Cherish Children (Ephesians 6:1-4)

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When you make coffee you need the coffee grounds, water, and a filter. The grounds and the water mix together to make coffee. But, without a filter the coffee will be undrinkable. Likewise, in parenting both the father and mother are equally important to work together, but without the filter of God’s word then parenting becomes unbearable and overwhelming.

The context of Ephesians 6

  • Eph 5:15 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise”
  • Eph 5:18 “be filled with the Spirit”
  • Eph 5:31-32 “husband and wife hold fast and becoming one flesh… [reflecting] Christ and the church”

 

So, Paul’s instructions about parenting have the context of having a wise, Spirit-filled, Christ-centered marriage. They key principle for

Christian parenting is implementing God’s authority with humility.

 

Prelude

  • I was in YM for 11 years and have 5 children under teen years. My views may have some value but they also have some limitations. I still have yet to experience first dates, driving lessons, proms, graduation, and college moving day, not to mention a few weddings likely.
  • God’s word has principles and power for our faith and life… and I’m very convicted how short I fall!
  • Perfect parenting is impossible. There is no exact science or strategy for raising good and godly children. There has only been one perfect parent – God – and even several of His children have rebelled. The Bible frequently shows dysfunctional families receiving God’s redemption. Likewise, today every parent and child is complex with unique dynamics and environments. So, there’s no silver bullet or full-proof plan for success, beyond the wisdom and grace of God.
  • Non-parents can follow the example of Jesus, who never had offspring but prospered many children
    (cf. Isa 53:10; Mark 10:29-30). While some may not have biological children, in Christ you can influence dozens and hundreds of spiritual children through actions like foster care, adoption, surrogate sibling/parent, hospitality to neighbors, opening yard for backyard Bible clubs, serving in the nursery, working in CM/YM, mentoring a young person in your vocational trade, or becoming a loving church supporter and family champion.

    • BTW: The last 2 weeks have been about husbands/wives. Some of you are unmarried/divorced/widowed and shared this series has been challenge for you. Know this:
      1) I pray for you to know God’s unique care and unconditional love, 2) Church family supports you,
      3) God has plan and purpose for you – what is it? Share your life and lessons with others.

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EXAMINE                       EPHESIANS 6:1-4       Cherish Children

We cherish children when we teach them to value authority.

1  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

First, we are to note that Paul addresses children in this letter. The letter would have been read among the entire faith community, and at this point the ears of children would become that much more attentive because they were being addressed by the Apostle Paul.

Some applications:

  • Churches should value children integrated (not isolated) in the faith community. Having age-segregated teaching and ministry environments are appropriate. Yet, there should also be opportunities for children to be with their parents and other adults to learn by example (often the issue) and listen to the word of God being explained as part of a greater body.
    Also means adults will need to sometimes tolerate a little noisier environment and perhaps even sacrifice their preferred music and teaching styles.
  • Churches should value high quality volunteers in CM, not view it as a low tier, pass the time childcare event. Give thanks to our CM/YM Volunteers.

Next, we note Paul exhorting parents to teach children to value authority. Authority is often not admired. We live in a world of #resist and #protest, thinking rebellion and anti-authority brings freedom. But rebellion towards God’s authority brings sorrow and suffering. A Christian principle is maximum freedom is found under God’s authority.[1] God’s authority establishes boundaries as a blessing not a burden. When we follow God’s standards we find joy (Ps 16:6, 11).

 

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.”

