¡°MAY LIFE GO WELL WITH YOU¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Ephesians 6:1-3 Parents Day 2014 June 15, 2014.
1) Thought-provoking questions: In his book, a Christian counselor asked some thought-provoking questions in the opening chapter. They go like this:
a) Do you truly believe that God loves you, that he looks out for you each and everyday, and has your best interest in his mind?
b) Do you truly believe that your parents love you to the best of their ability, always love you unselfishly, sincerely and will never change?
c) If you are married: Do you believe your spouse truly loves you and your relationship is sweet, harmonious, trustworthy and a real blessing?
d) If you have children: Do you have sweet relationship with them? Do they trust, respect and obey you? Do they share their thoughts with you?
e) If you hold a job: Do you like your job? Do you have smooth relationship with people at work? Is your job meaningful with good future?
f) If you are a Christian: Are you happy with your church, leaders and people in the church? Is your church and people benefited from your participation?
g) Finally about self: Are you happy with your life, job, marriage, family, goal of life, health condition, friendship, finance, spiritual and emotional?
2) Reasons for the questions: With his many years of counseling experience, he summarizes his observation in the following:
a) Most people are not happy in their answers to the above questions. Few are positive in their answers about people and things so close to their life. Very few are sure or positive in their answers to these questions. The root of most of their problems in life were found in the poor relationship of their parents in their childhood years: that didn't go well in the beginning.
b) The foundation of a happy life God lays out in the Bible is a blueprint for all people even in their early years of life: Children, obey your father and mother in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your parents, which is the first commandment with a promise: Your life will go well with you and you may enjoy long life on earth.¡± (Eph 6:1-3) We all agree that happy life in this ugly world is very hard to find, particularly by human efforts, but God provides us some guidelines to do just that:
SOME UNIQUE FICTURES OF THE COMMANDMENTS:
1) It was given by God Himself: ¡°And God spoke all these words.¡± (Exodus 20:1) This command here in Ephesians 6:1, was a direct quote from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:12 in which God spoke all the words himself. Most if not all laws given in the Old Testament were spoken through the lips of people like Moses or prophets, but not these words of the Ten Command-ments. Most Bible scholars divide these ten into two groups: laws related to God, and laws related to men. In the laws related to men, this is the first, related to parents and children. This tells us how important God sees it to have smooth relationship in the family between parents and children.
2) It was given only to children: ¡°Children, obey your parents in the Lord.¡± (6:1) Many of the laws in the O T were given to all the people to observe and obey. But there were laws given particularly to different groups of people such as master, servants, people with authority and people under authority, the rich and the poor, etc. This command was given in particular to children. God did that for a clear purpose: those fall into a specific group need to pay extra attention to that law. God also has given laws for parents on their duties and authorities, but here the law is for children. God is very detail in he dealing with us, each one of us. He sets guidelines for us to follow without ambiguity. Regardless how smart you think you are, or how much education you may have, God asks that you obey your parents.
3) It was given because it is right: ¡°Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because it is right.¡± (6:1b) ¡°Right¡±, dikaios in Greek, means more than just or righteous, it also means ¡°the correct path¡±, mostly used by sailors in the open sea. No one would dispute that what God says here is just and righteous for God is the ultimate standard of just and righteousness. The ¡°correct path¡± is easier and practical to understand if you were the skipper of a vast ship in the open see and all you have were a map and a compass. Everyone understand how important it is to follow the ¡°correct path¡± in steering your ship to where you want to go safely without trouble. God sees the progress of life as sailing a ship in the open sea, and he provides us that map and compass, and he asks that we follow ¡°that path¡± to arrive safely at the place he wants us to be, and that is by honoring and obeying our parents in the Lord.
DEEPER MEANING OF THE COMMANDMENT:
1) The basis of the commandment: ¡°Children, obey your parents in the Lord.¡± (6:1) There are two important basis in this phrase, ¡°in the Lord.¡± The first part is about the authority of parents that children need to obey, because they need to do as the Lord has instructed them to do: obey your parents because that is what the Lord wants you to do. In this, obeying parents is the same as obeying the Lord, or vice-verso. The second part in this phrase is children need to obey their parents when they teach them according to the teaching of the Lord. This puts it squarely on the shoulders of parents to be acquainted with the teaching of the Lord so they can teach their children to obey. In the OT, there are many listings God requires parents to teach their children about God and the importance of obeying Him. Either on the authority or the matter material of parental teaching, children need to obey them as they obey God.
