Parents “The Lord’s entire manner of educating is one calculated to win people for Himself, so that they willingly follow His leadership, and His example should always stand before the eyes of all parents as an ideal after which they may strive.”
Kretzmann wrote that to parents over 100 years ago.
The Word to children and parents: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise: “that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
The relation between husband and wife naturally suggests that between parents and children.
St. Paul addresses himself to the children first: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
The apostle does not make it a matter of choice or of disposition, but of duty: it is the right thing, it is in accordance with the Law of God, with His order from the beginning, that children yield obedience to their parents.
It is also not a matter following upon a mutual agreement, but it is a state into which the children are born; by the fact of their birth God places them into subjection to their parents. The duty of obedience on the part of children is one from which God Himself does not dispense, except in cases where His will is higher, Acts 5:29. Neither can the state dispense from this duty, nor, in fact, the parents themselves, for they are God’s representatives and will commit a grievous sin if they do not maintain the honor of their position.
Christian children will therefore be obedient to their parents, not merely on the basis of natural right, but in the Lord, to give evidence of their relation to God in this manner. In support of his position Paul quotes the Fourth Commandment: Honor thy father and mother, Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16.
The honor due to parents includes two points: that the children recognize and acknowledge their parents as their superiors, as the representatives of God, and that they, by this token, gladly submit themselves to the will of the parents. The apostle adds, further to stress the importance of the commandment: Which is the first commandment with promise, That well it may be to thee and thou mayest be long-living on the earth. Because the Fourth Commandment is a precept of the first degree, because it belongs to the principal and most important commandments, and because a special promise is attached to it, therefore it demands unequivocal consideration and unhesitating obedience.
Note that the apostle omits that part of the promise which was intended specifically for the Jewish people, thus making the commandment read for all nations.
If children desire to have the good will of God resting upon them, which shows itself in granting welfare and long life according to His gracious will, then they should live a life of obedience to their parents. Note: This promise is the promise of the heavenly Father and is fulfilled even in cases where good fortune and length of life are not given according to the standard of this world. Mark also that the commandment is emphatically addressed to every individual child, with the word “honor” occupying the position of greatest stress.
The precept to the parents is brief, but comprehensive: “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 WMB)
Although the parental duty is set forth in terms of the father’s obligation, yet the mother’s rule and responsibility, being included in that of the husband, is just as strongly enjoined.
Parents will, first of all, avoid all things which are apt to embitter, irritate, and exasperate their children, injustice, unreasonable severity, a senseless goading and teasing, and the like, all of which is likely to make the children indisposed to render the honor and obedience which is their duty. To some extent, at least, the blame will be on the side of the parents in that case; even Christian parents offend more often on the side of the Law than on that of the Gospel.
Parents should nurture their children, take care of their entire physical, mental, moral, and religious training; their discipline in such education, their admonition by reproof, remonstrance, and blame should be that of Christ, such training as proceeds from Him and is prescribed by Him.
The Lord’s entire manner of educating is one calculated to win people for Himself, so that they willingly follow His leadership, and His example should always stand before the eyes of all parents as an ideal after which they may strive. A whole volume of sound pedagogy is contained in this one verse. (Ephesians 6:4)