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Jesus and Parenting

Ephesians: Bringing It All Together  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:32
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How does our relationship with Jesus impact our relationship to our parents and to our children? Find out in this week's message from Ephesians 6:1-4

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As we are picking back up in Ephesians this morning, I am going to suggest that we are still carrying on in the theme of 5:21…submitting to one another.
One aspect of that we didn’t really focus much on last week was how incredibly controversial this would have been when Paul wrote it.
Let me give you a quick overview of why this whole section would have caused such a stir.
In Roman life, a husband and father had a right called “patria potestas”. That gave him absolute authority over everyone in his household, including slaves, his kids, and even his wife.
He was able to rule his him with an iron fist, and no one could do anything about it.
In the passage we looked at last week and what we will see this week and next, God is showing that in bringing everything together in Christ, he completely obliterated that right that the men thought they had.
Last week, we saw that husbands and wives are called to submit to each other by representing Christ in their marriage to each other. Wives do this by actively deferring control to their husbands, and husbands do this by sacrificing for their wives like Jesus sacrificed for us.
The guys would expect Paul to tell them that their wives should submit, but for a husband to have to submit to his wife and put her needs ahead of his own? That was preposterous.
Next week, we are going to look at how God changed social order in light of masters and slaves, and we are going to try to draw out some principles on our work relationships from there.
This week, however, we keep our attention at home to look at how Jesus comes into the relationship between parents and their kids.
Again, we are going to start with more of what you would expect, addressing children’s relationships to their parents, and then we will see it flipped upside down again the commands to dad specifically and mom as well.
Let’s read with me. Start in .
The first command we see here is...

1) Children: Honor your parents.

Just like with marriage, Paul begins with the part that would have made sense to the people he was writing to.
Parents would naturally expect their kids to honor them.
However, his reasoning is very different.
First, he calls children to obey their parents.
As a general rule, children should do what their parents tell them to do.
There is the note made that children should obey their parents, “in the Lord,” which tells us again that you are not supposed to obey an authority figure that goes against what God says is right.
We see that clearly in the book of Acts. Peter and John are arrested for preaching about Jesus, and the Jewish leaders tell them to stop.
Normally, God tells us to obey leaders who are over us, but in this instance, they were telling the apostles to go against what God said to do.
Acts 4:19–20 CSB
Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
You do not have to obey your parents if they are telling you to openly go against what God says.
That doesn’t mean you can disobey them when you don’t like what they said; only when what they said goes against what God says.
If your parents tell you to cheat or steal or lie or stop reading your Bible, you have to obey God instead of them.
Why does Paul say we are supposed to obey our parents?
Because it is the right thing to do.
Sure, he gives some practical promises in a minute, but the first reason we are supposed to obey our parents is because it is the right thing to do.
Usually, we say it is right because it is helping you to learn to obey God, and it definitely is.
However, even if you don’t learn any lesson from obeying your parents, even if it doesn’t seem to make life better, it is still the right thing to do.
We don’t usually think about that as a good reason to do something, but the fact of the matter is, there are times when you are supposed to do something because it is right. It isn’t because it will make things easier or better, it is because it is the right thing to do.
With that said, there are positive reasons why it is right.
Like I just said, when you obey your parents in the Lord, you are learning to obey God.
There are going to be times when you grow up where God is going to ask you to do things that you don’t like.
If you learn to do things like that when you are younger, it sets you up to do the right thing as you grow.
That’s why your parents are hard on you! Because they want you to be as prepared as possible to stand on your own two feet and honor Christ by yourself one day.
Did you notice that this isn’t just about your actions? It is about your attitude as well.
Notice, as well, that honoring your parents is a part of God’s promise
Look at verse 2-3.
We obey by the way we act, but we honor our parents with our attitude.
When we learn to honor them, it helps us live self-disciplined lives, which then helps every area of our life, which is why God outlined the principle in verse 3.
These verses definitely apply to children, but most of us in here aren’t kids anymore. We are out of Mom and Dad’s houses and living on our own, so we are off the hook, right?
Listen to me: the command to honor your parents never goes away.
The way you live it out changes, but you are always supposed to carry that honor and respect for your parents until the day they die.
We know this because of one of the situations that made Jesus mad.
In his day, people had devised a system to hold onto their money so they wouldn’t have to help their parents as they aged.
They would supposedly dedicate their money as an offering to God, which was done by calling it, “corban”. If they dedicated their money as “corban,” it could only be used for spiritual offerings.They weren’t allowed to spend it to help out their parents.
Here’s how Jesus reacted to that:
Mark 7:7–11 CSB
They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands. Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.” He also said to them, “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’ ” (that is, an offering devoted to God),
Mark 7:11–13 CSB
But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’ ” (that is, an offering devoted to God), “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
No matter how old you get, you are always expected to honor your father and mother. Period.
By the way, isn’t that what Jesus did for us?
If you were with us last week, you will remember that we talked about Jesus’ prayer right before he was going to be put to death for us.
Matthew 26:39 CSB
Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Although he is fully God, Jesus has the role of the Son of God. As the Son, he honored his father by obeying his command, even though that meant that Jesus would have to suffer and die for us.
The Father commanded Jesus to go to the cross to pay for your sin and mine, and in doing so, he made the way possible for you and me to have a relationship with God as our heavenly Father as well.
It is isn’t through our ability to honor our parents and keep every command. Instead, we come into a relationship with God through Jesus’ perfect obedience to his Father.
When we find ourselves in a place where it seems to hard or too costly to continue honoring our parents, look back at Jesus and see how he honored his Father, and allow God to strengthen you to do the same.
Paul doesn’t leave it there, though.
He is once again showing that Jesus is bringing all things together and totally upsetting the social order while he does it.
Go back to 6:4 to see what God expects of parents.
If you and I are going to see Jesus in our homes, we as parents need to..

