Monday, June 18, 2007

The Great Relationship

When it comes to family, I do not believe there is much greater of a relationship than that between a father and his children. After all, this is the analogy used by God to describe our relationship with Him. We are His children. Paul has very clear words in Ephesians 6:1-4 to both children and fathers when it comes to this great relationship.

He begins by addressing the children. He uses the word “tkenah” which refers to all kids, not just small children. Though this does not apply to married children (see Ephesians 5:31), it does involve all children still under their parent’s roof and/or authority. Children are called upon to obey their parents. The word “obey” literally means “to hear under.” It is the idea of listening with attentiveness and responding positively. This is to be done “in the Lord.” Obeying parents is a reflection of our obedience to the Lord. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:20 that obeying parents pleases the Lord.

But not only are children to obey their parents, they are also to honor them. The word “honor” speaks of valuing highly or holding in the highest regard. In the Old Testament the Ten Commandments were divided in two groups. The first five commandments dealt with our relationship with God. The next five commandments dealt with our relationship with others. Honoring parents was the first of the final half of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) dealing with human relationships. Honoring our parents is not just something for kids and teens. This also involves providing for them when they no longer can provide for themselves (Matthew 15:3-6; 1 Timothy 5:4). Though marriage changes the scope of our obedience to our parents, it doesn’t change our responsibility to honor them.

Why is this such an important command? There are two reasons. First, it is right. In other words, it is just. It is exactly as it should be. Secondly, it is rewarded. This involves both quality and quantity. God blesses those who obey and honor their parents. And the truth is that disobedience of parents can cut short a person’s life.

But Paul also gives instructions to fathers. In the Roman world, the father was far more likely to provoke his children to anger. It was the father who had life and death power over their children. He could cast them out, sell them or even kill them. Paul begins by giving fathers a prohibition. Fathers are commanded to not provoke their children to anger. This speaks of a repeated pattern of treatment gradually producing a deep-seated resentment boiling over to hostility (Colossians 3:21). In tomorrow’s blog entry I will give you a very convicting list of how parents often provoke their children’s to anger.

Instead, the father is to be sure to bring his children up in both the discipline and the nurture of the Lord. The word “discipline” speaks of correction in wrongdoing. It is when we teach our children what they are doing wrong. The “nurture” of the Lord literally means “putting in mind.” It is the idea of correction in right living. It is not enough to tell our kids what they are doing wrong. We must also show them how to do what is right. Fathers who fulfill this important role are worthy of their children’s honor.

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