’s own children. There is nothing more nourishing for life than to be fed with the bread of life, Jesus.
As we celebrate our fathers, let’s remember that with faith in Jesus at the center of your life, whether you are a husband and dad, wife and mother, son, or daughter, your family will be blessed by the Lord. May God give you all a blessed Father’s Day.
The Rev. Dave Naumann serves St. John’s Lutheran Church in Clarkston and Peace Lutheran Church in Orofino.