extreme makeover: home edition

Most parents agree that they desire to have a happy house with children who are successful, financially responsible, skillful, educated, athletic and active. These are not wrong desires, but they could also distract you from God’s agenda for your home. What is God’s agenda for the home? God desires for parents to raise their children in such a way that they will lovingly, joyfully, passionately, and freely follow Jesus Christ. This is the greatest agenda for parents. God’s agenda for children is also similar: to obey their God-given authority and make Jesus Christ the passion of their life.

In Ephesians 6:1-4, God sets a clear agenda for the home, which is a wonderful picture of His gospel. Let’s look at the basis, goal and technique for living as God’s kind of home.

The Basis of a Godly Home is Obedience [Ephesians 6:1]

I did not grow up singing the famous children’s Sunday School songs, but one I do know is, “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe: Doing exactly what the Lord commands, doing it happily. Action is the key–do it immediately, the joy you will receive! Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E (Yes, sir!) Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” I am sure that was a fun song to sing as a kid and there is a lot of truth to this song, but as a child grows older that some might mean something entirely different. Obedience is a willingness to submit to ones authority without challenge, excuse or delay.

How should I discipline children of different ages?

For many children, following God’s agenda is difficult because they want what they want, when they want it, in the way they want it. Therefore, children test boundaries, push limits, and stress the consistency of their parents. Is this really the agenda of cute innocent children? Surely I just have a pessimistic view of children? No. I just believe what the Bible says, everyone child is born a sinner into a sinful world and sinning comes natural.

Why is it important for children to obey their parents? Obedience teaches children how to live under authority, especially God’s authority [5:21]. Authority is like an umbrella of protection for our good and God’s glory. In ancient days, the father could maintain authority in the home until death. When do you cease being a child? You never cease being a child to your parents. “Child” does not denote age, but relationship. Even as an adult you are still your parents children. However, as you grow older your relationship with your parents may morph [cf. 2:24] because biblically parenting is a temporary stewardship preparing you for your own permanent relationship of marriage.

The Goal of a Godly Home is Honor [Ephesians 6:2-3]

What does it mean to honor? Honor means you have an attitude of godly fear towards your parents because you know they have been give to you by a higher authority—God [cf. Leviticus 19:3, 14; Deuteronomy 4:10]. When you obey your parents it is a way of honoring them. Can you obey without honoring? Yes, this is called legalism. Follow rules, but not following lovingly and joyfully isn’t honor. This might run in tandem with our culture that says that ‘honor is earned’; rather God says honor no matter what because God particularly places your parents as your authority.

Paul begins this verse by quoting the 5th Commandment. [Exodus 21:12] He also notes that this is the first commandment with a promise in relation to other humans. What is the promise? The promise is that if you honor your parents you are also honoring God; therefore, God will bless you with an enjoyable life.

Exodus 20:12 Deuteronomy 5:16 Ephesians 6:1-3 Colossians 3:20
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 20Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Should you honor your parents if they are not believers or spiritually mature? Even if your parents do not have a biblical perspective of life you are still called to honor and obey them. Now if your parents specifically ask you to do something sinful you are called obey God who is your higher authority. If your parents abuse their authority it is proper to remove yourself from their authority until they makeover their home to match God kind of parent.

What are there benefits or drawbacks to obeying your parents? There are times when obedience might prevent you from doing something you really would like to do. This is not always a bad thing. I remember asking my parents if I could spend the night at a friend’s house from school. They denied the request because they knew that this friend was not a good influence on me. I was upset, but after the fact I was appreciative my parents were protecting me. In the future, my honor for my parents grew and it was easier to obey.

Here are some practical ways you can honor your parents: Do not talk back to your parents privately or publicly. Do not complain about your parents to others. Protect the integrity of your family. Listen to their wise counsel. Seek their wise counsel for decisions. Do not repeat their sinful habits. If you disagree do not argue in defense.

The Technique for have a Godly Home is Training in Truth [Ephesians 6:4]

In verse 4, fathers are singled out. Why are father’s singles out? As children obey, fathers are not to neglect their responsibility of point their children to Christ. Every father is accountable to God for the spiritual climate of his home [1 Timothy 3:4-5].[1] This climate can be controlled as the father teaches and consistently models Christlikeness to his children.

How does a parent provoke his children to wrath?

Training children is like giving them spiritual nourishment that will help them grow spiritually strong so that when they are on their own Satan will not have an influence on them. The greatest device the devil uses to cause division in the home is prolonged anger of the children towards their parents. Parents can feed this anger by not following Christ [cf. Colossians 3:20-21].

Training in Truth focuses on the gospel: the child’s need of a Savior [Romans 6:23] because they are accountable to God [Dt.4:9; 6:6-7]. This child must be taught about their sinful heart [Rom.5:12; Prov. 22:15]. Following salvation, parents have an enormous task of teaching their children to follow God’s Word [Ps.1:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:15-17], repent, restore and mature in Christlikeness [Ephesians 4:22-32]. This is how the child comes face-to-face with the gospel.

