Ephesians 6:1-3 Has No Expiration Date
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
The parenthetical statement is an added assurance to these at Ephesus regarding obedience to God’s commandments. (Exodus 20:12) In that disobedience often leads to the cause of death, the indication is that parents are obligated to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). This way, they grow up learning the difference between right and wrong, the necessity to do that which is right and place God first in all they say and do. The examples of the parents often prove as beneficial as the verbiage in teaching, so that combined, the children have every righteous tool needed to live long in the earth, and subsequently, live eternally with God! After all, parents must teach their children God’s Word!
As to when parents can stop caring for their children is as much a ponderous pondering as is when can children stop honoring parents. Frankly, there is no expiration date for either responsibility! As long as the parents still live, their children are still their children. In that respect, parents (especially the father … Ephesians 6:4) must not provoke the children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Yes, at times that may require an “older” adult correcting a “younger” adult, but as long as the parent and child live, that parent is still older and more experienced than that child! (See also Galatians 6:2; 1 John 5:16; et al).
While a parent loves the child always, there comes the time when the “apron string is cut” and we let them go. (Mark 10:7 – 8) When that day comes, it does not sever the ties of the flesh, but it greatly reduces (and eventually ends) the responsibilities of caring for two households! It’s called “emancipation” in legal terms, and in this country, that age is usually eighteen years of age. No, there’s nothing sinful or wrong about helping the children in righteous ways! They remain our children, and help is often required for spiritual guidance, decision-making in business matters, or family matters, and even financial troubles. (As they say, “been there, done that.” As parents, we tend to bend, and with the added persuasion of grandchildren, we become “soft touches” from time to time. But this doesn’t mean the child can impose dependence on the parents! It comes back to that “raising” situation: parents may need to be a bit more forceful in teaching their children how to care for their own!
Sadly, we parents tend to age faster than our children, and tremendously faster than our grandchildren! For some of us, the physical abilities we used to do are impossible for us now and we grow dependent on various tools and often personnel to do for us what we used to do for ourselves. Included in this aging process is the fact that we parents can find ourselves dependent on our children instead of our children being dependent upon us! That’s a difficult reality for some parents! We just don’t want to become burdens to our children!
We aren’t! At least we won’t be if the child has learned to honor father and mother. What a blessing it is for parents to see the heritage of aged days. The psalmist said, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127: 3-5) Those grandchildren we love so much could be the stars in our crowns of old age, and the crown is the solid foundation instilled within our children! If taught to honor us, they do so when they continue to prove it with respect, help, and love as we press onward into the sunset of life.
Honoring parents simply doesn’t have an expiration date! Have you noticed that even those parents who have passed from this life into eternity receive honor as we speak fondly of them, or reminisce of how they taught us to do this or that? “[They] being dead yet speaketh” has a much wider application than with just Abel. Mentally, we children hear the voices of dad and mom frequently, and we still obey! It isn’t because “dad and mom said so” as much as it is because they taught us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
It troubles me to note those who care nothing for their parents. It troubles me more to note some who believe their parents owe them everything – now and always! If trained up in the way they should go, (Proverbs 22:6), that child learned as well, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) There comes the time when they must learn; perhaps “the hard way.” Nonetheless, honoring those blessed souls we call “parents” has no expiration date! That being said, are we children of God honoring Him as we should? After all, He did raise us to love and serve Him. How are we doing with honoring Him?