Summary: 53rd in a series from Ephesians. Honoring our parents helps build a legacy for future generations of Christ-followers.
A man bought a donkey from a preacher. The preacher told the man that this donkey had been trained in a very unique way (being the donkey of a preacher). The only way to make the donkey go was to say, "Hallelujah!" The only way to make the donkey stop was to say, "Amen!"
The man was pleased with his purchase and immediately got on the animal to try out the preacher’s instructions. "Hallelujah!" shouted the man. The donkey began to trot. "Amen!" shouted the man. The donkey stopped immediately. "This is great!" said the man. With a "Hallelujah" he rode off, very proud of his new purchase.
The man traveled for a long time through the mountains. As he headed towards a cliff, he tried to remember the word to make the donkey stop. "Stop," said the man. "Halt!" he cried. The donkey just kept going. "Oh, no..."
"Bible...Church!...Please! Stop!!" shouted the man. The donkey just began to trot faster. He was getting closer and closer to the edge of the cliff.
Finally, in desperation, the man said a prayer: "Please, dear Lord. Please make this donkey stop before I go off the end of this mountain. In Jesus’ name, AMEN." The donkey came to an abrupt stop just one step from the edge of the cliff.
"HALLELUJAH!" shouted the man.
I guess the moral of that story is that it’s not always a good thing to have an obedient donkey. But as we pick up again this morning on our journey through Ephesians, we’ll find that when it comes to our families, obedience is an essential element in not only raising our children to become disciples of Jesus, but also in creating a legacy that we can pass on to future generations.
An old Chinese proverb says, "One generation plants the trees, and another gets the shade." I can really relate to that proverb. For most of our married life, it seems like very time that we moved into a new house and finally got around to getting our yard landscaped, we ended up moving for some reason. And occasionally we’ve had the opportunity to go back to those homes and observe how the current owners are enjoying the shade from the trees that we planted many years ago.
If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ this morning, you’re living in the shade that comes from the spiritual trees that were planted by a previous generation. For many of you, there is a rich spiritual heritage that has been passed down to you from your parents, grandparents, and maybe even many generations previous to that. And, as we’ll see this morning, that is an essential part of God’s design for the family.
But I also know that some of you haven’t been the beneficiaries of parents who helped you to grow in your faith. You don’t have that rich spiritual heritage that has been passed down through your family from generation to generation. Perhaps you’re even the very first follower of Jesus in your family. And if that’s the case, then God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, has provided spiritual parents for you that have planted those trees in your life.
Although the passage we’ll look at this morning is, on the surface, a very clear and simple command for children to obey and honor their parents, that command is just part of a larger plan of God to develop followers of Jesus Christ who will plant trees for generations to come. And for us to see that we need to take a few minutes to review so that we can put our passage in it’s proper context.
In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul described God’s work in our lives. He began by describing the working of God’s grace as God the Father chose us and predestined us to be adopted as His children, God the Son redeemed us from the devastation of sin and God the Holy Spirit sealed us as a guarantee that we will one day receive our full inheritance. He wrote about how Jesus destroyed all the barriers that separate His followers and brought us all together in this one body we call the church.
And then in chapter 4, Paul begins to give us some very practical instruction about how we are to live our daily lives given what God has done for us. That whole section, which goes all the way through the end of his letter, is pretty well summarized in chapter 5, verse 18, where Paul commands his readers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As we saw when we looked at that verse in detail, that is primarily a matter of being controlled by the Holy Spirit as we are saturated with God’s Word. And one of the results of being controlled by the Spirit is that Christ-followers submit to one another in their interpersonal relationships out of their reverence for Jesus.