2) The focus of the commandment: ¡°Children, obey your parents.¡± (6:1) The word ¡°obey¡±, hupakouo, from hupo, under, and akouw, to listen, to pay high attention. This easily render the meaning of ¡°obey¡± as ¡°listen attentively to what you are told by your parents.¡± Without a listening ear with attention, it is impossible to obey anyone or anything. This could be applied in your attitude to God, to your superior at work, your teacher at school or anyone who has the position of superiority over you, because you need to listen as in under or lower position with respect. It is more than just listen, but listen humbly to the superior. Many of the problems in our world, from home to school, from work place to politics, all have the root problem: the ¡°under¡± class do not respect their under class, and they do not respect those in upper class who has the authority over them.
3) The commandment with a promise: ¡°Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise.¡± (6:2) God is fair and just. Usually he spells out the consequences of obeying or disobeying his commandment, mostly in the Pentateuch by Moses. Among all the commandments with his promises, this is the first both in chronological sequence and in importance. God gives a promise of blessing not to bribe his people of obeying his law, he gives promise of blessing to show them the result they could expect to reap. God wants us to know that there are consequence on our choices and actions. He wants us to see or think of the consequences of our decision before we make the decision. He wants to bless us beyond our imagination and he puts out some simple guidelines for us to follow and arrive in his blessings.
WHY DON'T CHILDREN OBEY PARENTS? No one may know or list all the reasons why don't children listen to their parents, not just children of today but also children throughout history. Let me list a few from my own experience and observation:
1) It all sprouts from pride: ¡°A fool spurns his father's discipline, and a foolish man despises his mother.¡± (Proverbs 15:5, 20) Although pride is not a modern day problem, it is the first reason many children don't listen, much less obey their parents. With the rapid growth of education and technology, most children have much more knowledge than their parents in many ways. This suppose a blessing for young people, instead, pride in children becomes a curse to many of them. Their pride stops them from respecting their parents, and by extension, not respect their teachings. Sociologists, educators and others, all can see the devastating breakdown of the society and family by rebellious, prideful young people. Drug abuse, teen pregnancy, crime of all kind, destructive way to live their lives, violence and poverty, just to list a few, all come from the roots of pride in young people. They won't listen to anyone with authority, parents are the first they oppose.
2) They think they know it all: ¡°Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him.¡± (Prov. 3:5-6) Most proud and rebellious children are those who don't trust parents, that they know better than they do. They don't trust the love, wisdom and good will of parents. Some of them don't even trust God knows better, can do more than they can. Some do trust their peers but most of them can only lead them stray away from the right path in the Bible or the moral norms of the society. This kind of not trust parents could break their future in career and in marriage. Childhood rebellion can destroy lives all into their adult years.
3) They lack the sense of appreciation: ¡°Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.¡± (1 Thess. 5:18) Many parents of teenage children will understand the pain and frustration of raising ungrateful children; they never feel grateful for all the sacrifices parents have done for them. Their sense of ¡°entitlement¡± drives nuts out of many parents. No matter how much you have done, how hard you have tried to make their life better than yours when you were in their age, they never show appreciation and still feel you haven't done enough for them. This ungrateful attitude certainly hurts their relationship their parents and later with marriage and family, classmates, coworkers, superiors, society and anyone work or live with them.
APPLICATIONS: Claiming God's promises:
1) Life may go well with you: This is about the quality of life you may have when you obey and honor your parents. This quality has nothing or little to do with worldly standards or resources, but with all the blessings of the Lord in your life, your family and all things related to your life. This may mean joy and peace, harmony and good relationship. When we practice obedience and honor to parents and all others with authority, we eliminate many troubles of life arrogant people have. When humility comes to our heart and mind to help us being obedient and honoring, chances of conflict would greatly reduced and life comes with smooth sailing and sweet results.
2) You may live long on earth: This is the way God shows his blessing and grace to those who listen to him and obey his commands. In the O T time, long life symbolizes blessings of God and riches on earth. Long life is also a sign of being righteous in one's personal life as well as a blessing to others. On the other hand, short life or untimely death usually means stricken by evil as a penalty of evil doing. Although living long years may not be a symbol of blessing today, it still carried the idea of God's rich blessing on those who will obey and honor their parents in the Lord.