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Ephesians 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (2) Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) (3) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (4) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
“For this is right”. What is “right” and what is wrong? In our world today it seems as if the lines between right and wrong are blurred. Why is that? The charge can be laid directly at the feet of parents and grandparents and great grandparents. God gave the parents of the child the responsibility to teach what is “right” and what is wrong. When God gave Israel the land of promise He told them:
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 … Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…
To teach the child was the give your stewardship the knowledge of God. God told His people:
Deuteronomy 6:18 … And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers …
How is “right” defined? It is “that which is right and good IN THE SIGHT OF GOD”. The Bible says:
Proverbs 21:2 … Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:…
But in Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.
In our world today most people do not know right or wrong. They guess at it, or listen to the majority and grasp after it, but none truly understand right or wrong. Too many professing Christians are like Lot who sat in the gate of the city, silently watching the evil around him in Sodom and Gomorrah, but never speaking the Word of God. What came of Lot’s attitude? Because Lot failed to speak up and teach the children right according to God our Savior that iniquity grew and grew until God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). When Lot left that city his own inquiry abounded, and through incest with his daughters created two cursed nations – the Moabites and the Ammonites (Genesis 19:37-38; Deuteronomy 23:3).
Failure to teach the children right according to God’s Word brings a curse on a person, and on a nation. The children of yesterday are the adults of today – and a curse has been brought on our nation because of lazy and godless parenting.
Authority Is Learned While A Child
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey parents in the Lord: for this is right.
The word “obey” is interesting, the Greek υπακουω, hupakouo, (pronounced hoop-ak-oo’-o), which means “to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively and then respond according to the command”. Children are taught to listen to and obey their parents as the first authority figures in their lives. The child that grows up without authority will grow up into an adult without authority. This leads to anarchy and eventually the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I heard Dr. David Jeremiah tell this story:
“Three-year-old Holland was arguing with her mom during bedtime. Finally, her mother tucked the girl in, saying firmly, “I love you, Holland, but not another word tonight. You are going to sleep now. I’m done fussing over stuffed animals.” Holland said: “Mommy, I forgive you.” The mother didn’t know Holland even knew the word forgive, so she asked what she meant. The child said, “It means you were wrong, and I’m tired of being mad, and now I’m going to sleep and my heart won’t have a tummy ache.”
This mother had been teaching her child the things of God, for she had taught the child Jesus’ command:
Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus taught us to forgive, and to do good even to our enemies. The child learned that, and praise God for it. But the child is also being taught obedience to authority, lawful authority, which is so necessary and yet so lacking in our world today.
In colleges across our nation parents are paying exorbitant fees to colleges and universities so that the same children can shout down speakers and disrupt classes all in some evil twisting of the American Constitution. Cities are violating federal laws under some guise of allowing illegal and non tax paying immigrants into our society. One political party in our country is a thinly veiled presentation of socialism, whereas the other political party tramples the rights of workers in the name of free enterprise. Did I make you mad? Good. Then what I said is about right.
Children are to be taught “what is right in the Lord.” The phrase in the Lord is, I am told, found 115 times in the King James text, and always refers to an attitude and an action of righteousness as modeled by our God.
I wish more people had military training. It was in the military that I was introduced to the phrase “lawful order”. When a superior gives a “lawful order” I, as an airman, had to follow that command to the best of my ability. No one had to obey unlawful orders. Whether you served in the military or not, if you saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge you saw an illustration of lawful and unlawful orders. The movie was based on the life of a Christian named Desmond Doss. Desmond almost didn’t make it to Okinawa, which would have been not only tragic, but would have caused the death of many other Americans. His commander gave him an unlawful order, one that he refused to obey (if you want the details, see the movie!). Thankfully the order was rescinded – and Desmond went on to Okinawa where he saved 75 soldiers during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. His actions were rewarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Children are to obey their parents when given lawful orders, that is, direction that is honoring to the Holy Scripture. Children are to be taught that they have a sacred obligation to follow the direction of their parents. Parents are not to abuse nor molest their children. The Bible says that children are gifts from God:
Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward. (4) As arrows [are] in the hand of a mighty man; so [are] children of the youth. (5) Happy [is] the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Children are to be a blessing to their parents. They are not only to “obey” their parents, but are to “honor” them. We read:
Ephesians 6:2 Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Obey is an action, whereas honor is an attitude.
Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ told this story:
“A mother was driving to school one day, and her youngest child was standing in the seat beside her. Realizing the danger, she said to him, “Sit down and buckle up! I may have to stop suddenly and you’ll be thrown against the windshield.” “No!” the little boy refused. “I said sit down, dear, I don’t want you to get hurt,” the mother said sternly. “No!” came the stubborn reply. Finally, she reached over and pulled him down. He sat there sullenly for a moment, then he said, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”
In America children have much greater liberty than they did in the ancient world. Both Jewish as well as Roman societies treated children with respect, but children had absolutely no rights until they reached a certain age. This may seem strange to many of you who are driving cars at the age of 16, who have mobile phones and computers, television, stereos, but the ancient children had no such things. We pretend that American economy is failing, yet our children have much more than children in other parts of the world. Please, dear children, do not allow things to lead you into disrespect of your parents. There is a good reason for respecting your parents.
