Wait on the Lord…
Wait on the Lord…
Children, Parents, Fathers
Text: Ephesians 6:1-4
Main Point: Christian, do all things with and for Jesus.
Celebrating Milestones- As a church, we celebrate milestones with children. There is the time of blessing during pregnancy, the church and family covenant soon after the child is born, the first Sunday a three year old moves out of the nursery, the first Sunday a six year old moves out of children’s worship, and then baptism. The Word of God is the center piece in all these celebrations. Today, we are giving our three-year-olds a copy of the Gospel Story Book Bible and we are giving our six-year-olds a copy of the ESV Children’s Bible. We focus on the Word because the Bible points us to Jesus and life in his name.
Moms and Dads, this is the point in the sermon when you want to get your child’s attention, point at the Bible, and have them follow along with their eyes. Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Children, the right thing to do is listen to your parents and follow their instructions.
Now, let’s think like a child and ask the age-old question, “Why?”. Why should a child obey his mom? Why should a child obey her dad? Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. God set up this world so that children are raised by parents and not by themselves and not by the government and not by their peers and not by a pack of wolves. It is right, good, and excellent for children to have parents and for parents to teach their children how to avoid what is bad and embrace what is good.
In every age this point needs to be clear, obedience is right. Obedience glorifies God. Children, you glorify God when you obey your parents. Parents exercising their authority and passing on their wisdom for the good of their children is God’s wise plan. So parents,
Notice the qualification in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Basically, this means children obey your parents as long as their instructions are not sinful. Obedience in the Lord is not less than “do what they command that is not sin,” but obedience in the Lord is gloriously more.
The great blessing of what it means to be in the Lord, joined to the Lord, or to abide in Christ runs all throughout the Letter to the Ephesians. I have time today to only give you what I think are the two most significant truths that empower obedience in children, parents, and fathers.
Turn back a page or two to Ephesians 4:20, Ephesians 4:20-24, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
My point is this, these children who are a part of the church in Ephesus and are being challenged to obey their parents in the Lord, are the same children who have just been told to remember the power and love and righteousness of Christ. Remember that you children, who are Christians, have put off the old self, have been renewed in the spirit of your minds, and have put on the new self that looks like Jesus. You have Jesus who is the power you need to obey.
Obey your parents in the Lord is so much more than do everything they command that is not sin. Obey your parents in the Lord is obeying according to the power that is yours in Christ Jesus. Children, Jesus has the power you need to obey the commands your parents give. Remember how you learned to trust Christ with your sin? Now it’s time to trust Christ with your obedience.
Here’s my second passage, and quickly, Ephesians 6:10, which is the other side of Ephesians 6:1, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Where do parents get the strength to live honorable lives? They get their strength from depending on Christ. Where do fathers get their strength to bring up their children? They get their strength from depending on Christ. Where do children get their strength to obey their parents? They get their strength from depending on Christ.
Now, parents, it is your job to teach your child how to obey in the Lord. Giving instructions is not enough. Correcting and disciplining are not enough. Give your child instructions and teach your child how to obey in the Lord. We are called to teach our children to pray unto obedience, repent in cases of disobedience, and endure when obedience is costly and painful. Expecting obedience without teaching obedience is the epitome of foolishness, yet we parents do it all the time. Parents are called to a higher level.
Here we go again. Parents, get that finger out and point your child to Ephesians 6:2, “Honor your father and your mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
Do not shame your father and mother, honor your father and mother. Here’s our question again, Why should I honor my father and my mother? Verse 3, so that it will go well with you. Teenagers, it is possible that one of the reasons you are so frustrated and angry in life is because you refuse to honor your father and your mother. God is judging you because you are refusing to honor your father or mother. Same goes for parents, one of the reasons you may be so frustrated and angry in life is because you refuse to disciple your child. Rebellion is hard no matter how old you are.
And verse 3 is good encouragement. Verse 3 is the proverbial wisdom of God; the place of blessing is submission to godly authority. God will not bless the student who dishonors his parents. God blesses those who listen to him. Parents submit to godly authority and honor their heavenly Father. Children submit to godly authority and honor their earthly parents.
Here is the call to a higher level
It is repulsive to everyone when we parents expect our children to obey us and honor us while we disobey and dishonor our heavenly Father. That’s not how you learned Christ! Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put off the old self, follow the renewed mind, and put on the new self. Mom and dad, you have been filled with Christ, walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Eph 4:1). Parents, we must obey Christ while we call our children to obey us. Let us be found living lives at work, in the church, and in the community that are worthy of honor while we call our children to honor us.
Christian parents, do everything you possibly can to make it easier for your child to show you honor. Husbands, do everything you possibly can to make it easier for your wife to submit to you. Employers, do everything you possibly can to make it easier for your employees to submit to you. Parents, do everything you possibly can to make it easier for your children to obey you.
Now, let’s focus on dads for a while because Ephesians 6:4 focuses on dads
Look at Ephesians 6:4 with me, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Simply put,
There is a negative and a positive in this verse; don’t do this and do that. Don’t provoke your children to anger. Anger is a big deal and Paul deals with it first in the end of Ephesians 4. Put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander from you, along with all malice. Fathers, think about the way you talk about your wife. Think about the way you talk about your boss or your business. Are you teaching your children how to be angry? Men, if we are proud and rebellious against the authorities in our lives we should not be surprised when our children are proud and rebellious towards us. If you treat your boss like he is an idiot, then your children will likely treat you like you are an idiot. We are teaching our children to obey something. Are we teaching our children to obey their self-promoting self-exalting plans, or are we teaching them to follow Jesus?
