Ephesians 6: 1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’– which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE
Over the past two weeks we have looked at our purpose asking, ‘Why are we here?’ and then at marriage asking, ‘Who will we fulfill our purpose with?’ This week we are thinking about family relationships. We need to think about family in two different contexts.
The first is with Ephesians 5:21 in mind: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
As disciples we surrender all that we are and all that we have to King Jesus. It’s exactly the same with our families. We lay our lives down for others in response to all that God has done for us.
The second context is wider than our immediate families. We are called to be fathers and mothers in our city. We lovingly, yet confidently, carry Kingdom authority into our workplaces, classrooms, shops and streets.
As the church, we are a family of brothers and sisters. Rather than fighting for significance we use our delegated authority to effect transformation.
We all have family, we grew up in one and we may be growing one ourselves. As with every family, there are probably things we love dearly while other aspects of family life are difficult and more challenging. We tend to assume that what we grew up with is normal for everyone, when actually that may not be the case. Every family has a unique culture, ways of relating and behaving, which may be totally different to how you were raised.
The old saying, ‘you can choose friends but not your family’ is true with one notable exception. In Ephesians 1, Paul writes this:
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (vv. 4-5 NLT)
God made a choice when He adopted us into His family. He brought us in because of desire not necessity or by accident. He dearly wanted us as His children. You can get pregnant by mistake but you don’t adopt by mistake. It is absolutely intentional.
Every family has some frustrations and tensions. We tend to think, “If only they would see things my way, then this would all be sorted out.” However, the other person is probably thinking exactly the same thing. We hold positions because we think they are right or they are best for us. However, every family needs mutual submission and Godly surrender to succeed.
As children we tend to think that the whole world revolves around us and that the purpose of family is to serve our needs. A child’s attitude is: “If I'm happy, everyone is happy.” We carry that into adulthood. However, as we submit out of reverence for Christ, we realise this this isn’t all about ‘me’ but ‘we’. The primary role of our families is not to raise us up but to leverage our power to raise others up.
Paul quotes the command that we should honour our fathers and mothers. For some of us that will be easier than for others. Some people had parents who wounded them, perhaps they were overly harsh, unavailable or unkind. If that was the case, as children we often make promises that we’ll do things differently in our own families. However, if our hearts are full of hurt and dishonour, we are likely to repeat the same things. We will carry that pain wherever we go and it ultimately catches up with us.
They alternative is to engage in forgiveness, even if the other person doesn’t deserve it. Your own family today do deserve it and they are the ones who will pay for your bitterness and resentment.
Paul goes on to say that fathers should not exasperate their children. Dads are so vitally important in what they speak over their children. Their job is to engage and encourage their kids. It is also about being a father to others, investing in the lives of those we want to see grow and flourish in all of life.
Paradoxically as parents we constantly tell our children to be careful and yet we want adults to take more risks. When we parent out of purpose instead of prevention we begin to change the destiny of our children. They learn to change culture instead of merely surviving it.
Purpose doesn’t simply react to a child’s behaviour but seeks to dig deeper to the essence of what caused it and calls out the underlying positive potential. Kids often live up to expectations set for them in family.
We should pray that God would reveal the purpose He has for our families. We have the ability to draw a line in any negative family history and begin to see new generations experience a different destiny.