If you desire to have a happy house, with children who are successful, financial fiscal, skillful, educated and active above God’s agenda for your home you might be raising children who worship these agendas because they have a  distorted understanding of the gospel. Unless the gospel is central in the child all other agendas can become idols. God’s desire for parents is to raise their children in such a way that they will lovingly, joyfully, passionately, and freely follow Jesus Christ. This is the greatest agenda for parents. And God’s desire for children is to obey their God-given authority and make Jesus Christ the passion of their life. The gospel means God is always at the center of the family, not the child or parent.

Great Resources for Parents:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart [Tedd Tripp]

Gospel-Powered Parenting [William P. Farley]

Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens [Paul David Tripp]

Angry Children—Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control [Mike Emlet]

Addressing the Problems of Rebellious Children [Mary Somerville]


[1] Fathers responsibility: Psalm 103:13; Matthew 7:9-11; Proverbs 3:11-12; Psalm 72:2-8; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Hebrews 12:7-11

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The key to having a good relationship with others people (parents), is to have your foundation built on God. God is about to transition the commandments from a vertical (God) focus to a horizontal (man) focus. The relationship that God focuses on is the parent-child relationship. This foundation relationship affects most if not all your other relationships.

The Fifth Commandment: “Honor your parents.” (Exodus 20:12). In other words we are to respect them with out words and ways. We are to we honor them with our attitudes and actions. We are to behave in a way that would reflect on our love for God.

To understand this command we have to know what honor means. Honor means to take them seriously even though they are not perfect. To hold them up as the God-given authorities in your life.

To be honest, I had a difficult time honoring my parents as a child. I didn’t get too many golden stars or badges of honor for the way I acted or talked with them. I have since sought to reconcile this by putting on the 5 Badges for Honoring your Parents: (*****)

1. Love. Love is more than words, “I love you.” Love is active, I love you there for I will show you. Love is motivated to do something lovely. Imagine if Jesus saw our condition and just said, “I love you,” but didn’t do anything about it. Rather His love for you motivated Him to act as a Savior for your sins. Your relationship with your parents is just the same, you need to be actively loving. You cannot wait for them to take the first step, you are to initiate it (love is not conditional: I do love if you love me first).

2. Forgiveness. This is a tough one. Everyone has different issues at home, and even though I don’t know what you go through at home or what your parents are like (abused, abandoned, alcohol, anger, etc). The odds are against you to be a forgiver if your parents are not good or godly.

Truthfully, those who have godly parents have an easier time keeping this 5th Command. I didn’t have perfect godly Christians parents and I know how hard it is to honor parents when words fly, tempers flair, and the circumstances seem unreasonable or abnormal. Yet Jesus knows what we are going through. He has been there. His closest friends bailed on Him when He needed them the most. People beat Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, cursed Him, abused and tortured Him. Since He has been there too you can take your problems and pains to Him (God knows your parents and your situation very well, and they will get their just punishment; Lk.17:1-2).

If you harbor unforgiveness towards your parents you are giving a foothold to the devil (Eph.4:27). He is a little a skilled rock-climber. You give him one toehold, he’s hanging on and you cant shake him off. Does Satan own real-estate in your life because of unforgiveness you have towards your parents? If yes, then it’s time to apologize to your parents and not expect anything in return. Forgiveness releases the bonds of bitterness and frees you to love your parents.

3. Unity. God has a chain of command in our lives. Respect your authorities and live in peace with them. God put imperfect parents (employers, pastors, coaches, teachers) into your life for His purpose, to help you grow into the image of God. Unity begins with your heart (love and forgiveness). Unity doesn’t mean you allow authorities to walk all over you, but that you honor them as your authority.

There is a lack of respect for authority in our culture today. Negative dinner table talks about bad bosses, parents and political leaders teaches a child that it is okay to ‘dis’ authority. Help your parents to honor authorities in their lives too.

4. Value. You were born dependent upon your parents. You needed them to grow. They feed you, clothed you, changed all your dirty-stinky diapers, cleaned your messed and more. As we grow we become more independent. Yet as your parents grow them become more dependent upon you to care for them. We are to value them at every stage of our lives and theirs. To honor them is to value their place in their lives. Be careful of speaking negatively about them to others, joking about them or rejecting them. Value their insights on live and their experiences of ‘been there and done that.’

5. Encourage. Show and share with your parents you love, admiration and appreciation. Even though they may not be perfect or polluted with sin God has placed them in your life. Encourage them to love and follow after God. Appreciate them all the days of your life.

A day might come when you will get that dreaded call, “It’s your dad, he…” or “I’m sorry but your mom…” In this moment you have a choice: to hang your head in shame because you didn’t honor your parents or hold your head high with joy because you honored them.

Honoring your imperfect parents is just as honorable as honoring your perfect God. Wear your badges proudly to love, forgive, unify, value and appreciate your parents. These are the rock-solid foundations for godly relationships.