Summary: Biblical keys to the all-important, God-given relationships between parents and children.


ACT III: The Supreme Mystery In Action



Just before the Easter season, our study on the revealing of “the Mystery of the Church” as presented in Ephesians, turned to the practical issue of our relationships. We reaffirmed that:

Relationships are EVERYTHING!

Of all our relationships by far the most important is first, our relationship with Jesus, second is our relationship with our family, and third others with whom we must regularly interact (e.g. fellow church members, colleagues,and neighbors).

Last time we talked about establishing and maintaining a God-honoring, healthy and fabulously wonderful relationship between husband and wife. This morning, we will see that the same principle of love and submission under Jesus applies in ALL of our relationships if we are to honor Christ in them! First, between husband and wife. Then, between children and parents.



Intro: Don’t be shocked, but it’s true that so far in my young life I have been both a child and a parent. I spent my childhood wishing I could be a parent, since (I thought) they have it so much easier, all that endless money and, of course, I would never make all the mistakes I saw parents (especially my own) make then. Now, I’m a parent. I still sleep like a baby – zzzzz, waaaaaaaa, zzzzz, waaaaaa – unconscious from fatigue, startled awake by worry and distress, repeat. Now, I’m tempted to dream about what it would be like to just be a child again. Then, I remember how it really felt at times when I was a child and I’m not so sure anymore.

I’ve come to the conclusion that BOTH being a child AND being a parent can but does not always have to be a very challenging, difficult and confusing life. Nevertheless, children have no choice and parents – well, as Bruce Lansky stated, “Parenthood is a lot easier to get into than out of”!

So, what do we all do? How do we make lemonade out of the lemons in our relational lives? Whether children, parents, or both the wisest and best thing we can do and learn and follow the wisdom of God!!! We ALL need help! As Lord Rochester once said, “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children. Now I have six children and no theories.”


Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight. In the Greek in which this text was written there were two distinguishing words for children. One was used to refer specifically to young children. The other was used to refer to ALL children (0-99) who live under their parent’s roof. Guess which word Paul is using in this passage? They say that these days there are two types of parents with adult children – those who don’t know what an “empty nest” is, and those who changed their locks!

1.Obey (v. 1)

- Say what? That’s the last thing I want to do! Why I should I obey?

- “because this is right” It is a natural law (every society) and most importantly a divine law!

- But How? I mean, you don’t know MY parents?

- “in the Lord” That is, be sure to obey your parents in all things which are consistent with

Christ and His Word! IF, on the other hand, your parent demands something which is

contrary to the Lord and His Word you are not bound to obey. To obey your parents is to

obey Jesus. To disobey your parents, except if they ask of you something offensive to the

Lord, is to disobey Jesus.

2.Honor (v. 2)

- Still, our relationship to our parents is to be about far more than simple or obligatory

obedience. We are to obey them so that we may honor them, and we honor them by how we


- As R. Kent Hughes writes: “The call to honor our parents goes beyond mere outward

obedience. To honor our parents means to love them, to regard them highly, to show them

respect and consideration. While we may outgrow the call to obey our parents, we never

outgrow the obligation to honor them.”

3.Reap (v. 3)

- Of the ten commandments, all of the others promise what will follow if they are NOT kept.

But, with this one, we are given a wonderful promise of what will happen if we DO keep it!

- Why is honoring our parents promised as a key to a long life?

- By honoring our parents in the Lord, we will regularly be warned from harm’s way,

discouraged from developing or maintaining bad habits or friends, and much more likely to

learn and develop healthy and godly character that provides guidance and strength throughout

our lives!

When we behave as children according to God’s Holy and Perfect Word we will reap long, healthy and happy lives rather than reap a lifetime of tears, misery and regret!

B. GOD’S WORD FOR PARENTS (especially Fathers)

Our turn! What does it take to be an effective, God-honoring parent who has the best chance of raising children who will be healthy, productive and God-honoring. BTW: notice I said “the best chance.” This is NOT a guarantee! Our children still must make their own choices and will be held individually accountable for them. We, as parents, will be held accountable by God NOT for how perfect they do or don’t turn out, but to what degree have we and are we doing everything at our disposable (including relying on the Holy Spirit and Bible) to love and raise our children God’s Way?!

