Have you ever caught yourself saying “Because I’m the parent and I said so” to your kids? If you haven’t yet, you probably will at least once before your kids reach adulthood. There is actually value to teaching your kids to obey for the sake of obeying, especially when they are young. Having children who will immediately comply with your commands can literally save their lives.
In some ways, God too expects us to obey because “He is God and He said so”. The great thing about God though is that He really wants us to understand His incredible love for us. He wants us to realize His commands are in our best interest. He wants us to realize obeying His commands is not just about obeying God, but because it will also give us the best possible life in this fallen world.
Your kids especially need to understand why God gave us some of His commands. Sometimes the scriptures tell us exactly why God wants us to do something. Think about when the Israelites wanted a king. God made sure they understood that even though he would grant their request, putting a person in a position with that much authority would cause many problems. God even made sure Samuel listed all of the future problems the people would have because they had chosen a king to be their ruler instead of God. A quick look at history after that will quickly confirm all of those problems happened and still happen today with earthly rulers.
At other times, God uses the lives of other people to demonstrate the problems that occur when we disobey His commands. If the story of David and Bathsheba isn’t a cautionary tale about adultery, I don’t know what is. God may not strike us dead when we lie, but the fact that he did strike Ananias and Sapphira dead when they lied, gives us a pretty strong hint that God is not a fan of even half-truths.
Teaching your children the principles and stories behind God’s commands will help them understand the positive consequences for obeying God and the negative ones that can result from disobeying Him. Hopefully as you discuss these verses and stories, your children will begin to see the layer of protection God’s commands give them.
There is another benefit for sharing the reasons behind God’s commands with your kids. A study was done where people interrupted someone using a copier and asked if they could jump ahead and do their job first. For almost half of the people, the answer was “no”. When, however, the person requesting to jump ahead to use the copier gave a reason – even a ridiculous one – 94% of the people agreed.
What if explaining some of God’s reasons for His commands to your kids, made them more likely to comply to His requests for their obedience? Kids who will reject a rule merely because it is a rule, may reconsider if they realize there are actually very valid reasons for God’s commands.
For many of God’s commands, we can give examples from the Bible and our own experience why they are important. Others, we may be unable to find strong examples in the Bible and don’t really understand them ourselves. At times, you may have to explain to your children that sometimes we just have to trust God and that He has our best interests at heart. During those times, we need to obey God’s command because he is God and He commanded us to do that particular thing – even if it makes no sense to us. Naaman learned that very important lesson!
Taking some time to explain the benefits of obedience and the consequences of disobedience to God’s commands, may just make your kids more willing to obey God. Even if they continue to make ungodly choices, perhaps experiencing some of those consequences they were warned would occur may remind them God really does know what is best for them.