Summary: This is the 21st sermon in the "Accounting" series from the Book of Ephesians.
Series: Accounting [#21]
Every year, we have to do something that no one enjoys- Taxes. 1 of the questions you are asked is, “How many dependents do you have”? Basically, you can count your spouse and children. I have always found it interesting that this word is used; because it makes sense. Children should be dependent upon their parents. I do not know if you have noticed this; but as Paul wrote this letter, he applied the Gospel to every part of life. We’ve been looking for 2 weeks at how Paul applied the Gospel to marriage, and today we come to how Paul applied the Gospel to children, and then to parents.
What in the world does the Gospel have to do with parenting? According to Paul, everything. The Gospel is what God has done through Jesus Christ at the cross. The Gospel changes our relationships. The best way to transform your marriage, your relationships with your parents or children, or any relationship is to be transformed by the Gospel.
1. Uncovers your sins.
Sometimes when people study Ephesians, they think that Paul was reinforcing traditional family values of that day; but if you look closer, you will begin to understand that Paul was uncovering the sins of parents in that day and of today. Paul knew that the rights of a Roman father was almost unlimited. A father could sell his children as slaves. He could make them work in the field, even in chains. He could punish them how he liked and could even inflict the death penalty on them; and this power extended over the life of his children no matter how long they lived. A Roman son never came of age. His father had rights over him as long as the father lived.
When a child was born, the child would be placed before the father. If the father bent down and raised the child, the child was accepted and raised as his; but if he turned away, the child was rejected and literally thrown out. Sometimes the baby would be picked up by those who trafficked in infants and raised them to be slaves or prostitutes. Other times, they were left to die.
All of a sudden, Paul changed the value of children, just as Jesus had done. Paul shows us that a father has great responsibilities towards his children. Before you think that this was only a Roman problem 2,000 years ago, I want you to think about our society’s attitudes concerning children.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"-which is the first commandment with a promise- 3"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
2. Changes the relationship of children to parents.
Because of the Gospel, we need to see that children should not be undervalued or overvalued. “Honor your father and mother”, is the 5th of the 10 Commandments. Honor requires reverence, obedience, and gratitude. Even when our parents are older, we should honor them by taking care of them when they need help.
Children, while living at their parent’s home need to obey them. As they get older and leave the home, they should still honor their wisdom and example; but they are now to make their own decisions. In Paul’s day, the traditional view said that you obey your father because your father has all the rights and you have no choice. Paul says no to this. You obey and willingly submit to your parents because it is right, because it is pleasing to the Lord, and because things generally go well with you when you do. Obedience to God leads to blessings.
It also challenges modern views of the family. Today we teach our children that submission to authority is a bad thing, and to challenge others and to think for themselves.
Paul says that both the traditional and modern views are wrong. Children are to honor their parents as part of their duty to the Lord. This means obeying when you’re young, but even when you’re older it means showing respect and appreciation for your parents, as well as looking after them.
What gives children the desire to honor imperfect parents, to care for them even at great cost? The Gospel does. The Gospel gives us the ability to forgive the sins of our imperfect parents, because we see how much we have been forgiven. It gives us the selflessness to care for our parents at great cost because we see how much Christ has sacrificed for us. It lifts us out of our selfishness, so that the way we treat our parents becomes a reflection of our love for the Lord.