In this chapter, we see an extension of Paul’s teaching on our relationship with God and how it shows in our relationships with each other.
In chapter 5, we see that just as the church submits to Christ as her husband, a wife is to submit to her husband. And just as Christ loves the church and treats it as part of himself, so a husband is to love his wife and treat her as part of himself, for God has joined them together as one.
Here in chapter 6, we see the parent-child relationship we have with God. Paul says,
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (1)
Why is it right? Because God has given the children to their parents as a trust. He has given them responsibility over their children for that time of growing up and maturing. And so it’s only right that children obey, even if they don’t always understand all their parents tell them to do.
It’s also right because it’s a picture of our relationship to God. He is our Father. And unlike our earthly fathers and mothers, he truly does know what is best. And so even when we don’t always understand why God tells us to do certain things, we should obey. For only in doing so, will we find true blessing.
That’s why Paul says,
“Honor your father and mother” — which is the first commandment with a promise — “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (2-3)
A child’s obedience to their parents is to be a picture to them of the blessing that comes when we are obedient to God.
Unfortunately, not all parent-child relationships are a good picture of that. Why? Because parents fail to show what God is truly like in their actions. They don’t discipline their children. Or just as bad, they discipline them too harshly.
Some parents try to motivate their children by never praising them and always criticizing them.
Other parents fail to show sympathy for their children in their troubles and may instead mock them.
These things fracture their relationship with their children and warps their view of God as their Father.
And so Paul tells parents,
“Fathers, do not exasperate (or embitter — Colossians 3:21) your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Just as our Father in heaven loves and raises us, so we are to follow our Father’s example and love and raise our children.
Two questions to close.
How well did your parents portray God to you in how they raised you? If they didn’t do so well, then remember to take your eyes off of them, and put your eyes fully on Him. Because no matter how badly your parents failed you, God never will.
How well are you portraying God to your children? Do they see God in you?
I know I fail too often. And so my prayer is that God will continue to change me, so that my daughter can see God in me.
What kind of parent are you?