Summary: Leftovers can be great for meals, but there are times when they can be bad for a family. And we're not talking food here. What does God want us to be treat our family like and what difference does it make if we don't?
OPEN: How many of you have ever had Leftovers? One of my favorite meals is to go to a sit-down Chinese restaurant. They always give me more than I can eat and so I ask them to box the remainder up and so I can take it home. I enjoy that kind of leftovers. But leftovers can get… old. Especially if you’ve had to eat them over and over and over.
ILLUS: There’s the true story of a family that was sitting down for their evening meal. One of the girls was unhappy because they were having leftovers, and she complained. That made dad unhappy and he decided that she should say grace and that her prayer should show her appreciation for what she had. So she bowed her head and then prayed this prayer:
"Dear God…thank you for this food… again." (Heather Marshall in R.Digest, 5/03)
ILLUS: There’s another story about a preacher was getting a little tired of the leftovers. At meal time he picked at the food and ate a little… but had not said grace yet. His wife smiled sweetly at him and gently said, "Honey, you forgot the blessing." He looked over at her and said:
"Sweetheart, if you can show me one item that hasn't been blessed at least two times, I can't see what another prayer is going to do for it.”
Leftovers. At times they can get tiresome. Today we’re talking about giving your family leftovers. Not leftover MEALS, but leftover … YOU.
APPLY: In our text this morning, God is telling Children, Wives, Husbands and Fathers that there certain expectations He has for each Christian member of the family. And at the core of His expectations of us is that we NOT give our families leftovers.
First, let’s look at the pivotal verse in this section: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21). That’s the CORE verse … and for the next 16 verses God tells us HOW to submit to others.
The concept here is this: Children, wives, husbands and fathers who do not submit to each other are NOT ONLY disobeying God, but they are giving their families leftovers. You see, leftovers are 2nd best stuff and God doesn’t want us to give our families 2nd best stuff. God wants HIS people to give their families their BEST stuff. So, this section of Ephesians is telling us how to give our families the best that we have.
Now that’s hard to do because we are (generally) selfish people. It is 2nd nature for us to look out for ourselves, and our world tends to revolve around US… and OUR needs.
ILLUS: In a book called Empires of the Mind Dennis Waitley says that there are approximately 450,000 words in the English language but, on average, most of the time we only use about 400 words. And the most commonly used words in the English language are. . . "I," "Me," "My," and "Mine."
You have any doubts about the basic self-centeredness of people, remember that statistic. Now, of course God knows that and so, in this section of Ephesians, God asks us to kick the habit – to get out of the “I, Me, Mine” mindset. Notice that not once in this entire set of verses does God EVER say how OTHER members in the family should treat us?
Not once does it say
* Husbands, your wives need to submit to you (although many churches and preachers teach that).
* Wives, your husbands need to show love to you.
* Parents your children need to obey you.
* Children, your fathers ought not to beat on you.
Now, we all understand instinctively that that’s kinda the way things ought to be, but that’s not God’s focus here. What God is essentially saying here is this: “It’s not about how OTHERS treat you, it’s about how YOU treat others. Children, wives, husbands, fathers… submission to others in your family is what I expect from you. I don’t want any explanations, justifications or excuses. Just do it. Give your family your best stuff. Don’t be giving them the leftovers of your affection."
So let’s take this one step at a time. We’re going to start at the back end of this set of verses and work our way toward the front. So, let’s start with the kids. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” Ephesians 6:1-3
We kind of think of children obeying their parents as a given… it’s in their job description. But rebellion has been kind of built into their genes. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve there’s a part of instinctive part of kids that just want to say “NO! No, I don’t want to clean up my room. No, I don’t want to wash the dishes. No, I don’t want to sweep the floor."