What’s more, as we will see in the Bible, God’s wisdom can be summarized in two commands – one ’negative’ (what NOT to do) and one ’positive’ (what TO do)!

1.Do not Aggravate (v. 4a)

- I gotta confess, I have a very strong love-hate relationship with this spiritual truth! I love applying it to others – esp. my own father, but boy do I hate when others (esp. my wife) want me to apply it to my children! In case you haven’t noticed, I can tend to be, ohhhh, direct, emotional, maybe once in a ’blue moon’ I mean even get crabby or allow some of that Jersey-bred sarcasm to boil out.

- But, you know what. I am glad my wife loves me and our children enough to remind me and (don’t tell her I said this), but hope she continues to as often as necessary! You know why? Because I love my children more than I love my prideful comfort or right to be crabby! I love my wife more than I love believing I’m always right. And, I love my Savior more than I love the occasional rebellious outburst!

- How, then, do we improperly “aggravate,” “provoke” or “stir up” our children:

a.) Unreasonableness

b.) Fault-finding

c.) Neglect

d.) Inconsistency

- Now, what CAN and SHOULD we be doing?

2.Do Disciple after Jesus

- I’m not a pastor, theologian or Bible teacher. How can I disciple my children? What does it

even mean? Look like?

a.) Nourish

- The phrase “bring them up” literally means “to feed” or “nourish.” It is much more than a

simple euphemism! What must tenderly yet firmly be sure to provide raise them with all

of the ’nutrients’ they need to grow full, strong and healthy in this filthy world.

b.) Train

- Whenever the see this word in the Bible I want you to picture a physical or athletic trainer

or therapist. You know they one who always greets you with unbounded joy and

enthusiasm, then proceeds to tell you what is and isn’t good for you, what you can’t do

and what you MUST do and then, with a big smile on his or her face proclaims: “Hey, no

pain no gain!” The one who hugs you and disciplines you with equal vigor.

- You know the biggest problem about parenting according to the American culture? It’s

that the so-called ’wisdom’ of our culture tells us that the best parent is the ’coolest’ parent.

This isn’t even a new problem. King Edward VII once quipped, “The thing that impresses

me most about America is the way parents obey their children.” Btw, that wasn’t meant as

a compliment!

- But, Pastor, you don’t know MY children! If I parent them you the Bible says, they’ll just

rebel more and listen less. Folks, the Ringling Bros. are coming to town in two weeks. If

you get there an hour before the circus starts, they’ll let you wander around the rings.

Would anyone like to try to prove God wrong by slithering between the bars of the tigers’

cage because you believe you can tame them like a kitten simply by applying a few gentle

strokes while coo-ing softly? I didn’t think so. So why are you so convinced it’ll work on

a toddler? . . . or a teenager . . . young adult who has yet to mature?

- But, of course, as any good trainer knows, there must ALSO be much more

encouragement and reward for what is learned and applied well! Or, sometimes, even just

for the genuine effort!

- As Martin Luther was known for saying: “Spare the rod and spoil the child – that is true.

But beside the rod keep an apple to give him when he has done well.”

c.) Teach

- Instruction! No parent can assume their children will or should know right from wrong,

Jesus from Judas, unless YOU have taught it to them and consistently lived it before them!

d.) “of the Lord”

- The things in which we are commanded to nourish, train and teach our children, that they

may prosper and live long, are the things “of the Lord.”

- WHO, does the Bible say is responsible for this? Parents!

- Friends, do YOU personally teach your children about Jesus and His Word or do you

simply take them to someplace or someone else who will? Have often is each true? Do

you live the teaching before them?


Children, honor your parents as you seek to honor the Lord. Trust in their love even when you don’t see or feel it. Trust in their rules and advice, even if they sound unnecessary, unfair or just plain crazy! Even if they’re not always right, trust that they have the experience and spiritual discernment to know better than you. It really IS for your best!

Parents, don’t just ’provide’ for your children. Don’t just ’raise’ them. DISCIPLE THEM. Don’t follow the world. Follow CHRIST. Then, maybe your children will too!

Everyone, consider this final encouragement from the pen of the late James Montgomery Boice: “It is hard for children to learn to obey their parents. It is hard for parents to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. But difficult is not impossible, and by the grace of God Christian parents and children have been managing just those difficulties for centuries. They can manage it in our own time too.”