Summary: This is the third message in our series "Desperate Households." We’re taking a close look at Ephesians 5:21-6:4. Today the Scripture we’re going to study essentially shows us how to treat our parents.
This is the third message in our series “Desperate Households.” We’re taking a close look at Ephesians 5:21-6:4. The past two weeks we’ve focused on the relationship between husbands and wives. I’m calling today’s message “The Proper Care and Feeding of Parents.” The Scripture we’re going to study essentially shows us how to treat our parents. For young people I guarantee that these principles will revolutionize your relationship with your parents! So…please listen carefully!
I’m sure we all have memorable stories about growing up. I remember one time in the 6th grade I snuck out of the house with a friend, Rick Nedrow. Rick was spending the night at my house. About midnight, we crept down the stairs trying to miss all the squeaky steps; we slid by my parents’ bedroom in stealth-mode, then we climbed out the kitchen window into the back yard. From there we walked out to the street. We were only 12 years old but we felt like prisoners who had just escaped from Alcatraz! Did I mention we were in our pajamas and bathrobes? If anyone saw us, it must have been quite a sight!
Rick and I wandered around for about 20 minutes until the thrill of escape wore off. Then we headed back. Have I ever told you the story about coming around the corner that night and seeing the living room light on? Someday, I tell you what happened that night when we tried to sneak back in. But for now, I just want to remind you that we all have stories about growing up, don’t we? For some growing up was lots of fun. Others have mostly painful memories. But all of us are indelibly impacted by those formative years.
Today, our focus is on the very first relationship we have in life. You see, our first relationship in life is with our parents. For most of us, the first word we uttered was probably “ma-ma” or “da-da.” Now, if you’ve spoken with Dave Pascoe on our staff, you know he has a vocabulary like a walking encyclopedia. I think his first word was probably something like bamboozled or organic.
Our first relationship in life—the one with our parents—shapes us in profound ways. For example, from our relationship with our parents we develop perceptions about ourselves—sometimes these are healthy, sometimes they’re not. From the relationship with our parents we also develop respect for authority, or the lack of it. We also learn many of our lifelong values. Because of this overwhelming impact on our life, it’s critical to know what God expects in our relationship with our parents.
To explore this, let’s look at Ephesians 6:1-3. The first thing to note is that the Greek word “children” in verse 1 does not refer particularly to young children like the English word might suggest. The word is tekna in the Greek. It’s a word that can be translated by “offspring.” So this passage to some extent applies to all of us because all of us are offspring; we’ve all had parents. For clarity in today’s message I’m going to refer to offspring as young people, but the principles apply to all of us.
In this passage two over-arching characteristics describe how God expects a young person to treat his or her parents. This is God’s plan for the proper care and feeding of parents. The two characteristics are obedience and honor. The first is an action; the second is an attitude. Let’s begin in verse 1 with obedience.
1. Young people are to obey their parents.
The word “obey” literally means “to hear under.” It means to listen carefully and respond appropriately. Sadly, often we don’t listen well, especially when we’re teenagers. When our kids were adolescents, Pam and I began to experience for the first time the infamous “eye roll.” In fact, one of our favorite family videos was taken on vacation when our second daughter, Christina, was in junior high. Now, more than a decade later, when we watch the video we laugh our heads off because it captures Christina in rare form giving us eye roll after eye roll. But at the time, it wasn’t so funny because the eye roll meant Pam and I were being tuned out; listening had stopped.
I love what James 1:19 has to say to those who roll their eyes at their parents. “Everyone is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This is huge! Young people, be quick to listen! You won’t know if what parents say has any value until you’ve listened to them!
Notice verse 1 adds that children are to obey their parents “in the Lord.” This phrase “in the Lord” means that God has given parents a sphere of authority over their children. It’s a young person’s responsibility to obey their parents as long as their parents are within that sphere of authority. But if parents ask their children to steal or lie, children don’t have to obey because the parents have moved away from their sphere of authority. God never condones wrong-doing.