As I studied this week, it appears that the most common way fathers provoke their children to anger is by being tyrannical. Andrew Lincoln explains, “[We must avoid] attitudes, words, and actions which would drive a child to angry exasperation or resentment and this rules out excessively severe discipline, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, arbitrariness, unfairness, constant nagging and condemnation, subjecting a child to humiliation, and all forms of gross insensitivity to a child’s needs and sensibilities” (406). Men, we must be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might so that we know our children and do not tempt them to anger.
The two most common ways I provoke my children to anger is by assuming they have done wrong when they have not and by punishing them for disobeying me when I have not first taught them how to obey me. Children need parents, not simply a list of rules. Look at the positive in verse 4, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Dads, raising the children is not their mother’s job. Raising children is our job. The mindset that says a man works outside the home, but not inside the home, is wildly unbiblical. Paul knows the word for parents, he used it in verse 1. Paul also knows the words for father and mother, he used those words in verse 2. So, it is no mistake when we read, “Fathers…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Dad, your child is your responsibility.
Let me try to put this in words that may resonate with you. Dad, if you are into Star Wars movies then Ephesians 6:4 tells you that you are the Jedi-master and your child is your padawan. If you are a craftsman, then Ephesians 6:4 tells you that your child is your apprentice. In grade school, children are helpers. In junior high, children are journeymen. At high school graduation, our children should be ready to take the test to receive master status.
Fathers, our calling is to discipline and instruct our children so they can live the Christian life. Our goal is not simply to keep our children out of trouble. Our goal is to help our children walk through all of life strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Our calling is to teach, encourage, and correct our children so that they know what it means to follow Jesus in all of life.
The world is full of men who can bring home the bacon. May the church be full of men who live out what it means to follow Jesus.
There is not a dad in this room who does not have regrets. Last week, from Acts 3:19-20, we saw that the best thing we can do when we see our sin is to repent. Fathers, let’s lead the way for our wives and children by repenting and turning to the Lord. There is sufficient grace for you. If the Jerusalem Jews could be forgiven for denying and crucifying their Messiah, then we can be forgiven for provoking our children to anger. Mothers, have you been less than honorable? Repentance is refreshing; there is strength for you to change. Students, have you been living a life that dishonors your parents? Have you obeyed with your lips but gone out of your parents’ sight and disobeyed? There is grace for you. Repent and believe the gospel. Trust the righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus. Jesus loves the little children and the old men. He will forgive you.
The first piece of advice is to repent. Here’s the second
Have you picked up on my sinister scheme to take over families? At baby dedication those families get a copy of the Big Picture Story Bible. At nursery graduation those families get a copy of the Gospel Story Book Bible. At graduation out of children’s worship those families get a copy of the Bible. Parents, start early reading the bible every day with your child. The younger the better, read the bible every night before putting your child to bed. Make the Word of God a normal part of your life as a family.
If you have older children, if you have teenagers, it’s not too late to start. Be creative, find ways to get into the bible with your son or daughter. Read a Psalm before bed, read through a gospel one chapter a day when you get in the car after school. Ask other parents what they do. Find what is best for your student and give him/her the word of God. And the last piece of advice for today
Strive to be a man or woman who is worthy of honor and obedience. Avoid being a nag. Don’t be impossible to please. Your heavenly Father is not impossible to please. Who do you think you are? Give your child, and yourself, some grace and live a life of Christ-dependent obedience. With the help of your church family, model obedience and teach obedience. Talk to your children about why you failed. Talk to your children about how to pray and endure. Teach them how to think about turning from sin and turning to Christ. Then require Christ-dependent obedience.
Godly parents teach and require obedience. Too many parents are teaching their children how to disobey the Lord by teaching their children it is ok to disobey their parent’s instructions. You are teaching your child to obey something. Are you teaching your child to obey good authority or are you teaching your child to obey their own deceitful desires? A child who tells his parents “no” is a child who will more easily tell God “no.” Avoid excessively severe discipline, but you must discipline. Avoid unreasonably harsh demands, but make good demands. Avoid abuse of authority, but use your authority for good. As you teach, encourage, and correct, be fair, consistent, and honorable. A hard or tyrannical father will wrongly teach his children that God is hard and tyrannical. We parents represent God before our children in the same sense that husbands represent Christ before their wives. Marriage and parenting are awesome callings full of glory and danger.
As I look out at this church and these families, I want to sober us, and I want to invigorate us. As we close, listen to the power and hope of Ephesians 1:15-22. We pastors feel the same for you.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Let us repent and trust Jesus. As children, parents, and fathers, let us look to God who has immeasurably great power for us.
It’ll be great, they say. You’ll love it, they say. You’ll be free and empowered. The next thing you know, you’re stuck in a gas pump wondering how in the world you’re going to get out.
Reading the Letter of Jude would lead us to think the religious leaders, who are severely condemned, must have done something heinous. Tom Schreiner explains their sin, “The false teachers were not joyous and loving but critical and quick to detect the weaknesses of others” (473). Jude 16 calls them grumblers and malcontents, faultfinders.
That sobers me up. When I think about my fellow church members, do I lead with love and joy or with a critical eye? Do I first find reasons to rejoice in them or do I begin by finding reasons to grumble about them? Yes, we must correct and admonish, rebuke and discipline. But a member who is always finding the fault in Christ’s church may easily become an ungodly person uttering blasphemies against Christ himself. It happened in Jude’s day. Why not today?