How Children Please the Lord


Colossians 3:20
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Observations: As Paul describes what our new life looks like in Christ, he moves on to family relationships, how wives are to submit to their husbands (v18), and how husbands are to love their wives (v19). Next he turns to the parent/child relationship (v20-21). Firstly, children are to obey their parents. The word ‘obey’ in Greek literally means to listen. Children are to listen to their parents. And not just to things they like, but ‘in everything.’ God commands parents to ‘impress [his law] on their children. (Dt 6:7)’ Parents are to guide and instruct their children in the ways of the Lord, and children are to listen and obey. But Paul primarily motivates this obedience not because it is commanded, but because it ‘pleases the Lord.’ The Greek literally reads, ‘for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.’ For children ‘in the Lord,’ it is right and good to obey your parents. Out of connection with Jesus flows obedience to parents. I am fascinated by that word ‘pleasing.’ On one hand it is impossible to please the Lord, even our most righteous acts are filthy rags in God’s sight (Isa 64:6). But on the other hand, once we have been renewed by the Holy Spirit, our good deeds do please God. God is displeased with sin, even while being pleased with us (if we have faith in Jesus; Heb 11:6). But God is also pleased when we do what is right. Here God is pleased when children obey their parents.

Application: When Paul tells children to obey their parents in everything, does he actually mean everything? The answer is ‘no!’ Paul is writing in the context of the whole of Scripture, and he is aware that God takes precedence over everything else. Children are not to follow their parents into sin. Children also reach a point in their lives when they are no longer children, and while they are always to respect their parents they make their own decisions. But the principle is that children are to obey their parents for this pleases the Lord. So to all the children reading this: are you obeying your parents? To the parents Paul says, ‘do not embitter, or discourage your children. (v21)’
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, how we live as families matters to You. You care about how I treat my wife, and how she treats me. You care about how I treat my children and how they treat me. You invented families and You know how they ought to function. But even more than that, You are pleased when they function according to Your will, when they are a reflection of You. Lord, help me to raise my children well, in the knowledge of You and Your great love for them in Christ Jesus. Lord, help me to teach them to be obedient, just as Jesus was obedient to You. Lord, may my connection with Jesus overflow in what is well-pleasing to You. In His name I pray. Amen. 

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