2) Parents: Lead them well.

Although this command is for both moms and dads, don’t miss who he specifically addresses, guys.
Although this command is for both moms and dads, don’t miss who he specifically addresses, guys.
Back in 6:1, Paul uses a special word in Greek that means “parents”. It isn’t like in Spanish where singular means “father” and plural means “parents”. Paul is specifically calling on dads to lead the charge in raising their kids well.
I recognize that we have a variety of families in the church, and dad or mom may not be around to help with the kids.
However, know that God’s pattern is that, just like leading his wife, dad should be leading his kids.
That would have been the controversial part of what God was calling the church at Ephesus. Remember, dad had the right, literally, to allow his child to be killed if he wanted.
So, then, for God to command that dads care for their children, caring about who they are and how they are developing, would have been completely revolutionary.
Paul starts with a negative command, telling us what not to do.
He says, specifically to dads, “don’t stir up anger in your children.”
Last week, we saw that husbands and wives are called to submit to their parents
Let’s be clear, though: this doesn’t mean that you aren’t supposed to ever do something that upsets your child.
You can remember back when you were a teenager and you did something wrong, so your parents took away your keys or lowered your curfew or grounded you from something you loved, right?
That probably made you mad, so were they violating God’s command? Not at all. In most cases, they did that to help you learn that your actions have consequences.
So what does it mean? John MacArthur describes it this way,
So what does it mean? John MacArthur describes it this way,
“[stir up anger] suggests a repeated, ongoing pattern of treatment that gradually builds up a deep-seated anger and resentment that boils over in outward hostility.”
Stirring up anger is a habitual pattern that demonstrates to the child that they aren’t loved well, secure, or cared for rightly.
Other translations use the word “exasperate” for this. It’s the idea that no matter how hard you try, you can’t ever get it right, so you get tired and frustrated and quit even trying.
He then goes on to give several possible ways to do this:
Over-protection/smothering – MacArthur notes this:
Children need careful guidance and certain restrictions, but they are individual human beings with their own right and must learn to make decisions on their own…Their wills can be guided but cannot be controlled”
Someone I saw on the internet recently commented that we are expecting 18 year olds to make decisions about taking on massive amounts of debt, deciding what to do with their life, and other major decisions, where a month ago, they had to raise their hand to be excused from class to go to the restroom.
There is a process that we as parents must go through where we are allowing our kids to make their own choices, even when we know those choices may very well have bad outcomes. That process varies from family to family, and even child to child, but when we smother them, we are creating anger and frustration instead of allowing them to grow to be who God has made them to be.
Showing favoritism/comparison – Because each child has been uniquely created by God, you will do nothing but build resentment by comparing your kids.
Pushing achievement beyond reasonable bounds – We do this with school, sports, music lessons, cleanliness, etc. Children must be allowed to grow up, fail, and move forward.
Discouragement – Your children must hear encouraging words from you, especially dad.
Making them feel unwanted – Children need to know that you will sacrifice for them, that you care about them, and that they are vital parts of your lives.
Using love as a tool of reward/punishment – You give your child love when they do well, and they get wrath and no love when they disobey.
Physical & verbal abuse [1]
If we as dads engage our children in these ways, then we will create anger that will, at best, leave a lasting scar that they carry for life and, at worst, turn them away from the God who loves them.
Dad, think about it: if you didn’t have a good father in your life, how hard was it for you to believe that God was your loving heavenly father?
Yes, Mom, you have a role in this to play as well, especially if you are in a situation where you are having to play both mom and dad to your kids.
However, Dad, it starts with you.
So, instead of exasperating your kids, look at what we should do (see 6:4).
We are to teach and train them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Dad, your role for your kids is the same as your role for your wife: help them grow in Christ-likeness.
This goes back to something we covered a few months ago when we talked about loving your family.
Deuteronomy 6:6–9 CSB
These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.
Your role for your kids is the same as your role for your wife: help them grow in Christ-likeness.
deut 6:
You repeat these words to your kids, which means you are going to be teaching them what God’s word says at some point. It may be as simple as reading a verse with them at dinner or bedtime, but you are called to teach your kids God’s word.
Then, you are called to talk about it anytime and every time. You are constantly on the lookout for ways to bring Jesus into the picture.
I’m not talking about trying to force Jesus into a conversation — “Honey, did you finish your homework? Remember, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ when he died, so let me know when you’re done!”
I am saying you stay alert for opportunities to talk about what you are learning or how God would have you to act or think about a situation.
Teach them God’s word, and show them how a Christian should live.
Discipline them in a way that reflects the way God disciplines us. Do what you can to influence them to grow up to love Jesus and His church and to live it out in a culture that is growing more and more hostile to the Gospel.
Discipline them in a way that reflects the way God disciplines us. Do what you can to influence them to grow up to love Jesus and His church and to live it out in a culture that is growing more and more hostile to the Gospel.
If you are wondering how to do that, let me encourage you to sign up for The Art of Parenting small group.
[1] John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Ephesians. p. 317-318
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