We have been told in Ephesians about the importance of the Christian's relationship with others. Last week, we looked at the relationship of husbands and wives. Today, we will see more defined for us.
This was the first memory verse I can remember imposing upon our children. I can recall each time one of them was disobedient, they would be standing there, either receiving a lecture or anticipating punishment, and reciting,
Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Why should children obey their parents? Because it's right. It's the right thing for Christian children to do.
And as time progresses, we're seeing less and less obedience to parents. In public places, I have seen elementary-school-age children blatantly tell their parents, "No!" when given a command. I have seen children scream at their fathers, kick the shins of their mothers, and demand their own way. I cannot imagine this happening back in the days of "Little House On The Prairie." But the Bible has warned us that it would happen. Paul told Timothy that in the last days, people would be...
2Tim. 3:2-4 ...lovers of self ... revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful ... unloving, irreconcilable ... without self-control ... reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
Christian children should obey their parents because it is the right thing to do in the Lord. They shouldn't need any other reason.
And we as parents must be very aware of our children if they're demonstrating love for pleasure more than God. Fair, consistent, and loving discipline is the biblical mandate we've been given if we want to see our children grow to be godly people.
Prov. 19:18 Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.
Paul is quoting from the ten commandments, "Honor your father and your mother." In Hebrew, the Lord used the word "kaw-BAD," which is "to give weight to." But he is speaking to the Ephesians in Greek, and chooses to use the word "tim-AH-o," which literally means "to estimate their value as precious."
You might think that these two verses are just continuations of the previous one. That we are only talking about those who are under 18 having to honor their fathers and mothers. But there are many people over 18 that have issues with their parents. Maybe you haven't spoken to one or both of your parents in awhile. Maybe there are strained relationships, or you're just not esteeming them as you should.
Think about your mom and dad. Have you fixed their value as precious? What are they worth to you? I consider my mother and father to be precious. They are among the most intelligent people I have ever met. I respect them as human beings and treasure them as friends.
Not everyone here can say that about their mom and dad. But whoever your parents were or are, whatever mistakes they made raising you, difficulties they created for you, or however they failed to give you the love you needed, the command is to fix their value as precious and priceless.
And unless you do, things will not be well with you. You may not even live long on the earth. Job said that the bitter of soul long for death (Job 3:20-21), and that is true, whether you're aware of it or not. Today is the day to begin to esteem your mom and dad as precious. This is the hour to repent for unforgiveness. Now is the time to let go of the years of hurt and anger.
As a father, I have read this verse many times. I must confess that when my children were young, it confused me greatly. After all, if I refused to grant their request for something like ice cream or a toy, they sometimes got angry. Was I provoking them to wrath? Certainly that wasn't what Paul was saying. I read many commentaries, which ranged in interpretation and application.
Then one day while studying the Scriptures, it struck me. Paul interpreted this for us! The word "but" (or "instead" as the NIV has rendered it), tells us that the opposite is also being presented.
Eph. 6:4 ...but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
How do you provoke your children to wrath? By bringing them up with ungodly discipline and ungodly instruction.
Those children whose fathers punish them out of anger, unfairly, brutally, or arbitrarily will be provoked to wrath.
The word "instruction" there literally means "to place in the mind or understanding." Those children whose fathers put ungodly principles into their children's minds are being provoked to wrath.
Dads, are you disciplining and instructing your children in a godly way? What needs to change in your home and in your relationship?
We recently looked in detail at this very thing in our study of Colossians 3:22-4:1, and I recommend you pick up the tape or read the notes on the internet. But some additional points are being brought out here in Ephesians that would benefit us to look at them.
When Paul tells slaves to obey their masters, he doesn't allow for the begrudging kind of obedience. He says that the obedience is to be...
Eph. 6:5 ...in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;
There have been many times at various jobs when I have been guilty of obeying on the outside, but rebelling on the inside. That is not sincerity of heart.
He also says that our obedience is not to be by way of eye-service. This means service that is only performed under the master's eye. It is the "Eddie Haskell syndrome" - when the parents are around, it's, "Hello Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver. My, young Theodore is growing up to be a wonderful boy." But when the parents are gone, it's, "Get out of my way, Squirt!" We should never be this way in service to our employers, since Christ is really your boss and is always watching.
In a nutshell, if you are a child, parent, boss, or employee, God is calling you to be godly. May all of your thoughts and deeds be glorifying to Him, whether at home or at work.