Boys and girls - guess what? Look at the verses in the box below. Do you see them? Those words are just for you - for “children” it says. The verses start with children, and then talk about their relationship with their parents. That must be for you!
Ah, but you could be thinking, “This is for all children - not only me! Besides, everyone is a child really, because everyone has a Mum and Dad - otherwise they wouldn't be here! Even someone as old as you Mr Bajema!”
And you know what? You're right! We are all children, because we all have parents - or, we had them. But this Bible passage is written especially for young people - for those who are not yet adults. And that means, guys and girls: it's for you! Keep reading, and you'll see why….
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
“Honour your father and mother” -
which is the first commandment with a promise -
“that it may go well with you
and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
The first word here in verse 1 is the Greek word used for children, which means someone who depends on someone else. They can't get along in life on their own. I'm sure you know some children who don't believe this - but even so, it is true: children need help from adults. And to receive help from somebody else, it's important to have a good relationship with them.
Getting On Together
This passage in Ephesians is all about healthy relationships. The apostle Paul describes how Christians should be in their daily relationships with each other, and in their relationship with God. In fact, how we get on with other people - and especially with our parents - is supposed to be a sort of spiritual picture, showing the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church. Look back a bit in Ephesians, to chapter 5: Paul tells us that we should submit to each other. Why? Because we love Christ.
So, guys and girls, if your Mum and Dad tell you to do something, you have a choice. Maybe you think it's not much of a choice: disobey, and you'll get into trouble! Still, that is a choice: you can choose to obey, or you can choose trouble.
What are these choices of yours? What about tidying your room? Or doing homework? Or washing the dishes? Maybe these things are boring…but they still need doing! And by doing them well when your parents ask you - even if you don't always enjoy it - you're working on your side of the relationship. You're showing the life of Jesus by submitting to people that God has appointed to have authority over you. Bizarre thought, huh? Living out the life of Jesus by doing the dishes? But it's true!
Getting On For God Together
Let's think about this some more. Mum tells you to do the dishes, so off you go, and start running the water. In goes the soap. After you're finished and the kitchen's all clean, Mum's happy, and maybe you've got some time to yourself. Now, who did you do those dishes for? Well, mum - she's the one who asked you. Dad? Yep - him too. And what about you? I guess you don't want to eat off dirty dishes for your next meal! So you've been working for all these people: Mum, Dad, and everyone else who will use those dishes next time. But Ephesians tells us something else: you're also working for the Lord.
In the Ten Commandments, we Christians often think of four plus six: the first four commandments are about our relationship with God, and the last six are about how we get on with other people. But the Jews saw things differently. They thought in terms of five plus five: five commandments were about us and God; the other five, about us and other people. “Honour your parents” comes in at number five. So for the Jews, honouring our parents was a way of showing our love and respect for God.
(Adapted by Janice Reid from a sermon by Sjirk Bajema)