This is a goal which is worth any amount of effort to attain. No habit, I believe, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you, though it may cost you a lot of trouble, and cost them many tears. Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying. When you give them a command, let them clearly see that you expect them to do it.
Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith manifest. It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord’s people. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” [John 15:14] It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they do whatever their parents command them. Where, in fact, is the honor which the fifth commandment directs, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully, willingly, and at once?
Early obedience has all Scripture on its side. It was Abraham who said, that he will not only train his family, but “that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just.” [Genesis 18:19 It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that when He was young, He was obedient to Mary and Joseph. [Luke 2:51] Observe how implicitly Joseph obeyed the order of his father Jacob in Genesis 37:13. See how Isaiah speaks of disobedience as an evil thing, when he says, “the young will rise up against the old.” [Isaiah 3:5] Note how the Apostle Paul names disobedience to parents as one of the terrible sins of the last days. [2 Timothy 3:2] Note how he singles out the obedience of children as one of the requirements of a Christian minister, saying, “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” [1 Timothy 3:4] And again that, “a deacon must manage his children and his household well.” [1 Timothy 3:12] And again, an elder must be “a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” [Titus 1:6]
Parents, do you want to see your children happy? Be careful, then, that you train them to obey when they are spoken to—to do as they are told. Believe me, we are not made to be entirely independent—we are not fit for it. Even those whom Christ has set free have a yoke to wear, they “are serving the Lord Christ.” [Colossians 3:24] Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in which not everyone was intended to rule, and that we are never in our right place until we know how to obey those over us. Teach them to obey while they are young, or else they will be protesting against God all their lives, and wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.
My friends, what I suggest to you is greatly needed. You will see many in this day who allow their children to choose and think for themselves long before they are able, and even make excuses for their disobedience, as if they were not to be blamed for it. In my eyes, a parent who is always yielding, and a child who always has its own way, are a most painful sight—painful, because I see God’s appointed order of things inverted and turned upside down—painful, because I feel sure the consequence to that child’s character in the end will be self-will, pride, and conceit. Is it any wonder that men refuse to obey their Father who is in heaven, if you allow them, when children, to disobey their father who is on earth.
Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes.