HONORABLE by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: If there’s one area in my life that I feel I still have a lot to learn, it’s in the area of parenting. Any other parents can agree on that? Through the years, Nicole and I have read books, attended conferences, and listened to other parents who have gone before us, but we still feel that there is so much we don’t understand. In our final message in this miniseries through Ephesians, we come to the section on children and parents. (You can start finding Ephesians 6:1.) So far, we’ve seen that the church is the body of Christ. It is essential. Last weekend, we also learned that a marriage between a man and a woman is a divine reenactment of the Christ-Church mystery. But, it doesn’t stop there. There are some very important implications for parenting. Main point of today’s message: A right view of the Christ-Church relationship will not only impact the husband-wife relationship but it will also impact the parent-child relationship. In other words, how you raise your children is directly impacted by how you see your marriage, and how you see your marriage is directly impacted by how you understand the mystery between Christ and the church. Ultimately, our kids are also a display of the gospel of Christ. The message is called HONORABLE.
Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Context: Typically, we zip past this verse and start talking about “children being obedient to their parents” or “parents raising their children in the right way.” But, stop and think about the radical nature of that statement. Paul was addressing children! This was unheard of in ancient times! When ancient philosophers and moralists addressed child-rearing, they only talked to the fathers. For example, there is an ancient document from around the same time period as the apostle Paul known as “De Liberis Educandis” (The Training of Children) by Pseudo-Plutarch. It only addressed fathers, not children. It told them not to father a child with a slave girl. In another place, it told the father to be sure that the nurse could speak proper Greek so the child won’t grow up with bad pronunciations. What we’re reading here is unusual! Children were not second-class citizens in the early church. They were important. Something else: Paul did not address only sons. By using the Greek word “tekna” children, he was including daughters also in his address. Again, we have evidence from ancient Ephesus that boys and girls could be identified specifically, and children included both boys and girls. Here’s the point: Proper understanding of the Christ-church mystery and its connection to the marriage relationship brings dignity to the children, both boys and girls.
Application: Have you heard the old adage – “Children are to be seen and not heard?” Nothing could be further from the truth. Children are very valuable! We believe that even the unborn child is valuable. Also, girls are not second class. They are incredibly valuable in God’s plan. One major reason that our culture is struggling with sex roles is because the church failed to speak on the incredible value of being a boy or being a girl. None is inferior and none is superior. They have different but important roles.
Listen again: 1 “Children, obey your parents…”
Background: What Paul was saying here was not a new concept in the Jewish world. It was always understood that God had placed parents in the lives of children to guide them in the right path and children were to obey their parents. In fact, failure to obey was taken very seriously. In Deuteronomy 21, there was even a law that if a parent had a son who was stubborn and rebellious, and if they were unable to do anything with him, they were to bring him to elders of the city by the city gate where court was held. Now, listen to verse 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.” I’m not sure how many parents actually used this law against their kid but I have a feeling many must have threatened their kid with it! Nonetheless, we can see the seriousness of obeying our parents. One big reason for the craziness we are seeing in our culture today is the failure to follow this commandment. Now, parents or adults are obeying the children and not vice versa.
What is even more interesting is that Paul did not use a threat to motivate obedience but a gentle reminder – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” “In the Lord” means “because you belong to the Lord” and “for this is right” means “not just because of the fear of discipline or punishment or some other reason.” Yes, there have to be age appropriate discipline, but there needs to be reason and explanation. This is much more than just tugging at their conscience. For this to happen, 2 things have to be in place: Make sure your children are in the Lord; Make sure you are in the Lord.
Application: Are your children in the Lord? Do they know Christ as their Savior and King? Invest on their salvation and you won’t have to pay in tears and heartache. Are you in the Lord? Do you know Christ as your Savior and King? Is your life marked by obedience to Christ and his word?
Paul was still not through—Verse 2 “‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: 3 that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Paul was invoking the fifth of the 10 commandments, the only one that came with the promise of prosperity and long life.
Why did God stick this right in the middle of the 10 commandments? I was reading some Jewish scholars. The relationship of honoring your parents lays the foundation of all other relationships in society. Think about it, what can your parents do for you after you are self-sufficient. Maybe help you here and there, but overall you are free to go. Nevertheless, we come back to them just because. When we understand the value of just because they are “my parents,” we also learn to honor people, just because. By the way, the Pharisees had tried to undermine this law and Jesus condemned them for that. Matthew 15 4 “For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” In Romans as well as 2 Timothy, Paul brought this up as a sign of the last days—2 Timothy 3 1 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”
Very important distinctions: You may not always obey but you are to always honor your parents. As long as children are in the stage of dependence on their parents, their honor is their obedience. When they go past that stage, their honor is their respect for the parents. By the way, don’t idolize your parents. If you do, you will blindly follow their mistakes. Frequently asked question: What if your parents have forfeited their position of honor? You respect them by honoring their position, not their person.
Now, Paul turned his attention to the parents, especially fathers—4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath…” This admonition is not found in the Old Testament or any other ancient literature! This would have been totally unheard of in ancient times! The Greek word for “provoke” is “parorgizo,” which means “do not exacerbate.” Amazingly, that word is found in the LXX to describe how the people of Israel provoked God with their sin! Why did Paul include this statement? Unlike mothers, who are typically more gracious and understanding, fathers can be harsh, over demanding, sarcastic, nagging, intimidating, unforgiving, and hypocritical. This can happen for many reasons: bad examples of our own fathers; long day; failure to see the other perspective; over expectations; etc. Instead, 4 “…but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” The Greek word for “training” is “paideia,” meaning “education,” and the word for “admonition” is “nouthesia,” meaning “correction and exhortation.” This is much more than “just do it.” It involves influencing the mind of your children. Just like in the marriage, the husband controls the spiritual thermostat of the family, so also, in rearing of the children, the father controls the spiritual curriculum.
Don’t forget the key phrase in verse 4 “…but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Our children don’t ultimately belong to us but to God. He wants us to cooperate with him in bringing them into this world to fulfil his holy purpose. Ultimate goal of biblical parenting: To work yourself out of a job. Lead them to follow Christ. Objection: I don’t want to force my faith on my children. They may rebel.
|REBELLING||LOSING THE WAY|
|1. Rebelling means fighting against how one was raised.||1. Losing the way has nothing to do with how one was raised.|
|2. Rebelling has to do with hurt and hypocrisy.||2. Losing the way has to do with the temptations of life.|
|3. I have met people who were rebelling. I could see the anger in their eyes towards their parents. It was about how to make someone suffer for their pain.||3. I have met young people who lost their way. They were like the Prodigal Son who realized that it was so much better back home. They wanted to come home.|
Invitation: How is the training coming, especially through 2020? Did your kids learn what it means to follow Christ and not the world? Did you breathe courage and faith in them? Did you teach them that the church is essential? Are you setting the right example for them? Children – Are you obeying or honoring your parents? Do you know Christ as your Savior and King? Are you a parent of a wayward child? Are you a single mom trying to do the best you can? God’s grace is available to you.