Read Ephesians 6
Paul begins this section with the fifth commandment. Honor your father and mother. He focuses on the central part of honoring your parents—obedience.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord. Obey! That’s a tough word in 2022. It’s a really tough word for a two-year-old in 2022 when they suddenly develop a propensity for the word, “No.”
Children, obey your parents. Oooooh. I thought God was so cool. I thought Jesus was my friend, but now they tell me to obey my parents.
Yes, that’s the instruction. There is a guide for the parents in this directive. The children are told to obey their parents in the Lord. That last part is a reminder to the parents to bring up a child in the way he should go.
The directives that we give our children should be godly instructions. Those do include clean your room, make your bed, do your chores, say your prayers, and of course, read your assigned chapter in the Bible each day.
Parents, make sure that the instruction that we give our children is from God. It’s not just the fruit of momentary anger with them. Yes, our kids will do some stuff that will anger us or perplex us or just leave us wondering whose kid are you? But our response is always to give godly direction and correction.
Sometimes, godly instruction comes in words like, get me a switch! Some of you younger folks don’t know what that is. It’s twentieth-century speak for God disciplines those he loves and sometimes that discipline came with the words get me a switch.
Parents have other counsel from Paul. We need to pay close attention.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
What does it mean to exasperate? It’s to push too far. It’s to frustrate. It’s to irritate.
Parents, you may be frustrated. You may think your kids have pushed you to far, but remind yourself that you are the parent. This is not a competition. You have life experience and your kid is just beginning to explore life.
That means, when your child is pushing the limits, you stay with the limits. You are the adult. You have been trusted with this precious gift of a child—which at the moment is pushing all of your buttons—but you are the one trusted to bring your child up in the way he should go, in the way she should go.
Is there even a time for exasperation? Absolutely, but not for you. The Marines have drill instructors for that. They want to see if you can handle more than you think you can handle. As you bring up your children, you don’t want to give them more than they can handle. You are the safeguard.
Next comes some guidance that might seem outdated in this modern century. You decide. Slaves obey your earthly masters.
Yes, there is still some slavery in the world. In the western world, we would think it repugnant. In our modern society, I preach more about the self-inflicted slavery of debt than the traditional forms of slavery.
Paul speaks of slavery in which one person is owned or indebted to another person. It was a part of life at that time, perhaps much more so than today, but the principle involved speaks to us today.
Whomever you work for—an earthly master, a boss, a company foreman, or any other supervisor—remember that you ultimately work for the Lord and not an earthly master. We will see that again when we get to the letter to the Colossians.
And to the masters of earthly servants, Paul provides this counsel. Remember, there is one Master and he is Master of all. In relationships that really count, you are brothers and sisters who serve the same Master.
Masters, serve as an earthly master as if you are serving the Lord, not yourself. You know who is really the Master.
Some are disappointed that Paul did not decree that all slaves should be set free. I think that was his desire, but not his mission. His mission was to instruct us on how to live a life worthy of the calling that we have received.
So, children, obey your parents. That’s what God expects from you.
Parents, bring up your kids the right way. Remember, you are the parent, not the ruthless ruler of the universe.
Adults, as you go about your livelihoods, whether boss or work hand, remember that you are working for the Lord and not for a paycheck or another person. You will have a supervisor or boss and surely hope to get a paycheck, but what drives you is that your work pleases the Lord.
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