Summary: What is God's design for gracious relationships between children and parents? What about marketplace relationships, like those between labor and management?
Good morning. My name is Bobby Gilles, and I’m a deacon here. This fall we’ve been journeying through the book of Ephesians, which is a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to Christians in the city of Ephesus. The first half of this letter reminds us of who we are in Christ. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom, adopted into His eternal family. We’re built on the cornerstone of Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The second part of this book says, “In light of who you are, this is how you should live.” Today, God’s Word provides instructions for how we should live in four stages, or roles, of life. I’m humbled to preach this to you, because I’ve sinned numerous times in each of these roles. But through the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, and through the support of God’s community, I’ve gotten better – it’s a gradual process, but I’m becoming more like Jesus.
And I believe that you, my brothers and sisters, are becoming more like Jesus, too. You will feel convicted by today’s text, but don’t feel condemned. Let the Spirit do his work of convicting you of sin and empowering you to confess it in your heart and in community. Then press on.
First, let’s take a close look at Ephesians 6:1-3
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 6:2 “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – 6:3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3
Nothing makes for an unpleasant family time around the dinner table like disobedient kids. When I was a kid, I wasn’t considered especially disobedient, but I was very mouthy, and I always had to have the last word. I ruined a lot of family dinners with my sarcastic comments.
I also learned that it was actually easier in some ways to say, “Jesus is Lord” than to say, “Yes Mom, I’ll take out the trash,” or “Yes Dad, I’ll cut the grass.” But if we’re to believe today’s Scripture, each statement is an act of worship that God loves.
These verses seem very clear, but they bring with them a host of questions. I’ve heard some of you ask these questions:
First, what if your parents aren’t Christians? For some of the teens in our student ministry, this is the case. Does “obey your parents in the Lord” mean “Obey the parents who are Christians?”
No. The phrase “in the Lord” modifies the verb “obey.” In other words, “Obey because you belong to the Lord,” not because your parents do. Or to put it even more clearly, “Obey your parents because Jesus says so.”
But what if your parents ask you to sin? Throughout the New Testament, the apostles command us to obey those in authority. But when the authorities commanded the apostles to stop preaching the gospel, they said, “We will obey God rather than you.” This is a very clear example: obey your parents unless they ask you to do something in violation of God’s Word.
But how long do we have to obey them? As long as you’re a child, under their care. But notice, today’s reading doesn’t just say “obey,” but also, “honor.” This means to show respect, to treat graciously. This goes back to the 5th Commandment, which God expects us to keep as long as we’re alive.
But what if your parents don’t deserve respect? It’s not about what they deserve, but what God asks of you. This is a hard, sad thing for some of you, because your parents sinned against you. Maybe they still sin against you. They’ve let you down so often, and hurt you so badly. Maybe they’ve let other people hurt you. Maybe nothing about their words or deeds is admirable.
But the God who forgives you, in Christ, will enable you to forgive them. Your family in Christ can journey through this with you. Pour out your heart to your Community Group. Ask them to pray with you.
One final question that I know some of you have, regarding this passage: what about the promise “Honor your father and mother … that you may enjoy long life.” What about our children who have died?
First, Paul is quoting this as a proverb, a paraphrase adapted from the 5th Commandment. Proverbs are statements that are generally true. This should make sense – if your parents say, “Don’t do drugs,” and then you do drugs, you are increasing your chance of having a short, unhappy life.
If they say, “Look both ways before crossing the street,” and you do not look both ways, you are increasing your chance of being killed by a car.