Proclaiming the Unsearchable Riches of Christ (see 3:8)
Children and Parents
(Please open your Bible and read Ephesians 6:1-4)
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
The above verses provide the necessary context for Ephesians chapter 6, verses 1-4, in which Paul shows us God’s will concerning the parent/child relationship. Christ loved us. He gave Himself up for us. Our sins have been wiped off the books.
This gospel context is necessary because only when the Spirit through Word and Sacrament impresses these truths upon our hearts can we be moved to imitate God’s love in our human relationships.
Our sinful nature, of course, does not want to imitate God in anything.
Paul’s words in chapter six condemn us all, for we are still sinners. In our duties as children or parents we are miserable failures. And yet as we turn back to Christ and His cross, we find forgiveness.
At Jesus’ cross we also find the grace to open our hearts to Paul’s words and to follow them. What a blessing it is when the Spirit makes both child and parent willing to follow God’s instructions.
To children who honor and obey their parents out of love for God, God gives the promise of a good and long earthly life. God is not saying that obedient Christian children will be without trouble in this world. They will, however, avoid some of the pitfalls that rebellious children bring upon themselves. For example:
+ Because they refuse to listen to their parents and to warnings about
drugs and alcohol, the health of rebellious youth may suffer greatly in
+ Rebellious children often grow up to be lawbreakers, their lives plagued
by legal trouble and even imprisonment.
+ Not willing to respect their parental providers, they, as adults, are
likely to have little respect for those who provide them with a paycheck;
the predictable result is financial headaches due to the loss of one job
+ Most tragically, a disregard for human authority shows itself in a lack
of respect for God and His Word; rebellion against authority leads to
plenty of earthly trouble; unless there is repentance, it can also lead
to eternal damnation.
A Critical Need
Certainly it’s true that not every dutiful Christian child lives a long
life. Some of God’s most obedient lambs die at a very tender age. When this happens, we trust that God knows best. And when we search His Word, we find at least one reason why God may see fit to bring one of his faithful servants home at an early age. ” . . . Devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil” (Is. 56:1)
Paul’s words to Christian parents–in particular, to Christian fathers–are never outdated: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
But so many fathers–even some Christian fathers–are MIA, missing in action. Sadly, the spiritual training of the children is often left to the mother. To be sure, Mom is to play a vital role. But Dad is to take the lead, making every effort to show his children how deeply concerned he is for their souls.
Who can deny that this is one of the most critical needs in the church today? Families and congregations are in decline because too many fathers have been negligent in their God-given duty. Fathers need to become the spiritual leaders of their families once again.
Following God’s instructions does bring blessings. If the hearts of the fathers would again be turned back to the children, the blessings to family, church, and state would be innumerable.
Dads, remember the context of Paul’s instructions and turn to God’s
awesome love in Christ! His rich supply of love will help you love your children in the way God designates here in Ephesians. Your heavenly Father sacrificed His best for you–His Son. May His love move you to give your very best to your children.
Parents and children alike inherit eternal salvation by grace alone
through faith in Christ alone. Being a faithful parent or an obedient child does nothing to earn us a place in heaven. Yet God’s Word shows us what great damage–especially spiritual damage–is done when either parent or child sets aside these divine instructions from Ephesians 6. It shows also what wonderful blessings come when they are taken to heart and followed.
Forgive us, Jesus, where we have disregarded Your guidance for the family. Move us, Jesus, by Your Word of love to cherish and follow Your guidance.
–Pastor Michael Wilke