Two key words for authority are

  • obey (ὑπακούω) which means to listen under the command of someone
  • honor (τιμάω) which means to value and prize
    • In the 10 Commandments to honor parents the word is kābēd, which means to give weight or significance to something. Modern language has used the phrase, “He’s worth his weight in gold.” Gold is a heavy material, and the idea is that person is weighty because they’re important and valuable. Likewise, to honor parents is to assign the weight of your life priorities. The opposite would be to treat parents lightly and neglect their care and commands.
    • Further, with the command to honor parents in the 10 Commandments, it comes after the first four commands of glorifying God and having no idols. Therefore, parental authority comes from God’s authority; and to disrespect parental authority is to disobey God.
    • The role of parents is to be a living example of God’s authority in the child’s life so when they are ready they willingly submit to the Lordship of Jesus. Parents should teach authority with affection and love so children grow to understand God’s authority is a blessing. Many adults relate and submit to God’s authority like we did/do to our parents… let that sink in.
      • Parents should also realize the God who commands children to obey parents is the same God who tasks parents to require obedience in their children.[2] Do not enable delayed disobedience… counting 1-2-3, wait until dad gets home… To be clear, expecting obedience is not demanding perfection. Parents who require obedience of their children are loving and equipping the child for the best quality of life, not to mention perhaps breaking a multi-generational cycle of dysfunction if your parents didn’t expect obedience.
      • Parents, we must also recognize God commands obedience not so that we will be lovable but because he already loves us. Again, authority should be combined with affection. We should never communicate to a child their worth or our care for them is conditioned to their performance. The gospel of Jesus tells us we are loved by God not because of works but by grace, and it’s God’s grace that empowers us to a new way of living.
    • The Bible presents disobedience to parental authority as a mark of depravity (Deut 21:18-21; Mic 7:6; Rom 1:30; 2Tim 3:2) and doom (Prov 19:26; 20:20; 23:14; Mat 10:21; Lk 12:53). When children disobey authority there is a not only dysfunction in the child and family, but also a breakdown of society.
    • Honoring parents comes with a promise: 1) it may go well with you 2) live long in the land. A society where caring for the elderly parents is one that fears God and is faithful to leave a legacy. Imagine – elder parents fearless of death knowing children will care / that parents have raised child to voluntarily perform this task.

Not to undermine all that has been said, but we should also allow children to learn how to question authority. Questioning authority is not always improper, but when done the tone is always important. If the tone becomes arrogant or angry, then the child’s curiosity has shifted to defiance and must be confronted. However, questioning authority can be healthy to help a child learn decision-making and to think independently and methodically. Further, asking questions from supposed authorities can also guard against potential abuse situations. Parents may allow discussion about their commands or rules, but still follow through with a final decision and expectation toward obedience.

Authority = Discipline (formative & corrective). Proverbs 13:24 “the one who loves their child is diligent to discipline them.”[3]

 

4  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We cherish children when we teach them to value humility.

While Paul has shown extraordinary equality of the husband and wife, in contrast to the culture of the day, he does identify the design of a husband/father’s headship before the Lord. Like Adam was called to account of Eve’s actions in the Garden, fathers are called to account for the raising of children.

Paul’s command is unique in calling fathers not to provoke children to anger. Why anger? Why not:

  • don’t abuse/neglect children
  • don’t spoil them
  • don’t leave a bad example before them
  • don’t let them grow up without knowing the joys of eating pb&choc… just life essentials!

One could suggest Paul commands fathers not to provoke children to anger because that was the response of God’s children in the Garden of Eden.

  • Following Adam & Eve’s sin they raised a son Cain, who had anger issues (Gen 4:6). The sin of anger internalizes and metastasizes like cancer ravaging a body. Anger spreads through relationships, especially close family relationships, that results in bitterness and brokenness. Many have either grown up in a household of anger or have seen its devastation in others. For Adam & Eve, the sin of anger cost both their sons: one who was spiritually lost and another who was murdered.
  • Earlier Paul says, “be angry and do not sin” (Eph 4:26). Paul’s command here applies to parents in that we are to be righteously angry for the glory of God in our families, but not attacking people. One who can control their anger understands the wrath they’ve been spared and forgiven from God. The unrighteous angry person believes they are in the place of God in that moment. But for parents, our children do not belong to us, they are merely on loan to us from God.

    Therefore, the parenting aim in a child’s life is to help them see the priority of God’s glory not our pet peeves that make us blow steam or our faith witness.

 

Fathers/mothers don’t provoke children to anger and discouragement by exercising their authority w/ humility.[4]

  • Shift from hero parenting to hero pointing parenting.

Parents rightfully want to be the hero in their child’s life. But we cross the line when we present ourselves as the parent who hasn’t made mistakes or expecting perfection. Our children should be held to a high standard, but they become discouraged and angry if they are not praised when they succeed and loved when they fail.
Parents exercise authority with humility by confessing our sins and admitting our shortcomings. Our children learn to respect us more and see you as a hero who points to the greatest hero – Jesus Christ.
Further, our children need to see and hear about heroes beyond their parents. Your children need to see you putting others before self, and when you do they will prize who you promote. So, share with your children other godly examples to emulate, and watch how they follow in your footsteps.
à Each year, study a faith hero together as a family.[5]
à Ask child who their real life (non-celebrity) heroes are.

  • Shift from helicopter parenting to university hospital parenting.

