I have never been punished by my parents for obeying them and I have many memories of what happened every time I disobeyed. I believed, that my parents followed the Bible when it said: “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV) Looking back to my childhood memories, I realized how much Mom and Dad loved me by disciplining me. I remember one of their favorite passages to teach us was the fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) As a parent, I am so grateful for my parents and for all parents who to take their role seriously both in life matters and especially in spirituality. As children, obedience is how we honor our parents. Let me add what Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:
- “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.” (Ephesians 6:1–3 NKJV)
Paul says that children ought to obey their parents in the Lord. What does in the Lord means? The phrase “In the Lord” in this passage means that if one is a Christian, he must obey his parents always, but not when he is told to do something that is against his Lord and God. For example, parents might suggest or force the child to disobey God. Such a request must not be honored by the child, because God must always be first. Remember what Jesus taught about commitment and relationships getting in the way:
- “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34–39 NKJV)
What Jesus said as recorded by Matthew, helps us better understand what Paul meant by obeying parents in the Lord. Truly, there is no better way to honor our parents than to do what the Bible says for us to do. All spiritually minded parents would want this for their children.
What about our relationship with the Father who is above all? How shall we honor him? Let me remind us that nothing is better than obedience when it comes to honoring God. God’s own Son, Jesus, is our perfect example showing us how one must honor the Father:
- “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,” (Philippians 2:5–9)
The Bible says that Jesus was obedient even at the face of the cruelest death, the cross. Paul urges us to let that mind or attitude which Christ had when he was on Earth, to be ours. If one does not obey God’s commandments, that person is not humble at all. Jesus, as recorded in the passage above, showed humility by being obedient. A Bible example of disobedience that comes to my mind is the account of King Saul. God commanded Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites and all of their possessions. Instead of doing what God said to do, Saul spared Agag the King, the best of their flocks, and all that was good. Saul did not listen to God. Then God sent Samuel to confront Saul, and Samuel said these words that we must learn to apply today:
- “So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22–23)
Consider also 1Samuel 15:17. Noticed that Samuel said to Saul that when he was little in his own eyes, referring to when he was humble, God made him king. But when he disobeyed God, he became prideful. It could be that Saul had thought to himself ” I think it would please God if I spared somethings to dedicate to Him or to offer as a sacrifice to Him,” but such a thought, even if it was sincere and with good intentions, it was simply disobedience (presumptuous sin). God did not command it so.
Are there areas in what we do today as God’s people, where we might mistakenly think “It does not matter to God if we do this or that,” when it really does matter to Him? We need to be very careful to listen to God’s Word. Sadly, I know many well-meaning people who sincerely want to honor God, but they do so in a manner which God did not command or they do so by altering God’s command. I think about the sons of Aaron as an example for us today:
- “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:1–2 NKJV)
How serious was God about obeying His command in this account? How serious is it to alter or add to God’s command? The next time you hear someone say “there is no passage that says we can’t,” remind them of Nadab and Abihu. Fire came from Lord and devoured them for doing something the Lord did not command them to do. There was no passage that said to them that they must not offer strange or profane fire, yet they were punished. Disobeying or altering God’s command is still a serious offense to God today.
What about being zealous for God? We sometimes get excited or passionate to the point where we forget to see first if God’s Word allows us or forbids us to do certain things. There were many in the past and even now, who are zealous to follow God and they follow Him in vain. Jesus said:
- “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”” (Matthew 15:8–9 NKJV)
Notice that the heart which was far from the Lord was one that actually desired to worship Him, but this one did not follow His command. The Jews were known for this attitude. Some went so far that they taught falsely that circumcision, as the law said, was required for salvation (Acts 15). Paul desired his own countrymen (Jews) to have the knowledge of God first, to guide their zealousness for God:
- “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1–3 NKJV)
Are you someone who is zealous for God? Is your zeal according to the commandments in His Word? My friend, zeal itself does not equal to obedience. But Zeal and following what the Word of God says is Obedience. Therefore it is essential that we know what the Bible says (2 Tim. 2:15). Take for example, in Hebrews 11, all those who were successful because in faith, were successful spiritually because they all obeyed God. They simply did what God said to do.
Will we be just like those recorded in Hebrews 11? Are we going to strive to be obedient to God by following His Word? Friends, let us not make the same mistake that King Saul made. Let us learn from the examples of the scriptures (Rom. 15:4). Let us not allow our culture or our own personal understanding to alter the commands of God. There is no better way to honor God than to obey Him. The Bible says that Jesus is your savior and mine IF we continue to obey Him: “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (Hebrews 5:8–9 NKJV) Will you obey Him? I’m telling you, it is far better!
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”” (John 8:31–32 NKJV)