Yes or no? That’s the question! Should we obey or disobey? Should we sacrifice independence for our parents’ wishes? Can we grow up while our parents are “being parents”? Since obedience goes hand-in-hand with discipline, let’s begin there:
What’s so great about discipline?
It’s evidence that our parents love us and are obedient to God! Your parents practice discipline because, out of their love for you and for God, they’re fulfilling their duty to guide you in the way that God desires. There’s purpose in that, and Proverbs 22:6 confirms it: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Imagine for instance that you’re given a special ball that plays a meaningful roll in a game. The game’s object is to roll the ball away from you, directing it so it will not fall into any holes along the way. You roll it in the right direction, but it has a mind of its own and goes where you didn’t set it off to—towards a hole! Wouldn’t you chase after it, to correct its course? Or stop it before it fell into the hole? That’s like discipline. It’s significant for all our lives!
Proverbs 13:24 vibrantly pictures this act of love: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Think about that! It’s a big job our parents have been given to undertake, but as Proverbs 1:8-9 tells us, we shouldn’t forsake our parent’s teaching and instruction because it’s like a graceful garland around our head and pendants for our neck.
So what of obedience?
Obedience is acknowledging and walking in the benefits of a purposeful command. Children obey because, out of their love for God and their parents, they’re fulfilling their duty to yield to guidance. Think of guidance as a shepherd caring for his sheep. Even when we don’t understand our trustworthy shepherd, the benefits of obeying are still there! With all the “holes in the ground,” guidance is imperative.
Discipline is evidence that our parents love us and are obedient to God.
The point is, we’re a dependent creation, in need of a sustainer. That sustainer is God. Psalm 54:4 proclaims, “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” From pouring your cereal in the morning to being in existence, God holds you in the palm of His loving hands. A parent’s task to shepherd is similar to how and why God shepherds—to guide you rightly. It’s your opportunity to say yes to such sustenance!
No matter what age you become, you’ll always be your parents’ child. That doesn’t mean you’re not free to grow up. You are shepherded so that you can grow up, and continue to grow in the Lord. For sure, parents can make mistakes. People become parents, and people aren’t like God. But obeying Biblically based guidance is what God wants you to learn, because that’s what life’s about! “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps,” says Proverbs 16:9.
So obedience and discipline are both right and good for their own purposes. In addition, we’re created to be shepherded, so independence is rather kaput. Proverbs 1:7 teaches, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And Psalm 19:8 says, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” So it’s knowledgeable to say “yes I’ll obey”, but it also satisfies the willing heart!