Parents are well meaning to protect their child. However, a parent who is constantly hovering over their child’s every move and decision, whether young or old, is harming more than helping. You can do more damage to your child if you shelter them from experiencing problems and learning to overcome challenges.
Instead, parents must be more like the university hospital (UH). The UH employs the apprenticeship model with their staff of nurses and doctors to learn from more experienced. The master doctors and nurses prepare the apprentices through instruction, modeling, coaching, evaluating, and deploying them into practice. Parents must shift from being a hovering helicopter to a preparatory parent to release your child to stand on his/her own feet. Even more, the most important role you have is to prepare your child to stand before God alone, and to answer Him on basis of faith in Jesus Christ. God has no grandchildren.
à Minimize raving too easily, rescuing too quickly, risking too little.[6]
à Ask child’s talents and vocational dreams and network them with a Christian adult in that field.
à Experience a service project or mission trip with your child. If child is young, begin a savings account for child to afford an international mission trip.

Missions Trips > Disney Trips

The essential task of parents is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

  • Deuteronomy 6:7-8 “teach diligently… when you sit or walk, lie down or rise… bind on hands and heads”
    • Scheduled teaching
      • Church is the air war and the home is the ground war in the battle for the family.
    • Spontaneous teaching
      • Most of the best spiritual opportunities are on the go, so be ready.
        à Scripture memorization
  • Psalm 127 “like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children”
    • In biblical days there were no stores or factories that produced arrows. It was up to the warriors, primarily men, to create and craft arrows with precise care. The arrow point had to be sharp on one end and the other end – fletching – was for guidance. So too parents, must view their parenting as warriors sending children into battle. Two aspects of parenting is both coaching for a sharp & wise purpose of faith and correction to guide and discern the direction.
    • Ultimately, arrows were never created to stay in the quiver. Arrows were meant to fly and fight for the king’s army. Likewise, we must prepare our children to fight the fight of faith for the glory of God.
    • We are raising children to become adults and arrows in God’s hand.
  • Ephesians 6:4 “bring them up” ἐκτρέφω implies nourish to maturity and cherish, similarly to Eph 5:29.
    • Men, if you enjoyed the pleasure of procreation then you must enjoy the responsibility of raising that child.
      • Babies: Men should change diapers, read stories, crawl & play on floor, give bottles [at 2am], but you can draw the line at dressing the child silly clothes…
      • Elementary: Men should be involved with hw, taxiing, and discipline.
      • Teens: Men you should date your kids and have honest convos to prepare for world.
    • Parents are not called just to leave something “to” their children but to leave something “in” them.[7] When God’s mission captures our vision for parenting, we pursue more than behavior management for our children, but the heart of Jesus. Biblical parenting isn’t just about coercing behavior, but changing the heart.
    • Parenting is hard work because it’s heart work, which means we need help. Place your kids in God’s hands by praying for them.
  • Praying Hand
    – Thumb: Praiseworthy Character Traits
    – Pointer: Direction & Goals
    – Middle: Mentors in peers & elders
    – Ring: Future (vocation, relationships, etc.)
    – Pinky: Weakness into Spiritual Growth (struggles, challenges)

 

APPLY/THINK

HW

  • Parents, pray for and with your child every day this week.
  • Parents, identify one positive aspect of child and thank them specifically & generously.
  • Parents, commit to your child participating in our CM. God’s two gardens for growing children are the home and the church, and these two gardens must be prioritized or children are less likely to grow in faith. “Children need more than just a family that gives then unconditional acceptance and love, they need a tribe that gives them a sense of belonging and significance.” (Reggie Joiner, R2L p. 42) Your child will be a visitor somewhere but a member somewhere else.[8] They will imitate the people wherever they feel they belong. It’s parents job to make sure their children belong in the right communities.
    • Proverbs 13:20 “He who walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”

[1] Andy Stanely, 7 Checkpoints

[2] Thought from John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/parents-require-obedience-of-your-children

[3] Reasons to discipline children https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2015/02/08/why-parents-must-discipline-children/

[4] See more on righteous and unrighteous anger here: https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2016/02/23/seven-deadly-sins-angerwrath-proverbs/

[5] Some ideas from: 10 Who Changed The World by Daniel Akin, or The Swans Are Not Silent by John Piper, Christian Heroes Then and Now series by YWAM.

[6] Tim Elmore, 3 Mistakes Parents Make, https://growingleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/GL_3Mistakes_2014Update1.pdf

[7] J.D. Greear, Ready To Launch.

[8] Ibid.

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