“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” Ephesians 6:1-9.
A new heart and a new mind along with a new submission to Christ as Lord of your life will help bring about spiritual harmony. It begins in the lives of Christians who submit themselves to the Lordship of Christ. In this passage Paul instructs four groups of people: children, parents, servants and masters.
Paul begins with children (vs. 1-3). First of all they are Christians because they are “in the Lord”. This goes along with the theme of Ephesians: Walking in Unity. When we walk in unity, “in the Lord”, with one another we are being obedient. Secondly, obedience is right. When God ordained the world He put in an order of nature. This rightness is evidence of His Supreme authority over the earth. We were created too, to be obedient to our heavenly Father. “A modern translation of Ephesians 6:1 would be “Parents, obey your children, for this will keep them happy and bring peace to the home.” But this is contrary to God’s order in nature” Wiersbe, Be Rich! Obedience is commanded (vs.2) and is reinforced by quoting the Fifth Commandment. There is also a blessing for children who are obedient: “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (vs.3). Disobedience to parents is a rebellion against God and the results can be seen in many homes around the world.
Paul then addresses the parents; fathers specifically because they are “head of the household” (Eph. 5:23). Paul gives father’s specific instructions on dealing with their children. First, he is not to provoke them. The opposite of provoke is encourage. Father’s should instead encourage their children and accept them for who they are in God’s eyes and not abuse them with their authority. Fathers must also be nurturers. I believe Paul was directly speaking to the Fathers at this time because mothers, by nature, are nurturers. It is not enough to physically nurture their children by providing food, shelter and clothing. Paul wanted fathers to nurture their children emotionally and spiritually as well. This allows for balanced and well nurtured growth intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Fathers must discipline and instruct their children while encouraging them in the Lord. Consistent, loving discipline gives assurance to children. Assurance so many children desperately seek. Children may not always agree with our counsel and disciplinary actions but that should not stop us as parents from our obligations to train them up in the Lord.
Paul proceeds to address Christian servants. Undoubtedly, Paul is talking about Christian slaves but this applies today to Christian employees. We are not to be obedient merely when the boss is watching but always because God is always watching and judging our actions. Christian employees should be first serving the Lord. The second thing they should be responsible for is doing a good job all the time because this is the will of God. A Christian should perform all their works as “unto the Lord”. We do not serve man but God! Employees walking in obedience to the Lord will receive a reward. It might not be on this side of heaven but a reward is coming to the faithful and obedient!
Finally, Paul addresses the masters or employers. Servant and master, employee and employer are serving the Lord so they may please Him. Employers must seek their employee’s welfare. He must also not threaten them (vs. 9). Instead, the employer should encourage his workers to do what is right and noble. Encouraging obedience is always better than threats of punishment and yields better results. The Christian employer is also subject to the Lord and should not play favorites just as God does not play favorites with His people. God is no respecter of persons and neither should the employer be. Just as God judges the employee and the employer so can the employer judge his employees work and reward accordingly as long as it is fair and just.
Submitting oneself to the Lordship of Christ will be sacrificial at times but also rewarding. Willingly obeying the Father and seeking His will in all things will bring those loving word from the Father in heaven: “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”
“Therefore, having so vast a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and throwing off everything that hinders us and especially the sin that so easily entangles us, let us keep running with endurance the race set before us, looking off to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who, in view of the joy set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1,2. May we always do the right thing because so many are watching us and they should always see the Father through us.