I once read an article about parenting with the headline, “’Obey’ is not a four letter word.” Indeed. I see a lot of parents in Wal-Mart who seem to think it is. But a biblical view of parenting teaches us otherwise.
The Bible very rarely speaks directly to children, but when it does so it is unequivocal. “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph 6:1). And parents are likewise unambiguously commanded to be in authority over their children, instructing them in God’s ways. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them [God’s words] diligently to your children,” said the Lord to His people (Deut 6:6-7).
But what does it mean for children to obey?
It is obviously possible to do what you’re told with a heart full of rebellion. Is the standard mere external, compulsory compliance? I am reminded of the little boy sitting in the corner who told his mother, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but on the inside I’m standing up!”
The biblical standard of obedience is captured well in the dictum, “We obey right away, all the way, with a good attitude every day.” This is something that children hear around the halls and classrooms of Regents Academy quite often.
Obey right away. Slow obedience is no obedience. Prompt obedience is evidence of a heart that is willing and ready to obey. This heart-readiness to obey honors the authority and position of parents or teachers and therefore honors God.
Obey all the way. True obedience is complete and thorough obedience. If I tell my daughter to place the dirty glass in the dishwasher, but she places it in the sink instead, I don’t do myself or my daughter any favors if I say, “Well, at least she got close. At least she didn’t leave the glass on the table.” Obedience means obeying all the way, not just half the way or most of the way.
Obey with a good attitude every day. Sour-puss obedience is dishonoring to God. God desires our joyful obedience to those in authority over us, and He desires this same joy of our children. Obedience that says with facial gestures or posture, “I’ll obey but I don’t like it” may be compliance, but it’s not obedience.
We must train our children to obey. Our children are sons and daughters of Adam and are born with a bent toward selfishness and rebelliousness. But we must seek to capture their hearts and win their loyalty. Children who are thankful, joyful, loyal to their parents are children who obey from the heart. Only the gospel of Christ produces this kind of heart obedience, so we are reliant on God to give us and our children His grace. We must pray for our children diligently.
This year at Regents Academy teachers are joining parents in this training process, training children, both young and old, to obey from the heart. Like any training process, there is pain involved – the pain of correction and discipline. But there is also great joy when children are heartily obedient and readily loyal to those who are charged by God to instruct them.
You love your children and want the best for them. That is why you have them at Regents. We are aware of that great trust, and we will do everything in our power to love our precious students and strive daily to train them toward obeying right away, all the way, with a good attitude every day.