Godly Respect Of Godly Parents Leads To Long Life
Ephesians 6:2 Children, … Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Look at that phrase, which is the first commandment WITH PROMISE. What is the Lord talking about? The fifth commandment that God gave Israel on Mount Sinai is found in:
Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
God will give the child long life if they obey their parents in the Lord. Parents get to be parents by living through many things, making many mistakes along the way. The parents know from experience and scarring certain things are right, whereas other things are wrong. God tells us to listen to those who have lived through their youth, and live long lives! In America the elderly is not as respected as they are in other parts of the world. Pay attention to those who have gone before.
Ephesians 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou MAYEST live long on the earth.
That word “mayest” emphasizes that long life is not certain unless the Lord’s command is followed.
Satan does not know all things, but he does know this: if he can get you to following his direction, he can lead you to a premature and needless death. Satan (or one of the countless fallen angels that follow him) will come along and tell you, “It really doesn’t matter. Mom and dad don’t know what they’re talking about! Did God really say that?” The serpent did this with the first Children of God, Adam and Eve. How much better would life be now had Adam listened to God his Father and not to a gossipy snake?
Ephesians 6:4 And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
I find it interesting that fathers are singled out by the Scripture to teach the children. Because of the so called “sexual revolution” and the “it’s my body and I can do what I want to” crowd there are a high number of both abortions as well as unplanned pregnancies. In many cases pregnant women have been abandoned by the father of that child, something that the Scripture and our Heavenly Father considers horrible. God our Father never abandons us, and so fathers should never abandon their children. Fathers are important to the training of the child. Dr. Edwin Louis Cole was the founder of the Christian Men’s Network, an organization devoted to helping Christian men and fathers. He said many years ago that:
“The lack of effective, functioning fathers is the root cause of America’s social, economic and spiritual crises.”
The world will tell you that men – and in particular, fathers, do not matter to the child. My simple answer is this. God is represented as a Heavenly Father. Just as our Heavenly Father is even handed and kind with us, we as men are to be contributing, even handed, and kind. Fathers are exhorted to:
provoke not your children to wrath:
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
The two words “nurture” and “admonition” tell us how men are to aid in the education of the child. The word “nurture” is the Greek παιδεία paideía, (pronounced pahee-di’-ah) which means to correct, shape, or instruct. As you teach the child, so will the adult be. The word “admonition” is the Greek νουθεσία nouthesía, (pronounced noo-thes-ee’-ah), which means “a mild rebuke or warning”.
Children need to express themselves, and they also need to be able to fail and get up again. As I heard someone once say:
“You don’t drown by falling in water. You drown by staying in it!”
That makes sense. When children fail they need to be corrected. I was invited to a basketball game at one of our Tennessee high schools one time, and watched one young man take the ball then shoot it. He missed the shot. His father was sitting not too far behind me, and that father stood up and started shouting and cursing at his son. May I say that is very bad parenting. Young people will fail. We love them, and train them in the Lord. One of my favorite scriptures is:
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Did you see that little two letter word UP. We as fathers are to train UP our children. Not cut then DOWN, but lift them UP. The promise of Scripture is that if you train your child UP, then one day (when he is old) what you planted will come forth (he will not depart from it).
What If I Don’t Have Any Children?
Some of you sat through this message barely paying attention to it. You thought, “I don’t have any children – so what is this to me?”. Every male in this Church has an obligation to encourage and help train the child. Whether you are the biological parent of the child or not, many children today desperately need good male influences.
I love to play a little game I call “imagining Heaven”. I like to think about Heaven. Think, with me, just a moment about Heaven. When we get to Heaven (if you’re going – not all are going. If you don’t love Jesus you’re not going) I believe when we first get to Heaven we’ll spend an eternity or two listening to and loving Jesus. I know I will. But after a few eternities I think I’m really looking forward to getting to know the old saints.
Imagine talking with Moses. I’d love to ask Moses how it felt when the death angel passed over his home. I’ll bet that was frightening. I’d love to hear Moses talk about the parting of the Red Sea, and how the people grumbled as they wandered through the desert for forty years.
Imagine talking to King David. I’d like to know how it felt to kill Goliath. I’d like to know what was in his mind when he disrespected Uriah … and I’d like to talk with Uriah for a little bit as well.
Imagine talking to Daniel, and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. I’d love to ask Daniel about the lion’s den. And I’d like to ask the three Hebrew children how it was to be tossed in the fire and find Jesus there, chilling out, maybe having a barbecue!
Can you imagine. We’ll get to talk with the Bible heroes, those who trusted Jesus. We’ll get to talk with the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, and Billy Graham. For eternities we’ll sit and hear stories as to how these great people – both men and women – changed the world.
Now imagine these great people – sinners all saved by the grace of God, by faith in the blessed Jesus Christ – imagine these people asking you what you did to change the world. Stephen, stoned to death for loving Jesus, looks at you and asks, “What did you do? How did you make your mark?” And Father Abraham. What will we tell him?
You see, we live in turbulent times. People have traded godly sexuality for ungodly sensuality. Children are murdered in the name of sexual revolution, and politicians are standing up, looking at cameras, and proudly saying “I support abortion all the way up to and even after the birth of that child”. Children are being taught that humans are no more than higher developed animals – evolved monkeys – and that morality does not matter. What will we do to make a difference?
Now imagine a young man coming to you in glory. Imagine him telling you that you took the time to love him when no one else would, and that because of you Heaven has another child. When you ask him why, he says “Because I saw Jesus in you. You loved me. You took the time to speak to me, to care for me. You helped feed me. Thank you”.
Beloved, it will be like another Heaven. Let us shine for Jesus!