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Today’s reading is from Ephesians 6: 1-4:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—this is the first commandment with a promise: 3 “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In the last chapter and a half of Ephesians, Paul talks a lot about relationships. We’ll end up in the coming days talking about spiritual warfare. Before we get to that, though, we look at some key relationships within our lives. Friday we talked about marriage. Today we look at parents and children.
Paul tells us first off, as children, to obey and honor our parents. As we are told, this is a command with a promise from God. This makes sense when we are younger. But I often hear this passage looked at regarding two things that may happen. First, what about when we are older, and second, what about if our parents are not leading in a way the deserves our obedience.
First, let’s talk about what happens as we grow. I tell couples when I do premarital counseling with them that when her hand goes into his hand, the family that matters the most moving forward is that family that is formed at that moment. As much as we love and honor our families of origin, it is that new family that is formed that is not preeminent. As much as we love and honor our parents, we make the decision that we think is best for our family. Now, that said, I deeply love and respect my mom and dad, and I what to know what they think about the different situations in our lives. I respect their opinion and there is much wisdom that I can gain by listening to them and seeking their input. That doesn’t mean that I will always do what they want, but I will respect what they say. They are my parents and they deserve that.
Second, if your parents are not in a place where their life or decisions are ones that are healthy for them, you, or others, we are still obligated to respect them, as we are obligated to respect every other person on the face of the earth. Each person is an image bearer and deserves our respect. But no relationship should be one that would lead us into harm or dangers. I can love you and respect and honor you. But it does mean that I will follow you into paths of destruction.
Then we see a word for us as parents. We are not to provoke our children, but to discipline them to the Lord. As a parent, I have never wanted to discipline or punish my children when I was upset, I wanted them to know that the consequences are not because I was angry, but because the rules were broken. It is our job to teach our children. Not be angry or frustrated when they don’t get it right. The Lord convicted me years ago that there are grown adults who can’t control themselves. My job is not to get mad at my children when they mess up. It is to teach them how not to mess up.
Just as our children should honor us, we as parents should honor them.
In all of these relationships, Paul is teaching us the worth of each other.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at Ephesians 6: 5-9.
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