Spirit Filled Marriages
There is a show some of you may know called undercover boss. The theme of it is bosses of big organizations dress up like ordinary people and go to work with the employees of their organization. The millionaire bosses would get to know the ground level employees. It typically ends with them doing something extraordinarily kind to one of the employees at the end. Meeting the needs of people, paying for medical bills, a kid's tuition, promoting them because of their great work. It can be very touching. The employees were always shocked to find out the new summer intern they had to train was actually the CEO or owner of the company.
Typically the bosses worked with steller employees and the reveal at the end was very uplifting. But sometimes the reveal of their true identity was unnerving to the bad workers. Imagine if the CEO, the person with power to exalt or ruin your career, was unknowingly working right next to you. How might you treat your coworkers, the people under you, how might you obey your immediate boss. It changes our attitude and dispositions when we know that.
We are in the book of Ephesians and continue in a section that talks about being under the authority of others. 5:21 tell us being filled with the spirit looks like singing, sharing, and submitting to others. This plays out in husbands and wives and now we look at a couple other key roles in the family and in society.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. (Ephesians 6:1-9 ESV)
Authority in the Family
Children are told to obey their parents. Most know the fifth commandment to “honor your father and mother.” That command is repeated here in the New Testament. A lot of people today are saying today that there is no connection between the OT and the NT. This passage shows that is not a true dichotomy. There is a distinction in the two covenants, and there are differences, some things pass away, but some things remain. Children are to continue honoring their father and mother.
The command is to honor. But here children are told to obey. That makes it clear when your kids do not obey you they are not honoring you. It should be self evident but its not. Too many parents today do not teach their kids to obey. Parents don’t require their kids to obey. That is a mistake.
Several roles in society where obedience is key. To lead well you need to learn to obey others. They are going to be adults that don’t know how to submit to authority: marriage, work, life. You don’t always get what you want.
Kids need to obey your parents. Parents, you are to teach your kids to obey. Don’t expect your kids to just know what to do and to have the desire to do it. This is why parents are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Parents, you have to be active in the lives of your kids. You cannot outsource the parenting of your kids. Kid controlled society.
Don’t think that sending them to a good school is your parental duty. That may be a part of it but you are to be active in forming them, discipling them, teaching them right and wrong. Own your job. It is the responsibility of mothers and fathers to teach this. It’s your job. Own it. Do it. Spend time with your kids. Teach them.
(this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." There are practical benefits to kids obeying parents. Don’t touch the outlet. Don’t ever load your plate with the first items in a buffet line. Don’t ever turn down a trip to the store with Grammy. But we also know the greater blessing is walking with the Lord, and that has eternal ramifications.
Kids need to learn obedience, but parents being in authority have to teach them in the right way. Don’t be passive. Don’t be too aggressive. Parents have to honor the Lord too in how they raise and instruct.
Accountable: 4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,”
Active: “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Instruction. paidei,a, aj, h` (1) active, of rearing and guiding a child toward maturity training, instruction, discipline (HE 12.11); as including Christian discipline and instruction. It is the positive development.
teaching: admonition, warning, ethical and corrective instruction in regard to belief or behavior. Its not just beliefs but it is what you do. It's one thing to believe you should love others. It's another to tell them “Looking a person in the eye, saying hello, shaking their hand, asking them how they are that is a way you can love others.” George Washington “Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect, to those that are present.”
What are you instructing your kids in right now. What Bible passages are you applying in their lives. Instruction is the positive shaping of their hearts, and minds and hands.
Discipline is the correction of kids. Positive reinforcement is essential, but at some point you have to come down and say you cannot do that and if you do, there are consequences. That is a key expression of authority. Have a range of things to discipline your kids. Enforce rules in the house. Proverbs says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. (Pro 23:13 ESV).” I have found good fruit in appropriate means of spanking. When kids are younger they need to learn they are under your authority. When a young child goes to put his finger in the electrical outlets reasoning with him does not work very well. You spank his hand and he gets it. Understand what discipline is appropriate for their age and crime. The spanking technique does not work with a thirteen year old. Know you child.
The goal is for kids to do what is right, v1. Part of teaching them to do right is parents doing it yourself.
Parents teach their kids obedience as one who is themselves under obedience.
Don’t exasperate. Parenting is about God working in you as much as he is working in your kids. You cannot fix every issue in your kids life. You are not their savior. You cannot make excuses for not being faithful as a parent. God does not correct you for your every mistake, but he is also faithful to bring about change in your life. Do the same with your kids.
As a dad, I think it is part of our calling to push our kids. I think mothers generally comfort them more. I think the balance is good. Both parents should be firm and loving, but one may lean to one side or the other. Talk through that with your wife. Appreciate the other’s perspective. Where you agree focus on those. When you disagree then hold those issues lighter.
But there can be a tendency for fathers to be harsh. There are times you can bring some righteous anger. When someone decides to put his bb gun target on top of the glass patio furniture and the bb’s shatter it, its appropriate to show a little emotion. But don’t embitter them. Are you angry because you have been inconvenienced or because you want to help them grow? What do you emotions convey is most important to you: that think or your kids development? Are you using your anger to tear them down or build them up? I have noticed a change where I have moved from wanting to instruct and instead are trying to make them feel the weight of their wrong, and it is more me trying to wound them for what they have done. That is not godly parenting. When you do that go to your kids and confess your sin. Instruct them don’t wound them.
