No month is more significant in the history of our country than February, even more so than the fourth of July. In February, the two important birthdates of the two statesmen-presidents occur: Washington and Lincoln. Thus we are reminded of our national heritage, as boys and girls, young men and women, who live in the United States. Such remembrance has its benefits to us.
But such remembrance is secondary to the memory of our spiritual roots. These roots go back in history, further than any one nation’s history. Our beginning is as children of God; and that beginning is in God’s eternal good pleasure, which is before the foundation of the world. That is how long that God has loved us. Eternally!
How do we know this? Is our walk and way of life in harmony with this noble, mighty history? Young people, who are sinners by nature, answer, “No, of course not.” But, is that all? Is this a mechanical confession, a confession made disinterestedly? Wait a moment; reflect on this. Reflection is helpful.
Take the subject of obedience to parents, for example. Take Paul’s words in the sixth chapter of Ephesians. He writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” How is this text lived? This is not all.
Paul goes on saying: “Honor 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.”
A few thoughts, in connection with these words, should be pointed out first. Note that Paul is not saying that the first commandment with a promise is the fifth, which is the basis for these words in Ephesians. Neither is he saying, in the second place, that obedience to parents results in a long life.
He is saying that obedience to parents is a foremost commandment. It is a word of God of primacy in Christian living; especially in connection with children’s habits of life. It is not amiss to notice that “children” in this text, “Children, obey your parents,” does not refer only to those in infancy and early childhood. Indeed, the “children” here refers to all children and young people living at home.
With these remarks made, it is profitable to listen to what Paul has to say about obedience to parents. He writes of three elements: it is righteousness; it is honor to parents: it is long life in the land of promise – heaven. Paul is teaching God-fearing children to be subject to parents, and to continue in subjection. It is a day by day, moment by moment, activity. Never may children cease from this holy and virtuous activity.
From early morning to bedtime, the struggle to be obedient goes on. It means obedience to parents in all the little things that make up the totality of living in the fear of the Lord. Obedience includes the wearing of the right clothes, the getting to meals on time at the table; the washing of soiled hands, the praying for blessing on the food to be eaten, and the offering up of the prayer of thanksgiving; and the paying of attention during Bible reading. While away from home, and at school, it means obedience in connection with life at school, to remember the “do’s” and “don’ts” that Mother and Dad prescribe; the little courtesies that make riding the school bus with fellow passengers and driver a pleasant one, day after day.
While in school, obedience to parents at home includes, for Christian young people, the proper disposition toward teachers and school administrators. The lessons to be learned, the work assigned, the rules during lunch and recess time; all these are areas where obedience is to be manifested in all walk.
After school is over and the return to home is complete, godly young people once again reveal their desire to continue to be in subjection in obedience. At home, besides the duties that are common to the home, are also the duties that look forward to life in the church. Then catechism, Sunday School lessons, memory verses, and young people’s society Bible outlines, are all to be diligently learned.
Nor is this area confined only to home, church and school. There are other areas. For that matter, all the spheres in which the Christian young person lives are spheres in which, providentially, God places him or her, whatever the case may be. As citizens, the laws of the land are to be observed. Ordinances of communities regarding road travel, safe driving speeds, hunting and game conservation, are but a few examples of where obedience to the God-ordained, legally-constituted authorities is proper.
Again, where and when young people work for daily employment is opportunity to live Paul’s exhortation. Therefore, no willful slacking, no dishonesty in production, no compliance with worldly labor union tactics, are the standards of conscientious Christian workers.
Situations could be multiplied. Obedience is the Christian virtue that applies to the sum total of young people’s living. Be obedient, and keep on being obedient, to parents and to all in authority, is the heart of what the apostle wrote.
We have a beautiful illustration of obedience in our Lord Jesus Christ. Luke the evangelist tells the church concerning Jesus: “And he went down with them (his parents), and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them” (Luke 2:51). In perfection, Jesus exemplified true obedience.
But are we like Jesus? No. He was the Son of God in human nature. We could never be like Him, as to His essence. We are creature. He is God in the flesh.
Further, we are not like Him spiritually. We always sin, especially in obedience. He is perfect in obedience. Young people (and adults too) are spiritually the image of the devil. His works we do, willingly. The Devil was, and is, a rebel. We are, too. Apart from Christ, we shall never love God’s commandments and precepts, especially obedience.
What is the way out? Isn’t Jesus our example? True, He is our example – and more than our example. He is our need. He is in fullness, what we are in emptiness. What we – and young people – need, is grace, the grace of obedience. We need to approach our Lord in humble prayer and supplication, for grace to walk in the way of obedience, since we cannot of ourselves. We are helpless to do this without Him.
For a godly walk in this virtue, it means that God, through the means used by the young people, of prayer and supplication, will work this grace in the heart and life of His children. When He does, then the joy of such a spiritual experience fills our hearts with thanksgiving. As boys and girls, thank God that we have not received as we deserve; thank Him that His eternal good pleasure is to deal with His own in sovereign and particular mercy, out of deepest love. In this consciousness, stir thyself unto obedience to parents and all in authority. Paul says of such obedience, that it is righteousness. So it is.