Summary: God is keenly interested in children and in family life. God wants the family to be the true laboratory of life, where family members ... regardless of age ... live, learn, love and grow in the Christian graces.
The photo that was flashed across the country told the heartbreaking story of an American tragedy. A weary fireman held the limp, lifeless body of a little child. The little girl was killed in the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Her name was Baylee Almon, and she was only one year old. When the bomb exploded, she was with her playmates in the Child Care Center. The blast was so powerful it created a crater thirty feet in diameter.
This little child and so many others never had a chance. Her grieving mother, choked with tears, tried to speak, but the words were few and difficult.
You would think that even the most callous adult would be touched by the death of a child. It all seems so unfair when tragedy claims a child.
We see clearly God’s concern for children and families in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In that part of the letter known as the domestic code or household code (5:21-6:9), Paul gives specific instructions to children and to parents in 6:1-4. In doing so, he voices God’s affirmation of the family ... children as well as parents.
Make no mistake about it. God is keenly interested in children and in family life. God wants the family to be the true laboratory of life, where family members ... regardless of age ... live, learn, love and grow in the Christian graces.
For this to occur, we need to focus our attention on two primary relationships.
Children’s Commitment to Parents
Context of Paul’s statement: family
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord..." (6:1)
This very first sentence in the instructions to children and parents provides the context for Paul’s exhortation. "Children" and "parents" spell family. Paul is not addressing the church, the public school, or the private school. Rather, he directs his teaching to the home. The home is the primary area where key relationships are born and nurtured.
I often get the impression that some parents send their children to church or school simply to get rid of them. Not only do parents expect to have peace and quiet during this "release time," but they further expect the church and school to compensate for their own parental neglect in helping their children to grow.
I would venture to say that some of the strongest advocates of school prayer probably don’t promote and practice prayer in their home. If they did, they would realize that prayer is deeply personal and that you can pray silently at any time and any place without requiring a constitutional prayer amendment.
One student said,
"As long as we have final exams, we will always have prayer in school.
Focus on both parents
Paul does not limit his words in this passage to the father only. For those who feel that the male is the only spiritual leader in the family, hear what Paul is saying. He speaks of "parents" meaning mother and father (6:1). Both parents must assume responsibility for spiritual nurture of the children. One parent can do his or her best for the child and try to make up for the other’s lack, but one parent cannot provide all the child’s needs. Only joint cooperation and participation can adequately meet the demands of family life.
Children’s response to parents
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother" (6:1-2).
Children are commanded to obey and honor their parents (both words are imperatives).
The word translated "obey" literally means to hear under. It carries the meaning of to listen or to submit to. Children are instructed to listen to their parents. Why? Because parents are older and wiser and can help children avoid pitfalls along the way. Listening means more than learning words that parents speak. It means following their counsel and wisdom, heeding their advice.
One of the worst memories I have of a spanking did not even involve me. Now don’t be mistaken, I have very vivid memories of being spanked, and paddled, by my father, mother and various and sundry coaches and principles. But one of the worst I remember was when I was a small child. My older brother had stayed out long past dark. We were probably in the second or third grade. That night when my brother showed up, my dad did not spank him. He told him how worried they had been because he did not come in. He told him that every time they heard a siren, they were concerned that he might have been hurt and they were frantic because they didn’t know where he was. He told my brother that every time he heard a siren, my brother would get a spanking. We had just sat down to dinner that night when a siren went off. My dad grabbed his belt, his marine belt ... I never wanted to have anything to do with the marines because every time they were mentioned it was in relation to my dad’s belt. At any rate, he grabbed my brother and hauled him into the next room. We could hear that belt, we could hear my brother yelling, we could hear my dad yelling, mother and I were both crying. That may have been the only time in my life that I did not want to finish eating.