Model. We are image bearers. We reflect who we are around. Spend time with the Lord and in His word you will begin to look like that. You neglect it and you will look like what you are around. Your kids will reflect what they see in the home. I see parents whose kids struggle with anger and it looks just like the way their parents treat them. Model firmness. Our God is a God of justice. Don’t let wrongs go uncorrected. Model grace. Love your kids and help them to know you love them.
Do you ever hear your kids say something is stupid and doesn’t want to do that, and you think that is disrespectful, but then something happens to you and you say well that is stupid and I m not doing that. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Robert Murray McCheyne famously said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.”
The greatest thing those in authority give to those under their authority is their own personal holiness. Parents who tell kids not to watch bad movies and then go and watch them. Don’t want their kids to curse or maybe get drunk, but then they give in to those. Kids see the hypocrisy.
One of the greatest things you can do as a parent is to confess your own sins and mistakes to them and others. Self righteousness will not allow us to confess our sins and that is modeling for your kids that others need Jesus but not me. Your kids don’t need perfect parents. What they most need is parents who know their need for Jesus, and that their love for Jesus will not let them overlook faults in the lives of their kids and in their selves.
Authority in Society
This section addresses slaves. I want to make a few comments about slavery in ancient Rome. Slavery in Rome was a lowly position but it was different than American slavery. Here are a few things to understand.
It was degrading. Slaves did not work for themselves but for their owners, their masters.
“The servants whom he immediately address were not hired servants like those of the present day, but slaves, such as were in ancient times, whose slavery was perpetual, unless through the favor of their masters, they obtained freedom-- whom their masters bought with money, that they might impose upon them the most degrading employments, and might, with full protection of the law, exercise over them the power of life and death. John Calvin
It was common. It is estimated that about ⅓ of the roman population was a slave. Slavery was not racial and it was not always lifelong.
“They did not merely do menial work: they did nearly all work, including oversight and management in most profession. Some slaves were more educated than their owners. They could own property, even slaves, and were allowed to save money to buy freedom. No slave class existed, for slaves were present in all but the highest of economic and social strata. Many gained their freedom.” Snodgrass.
People became slaves in various ways. Race was not one of those. So it was different.
“People became slaves through various avenues: birth, parental selling or abandonment, captivity, war, inability to pay debts, and voluntary attempts to better one’s condition. Race was not a factor.” Snodgrass.
This is the lowest position in society. Some are surprised or even appalled slaves are not told to demand their release (if slaves can gain their freedom then they should” (1 Cor 7:21). We will see that Paul lays the groundwork here that would eventually lead to the demise of slavery in Rome.
Paul addresses this lowest rung of society to say their work and their life still matters. They matter. And they need to honor the Lord. This passage calls them to obey their earthly lords as though it were their heavenly Lord through them. That is a staggering command. Obey their words as though you were serving Jesus! He is right next to you seeing it all.
Not with “eye service.” Literally optomalodoulian. Optomal doulian
So many eye servants. ONly concerned with looking good on the outside, putting up appearance. Eye service is hypocrisy and duplicity. It is lying to people. You are going to find that people will not trust you. They will see through it at some point. God sees through it immediately.
God calls us to do everything as though serving him. Part of the reason the Christian can submit to less than ideal situations is because we believe God will reward us accordingly. He knows what we do. We want to serve him, love him, and even the most deplorable situation is an opportunity to bring him glory. They will receive back from the Lord” (Eph 6:8 ESV)
When labor involves drudgery, when hardship is oppressive, when the conditions imposed upon us are not those which mercy and justice would dictate, when we are tempted to individual and organized revolt, when we are ready to recompense evil on the part of our master with the evil of careless work on our part, it is just then that we need to be reminded, “whatsoever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you shall receive the recompense of the inheritance.”
If slaves are addressed here as the lowest order of society, and if they can honor God and are to honor God, then no matter how menial a task you may have to do, this is what you are to do and how you are to handle it.
This passage on slaves also addresses masters. This is where we see a powerful attack on the institution of slavery. Masters are to treat their slaves with an eye to having their own master in heaven.
This text shows that the slave owner has a master too.
The slave master too will give an account.
The slave master too must look to God for their ultimate reward.
The slave master too must obey from the heart.
9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, “treat them as people”. This is your neighbor. Your are to do to them as you would have them do to you. If you want to ruin the basis for slavery it is right there: do to others as you would have them do to you. It is a far deeper command than just let them go. People may be free but you still treat them badly. You will give an account of how you treat others. Their creator is your creator. Their judge is your judge. There is no partiality.
When you have success it is easy to treat others poorly. You think you have earned it and done better than those below you. You think they are not as good as you. That is a wrong way to view the situation. The slave master has much more in common with the slave than the initial impression gives. Do you look down on people in other neighborhoods, others sides of the track?
Masters are just as accountable as slaves. They are not exempt from how they treat others. You need to live like your boss is right next to you and will give an account. Are you treating others as you would want to be treated in their position? Do you look on the lowest rung of society with that attitude?
When labor involves joy, when success is everywhere, when conditions granted to you are bountiful and convenient, when you are tempted to swell with pride and treat others as insignificant and tell them they are not as important, not as good as you, and that your success comes from your greatness, remember that you have a master in heaven and He will judge you.
We in Alpharetta have much materialism. Will we use our materialism to bless others?
What would the Lord say of your living under the authority of others and your authority over others? Are you looking to the Lord first and foremost for your reward and your guidance? When things press down or people ask you to do things you can’t or don’t want to do, do you show compliance or faithfulness? Do you show an attitude that says I want to serve the one who is above you? Does your authority over others show that you are submitted to God and that He is the one who rules over you?