Obedience in All Things
Obedience: the state or fact of being obedient; doing what is ordered; submission (Webster’s New World Dictionary)
Who are we to obey?
Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1, KJV)
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)
We cannot say that this direct order is not intended for us. If we have a parent, then we are one of the “children” that these verses are talking about.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17, KJV)
Here, we are simply commanded to obey them that have rule over us. Not only are we to obey them, but we are to submit (or surrender) to them. According to this verse, our parents are held responsible for the way we act until we reach the age of accountability. They will have to stand before God and giving an account of how they have trained us, and how we responded! Will they be able to do so with joy, or with grief?
How are we to obey?
Many of us look at ourselves and feel good about being obedient. But are we really obedient?
Let’s look at Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 again. The word “Obey” in both of these texts is the same Greek word: hupakouo. It means, “To hear under, to listen attentively, to heed or conform to a command or authority.”
What are some ways that we can have proper obedience?
1. Obedience is an act of the heart, not the body. If our parents ask us to clear the table, we may outwardly obey and clear the table. But our attitude on the inside might be, “They’re so unfair! I have pages of homework to do, a book to read, and a report to write. I never have any time for myself!” Inwardly, we are rebelling, which is the complete opposite of obedience.
“It doesn’t matter what I think; just as long as I do it.” How many of us are guilty of this thought? True, our parents may not see our inward attitude, but God sees it! He measures inward obedience just as much as He measures outward obedience. He can see that we are not whole-heartedly obeying His command in Ephesians 6:1.
2. Obedience also includes doing our task the best we can. If we half-way do a job that our parents have asked us to do, are we really obeying them . . . to the best of our ability?
3. Obedience is more than just heeding what our parents say. Our parents have something called a will. Their will is basically their desire. My parents have never told me, “Do not buy alcohol.” However, I know that it is totally against their will for me to buy alcohol. If I buy alcohol, then I am disobeying my parents. Colossians 3:20 says, “Obey your parents in ALL things.” It does not say “Only obey your parents’ words.”
Another way to obey our parents’ will is to not try to “change their mind.” When Dad says, “No, you cannot go to Sara’s,” and we whine and beg and make promises until he says, “Alright, go!” we are disobeying his will.
“But he said ‘yes!’” we might argue. Perhaps he did, but it was not his will to say so. He just wanted to keep peace in the home.
Yet another way to obey our parents’ will is to do things without being told. We do not have to be told, “When the sink is full of dirty dishes, I want them placed in the dishwasher.” We can easily see that this is probably something that Mom would like us to do.
Why are we to obey?
Ephesians 6:1 simply tells us to obey, “for this is right.” Two verses later we read, “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Colossians 3:20 tells us to obey, “for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”
Hebrews 13:17 tells us to obey, “for they watch for your souls.”
To obey our parents is to obey God’s commands. It is also a step of preparation. When we get married, we are to obey and submit to our husband (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18). If we have practiced rebellion towards our parents, we will have difficulty submitting to our husband. Is this perhaps one of the reasons that divorce is so prevalent among couples today?
More important than preparing for marriage, obeying our parents is preparation for life. When we are no longer under our parents’ authority, we are accountable directly to God. If we have not learned to obey those whom we can see and hear, how can we obey God, Whom we cannot physically see and hear?
There are many examples in the Bible of those who did not obey the Lord, and the consequences were great. In one instance, the prophet Samuel said, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22b)
It is my prayer that all of us can learn to have complete obedience to our parents, our future husbands, and our Lord.