The other morning as I was biking to church I listened to this message from John Piper called, “He Must Manage His Household Well“. The excerpt below served to crush me in dependence as a pastor and a father.
Here is something very important for children and parents, especially fathers. In the ten commandments (Exodus 20:12) the fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and mother.” Don’t treat them or talk about them in a way that makes them look foolish. Don’t talk back to them as though they were just another kid.
Instead, the Bible says (Ephesians 6:1), “Children obey your parents.” Do what they say. Don’t lie to them. Next to God the instruction of your parents is the most sacred and important thing in your life. Treat them with great respect. The Bible promises that things will go far better for you if your do.
So on the one hand the Bible says that children are responsible to honor and obey their parents. If they don’t there will be trouble, and if they do there will be reward. Children are addressed and children are responsible for their submissiveness and respect.
But on the other hand our text says that fathers are responsible for the behavior of their children. (1 Tim. 3:4) “He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way.” If he succeeds he will be judged more fit for church leadership, and if he fails, he will be judged unfit for church leadership. The father’s are addressed and the fathers are responsible for the children’s submissiveness and respect.
How are we to put these two things together: that the children are responsible to obey, and that the fathers are responsible to have obedient children? I’m not sure what the answer is. I’ve tried to think it through, but I can’t see it clearly yet.
So in respect to the Scripture I am simply going to let the two truths stand, and urge you to take them very seriously. Children are responsible before God to honor, and obey and respect and be submissive to their parents. And parentsÂ—especially fathersÂ—are responsible to have honoring, obedient, respectful and submissive children.
Very practically what this means is that if one of my four sons were to ever rebel against me and become totally insubordinate and defiant and became delinquent or criminal, he would be responsible. He would have to reckon with the judgment of God, and with the inevitable consequences of conscience and social stigma and legal repercussions. He is accountable.
But that would not be the whole story. The text teaches that I am responsible for my son’s submissiveness and respect. I am responsible that they be obedient. If one of them rebels against what I teach and becomes insubordinate and defiant and delinquent, I too would be held accountable. I would have to reckon with God’s discipline and with the consequences for my own ministry, which could be interrupted or even ended.
So the impression I want to leave you with this morningÂ—especially you fathersÂ—is that being responsible parents is a serious business. Far more serious than most of us think. When we see ourselves as responsible for our children’s submissiveness and respect as 1 Timothy 3:4-5 says we are, our response should be to go to some private corner of the house and fall on our knees before God and cry for the salvation of our children and for their protection from the Satan and their perseverance in faith and obedience to the end of their days.
BTW – he also has an extended parenthetical comment about singleness that I found to also be very enlightening. The link above will take you to the full manuscript.
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