A few weeks ago, my good friend and pastor, John Stroup, sent me some sermon notes he used for a recent bible study through Ephesians. They were in a format that was different than a devotional, but nevertheless, they were packed with fantastic insight and information. The following devotional is adapted from his notes, in my writing. You can call it a collaboration, but credit should go to John for his notes and insight. Check out his blog and ministry and support his work as much as you can!
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
The Right Perspective
Ephesians 5 & 6 can sometimes be a stumbling block to many Christians and non-Christians alike. Sometimes, we can use it to incorrectly further our own agenda in marriage, parenting or business. Non-Christians can sometimes take things in these chapters out of context and use them to condemn Christianity or the practices that it teaches.
I believe, if we really dig in and read the entire chapters, giving Paul some context, we can see his heart and intent. We can see that in everything he’s talking about, his number one priority is to prepare and teach people that in our life, if we give God obedience before anyone or anything else, we will hit the mark. Every single aspect that Paul mentions relates 100% to obedience to God before anything, or anyone else! Failure to adhere to that point is a failure on our part to read and interpret these passages correctly. Here are some examples;
- Ephesians 5:21: Submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord.
- Ephesians 5:23: Husbands are head of the wives, just as Christ is the head of the church….
- Ephesians 5:25: Husbands love your wives as Christ also loved the church….
- Ephesians 6:1: Children obey your parents in the Lord…
- Ephesians 6:4: Fathers don’t provoke your kids, but bring them up in the Lord….
- Ephesians 6:5: Bondservants work for your masters as to Christ…
- Ephesians 6:6-7: Work as though you are working for the Lord…
- Ephesians 6:9: Masters (bosses) don’t threaten your servants, because you answer to the Big Boss!
Parents and Children
Being a parent is very challenging. In the day we live in, it is difficult to raise your children in a Biblically correct manner and not be condemned for it. From respect to discipline, it’s no longer politically correct discipline your children according to the standards the Bible sets forth.
However, what do we see prevalent in public these days? It seems everywhere you go you can see a classic example of children disrespecting their parents. We’re not just talking about the occasional tantrum or disappointment because they’re not getting what they want in the store. Those are bound to happen and understandable at times. We’re talking about outright disrespect for parents.
If you hang out at any Wal-Mart for longer than 15 minutes, you’re going to see this in action. You’ll see anything from angry outbursts, abuse or even children cussing out their parents.
You might say “Ohh it’s not that bad!” I’ll say that it is a serious issue because, with few exceptions, rebellion starts at home. Most of the time, a rebellious attitude and heart, left uncorrected and without Christ, will follow that child into adulthood and present itself in their everyday life. It will continue to present itself towards parental authority and eventually present itself towards other authorities in society from police to bosses or others.
Paul enforces the Ten Commandments here. Sure, we no longer live under the law, but that doesn’t mean some of the principles of it are no longer relevant. It’s still a good idea to enforce Exodus 20:12, honor your father and mother. Parents, raise your children in a manner that will cause them to honor you. Present yourself in an honorable manner, in a way that will make your children proud to call you mom and dad. When you discipline your children, do it with love and honor. Make sure they know why they’re in trouble and being disciplined and make sure everything you do ultimately honors God. Parents, if your parents are still alive, you’re to honor them as well. That doesn’t mean that you condone immoral, illegal, and ungodly character! However, you are to show them respect, as they have to answer to God in the end for the things they have done!
Do you know what the difference is between discipline and punishment? Discipline deals with the future, and punishment deals with the past. Punishment in a court is handed down for what people have done in their past. Punishment has it’s place, but discipline is better because it has a future and lasting purpose. It teaches holiness, a good character and righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). Be a parent who instills discipline and teaching, not one who just deals out punishment all the time.
Children, honor your parents, because they sacrifice so much for you. When you are disciplined, understand that it’s because they love you and want to teach you how to live and walk closer to God. You may not understand this in the heat of the moment, but after some time you will. Just as God disciplines his children (Hebrews 12:6), so your parents chasten you.
Discipline is never pleasant, but is necessary. Children, respect and honor the discipline handed down by your parents and take responsibility for your own actions. If done correctly, discipline is never handed down for something you didn’t do yourself. So take the discipline and learn from it and become a better person!
Those In Authority
Are you a boss or manager? Do you have authority over people in your workplace? I believe God’s Word has something to say to you. Paul teaches us here that if we have authority over others, we should realize that we will answer to the One Authority in heaven someday. We should always keep that in mind when we’re managing others. Treat your employees as you would want to be treated. God has put you in that position for a reason and that reason isn’t so you could rule and push others around to do what you want. Sure, sometimes there have to be hard decisions made that might not please everyone, but in all areas you should seek to glorify him. If that hard decision is asking someone to do something they don’t like doing, then bring them into your office and explain the situation. Don’t just hand down marching orders like a dictator.
Remember that you answer to a boss that isn’t impressed by your job title, your reputation, or your authority here on earth. He will judge you on how you treat others! You’re reward is not here on earth, so don’t act like it is. Don’t work for things on earth, rather work to store up treasures in heaven. When you work for heavenly gain, your heart will be fixed and focused on that; not on what others can do for you in your current role as boss. (Matthew 6:19-21)
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
If you seek the good of others in everything you do, you’ll have honor and respect for everyone. Choose today to honor everyone as God’s creation. Even if you don’t agree with something they’re doing, saying or practicing, you can still have honor.
In a society where parents don’t earn the honor and respect of their kids, children don’t want to honor their parents, marriages don’t contain honor between spouses and people don’t honor authority, YOU CHOOSE HONOR! Choose to respect people in everything you do, and let God be honored by all your actions!