Every repetition of the fifth commandment in scripture ends with the reminder that there are consequences for obedience or disobedience. Col. 3:20 is no exception. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
Although we are justified by faith alone and made righteous with Christ’s righteousness because we believe, it is still possible to please or displease God. Col. 3:20 tells us that obedience “please the Lord” just as disobedience “displeases the Lord.” A mature Christian is able to hold these two truths in tension.
Because of David’s adultery and murder the sword never departed from his family. Remember, David was the man after God’s own heart. Hebrews 11 lists him as one of the heroes of faith. But the suffering that his sin unleashed in his family was off the charts.
Therefore, our text reads. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” This means children can either please or displease God. In each case there are profound consequences.
Negatively: Disobedience displeases the Lord. In scripture, rebellion against parental authority is exceedingly serious. As we have noted, it is always rebellion against God. Again, that is how God sees it. Listen to God’s Word on this subject.
(Ex 21:15) ““Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.”
(Ex 21:17) ““Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.”
(Dt 21:18-21) ” “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
(Dt 27:16) “Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”
(Pr 30:17) “The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.”
These texts are not in the Bible to motivate us to administer the death penalty to our children. They are in the Bible to impress us with the seriousness of these sins, and what they would receive if God were not slow to anger.
They are also here to impress us with the immensity of God’s love. In our place Jesus took the “death penalty” that we and our children deserve. We have all been stubborn and rebellious. Some of us have struck our parents. Some of us have even cursed our parents. All of us have failed to obey our parents or dishonored them. In God’s sight these sins are capital crimes. That is how serious they are. And here is the amazing truth. God is love. How do we know that? God sent his Son to come and take the death penalty in our place.
We will get serious about parenting to the degree that we see the horror of sin and the infinite nature of God’s love, mercy, and grace. We see both the horror of our sin and the love of God at the Cross.
Positively: God wants to Bless children Col 3:20 reads, “Children obey your parents in everything, for this please the Lord.” This means it also works the other way. God blesses the child that obeys its parents. Col 3:20 tell us that a child’s obedience “pleases the Lord.” In addition, Eph 6 reminds us thtat the fifth commandment is the first one with a promise, “That it may go well with you in the Land.”
Both the fifth commandment in Exodus and its repetition in Deuteronomy have a promise attached—first, “a long life” and a life that “goes well with them in the land.” (When the Ten Commandments were given the Jewish people knew little of Heaven or eternal life. The rewards were confined to this life).
So brothers and sisters, in light of the cross, lets get serious about parenting. Lets do it because we love our children, and because we are passionate about the glory of God.