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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.
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Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter six. One of the things I love about expository preaching is discovering how the Lord times a passage to a particular period. And here we are on Father’s Day and here we are in Ephesians six, verses one to three, where children are called to obey their parents, where families are called to honor their mothers and their fathers. And so it’s a perfect setup for today. I want to preach this morning on verses one to three, a message I’ve called “House Rules.” Just open your Bible, remain seated, follow along. House Rules, Ephesians six, verses one to three. If you’re visiting with us, we’re in a series in the book of Ephesians, and here we are with such an appropriate passage for the day we are in.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” So reads God’s word. I’ve always been fascinated by how Brits view America. I’ve always enjoyed some quotes where both countries have been contrasted. Oscar Wilde, actually, the Irish poet and playwright, said that the United States and Great Britain are one people, separated by a common language. [inaudible 00:01:35] Right? Tomato, tomato, kind of thing. I’ve always enjoyed Churchill’s insights. He once said, “America, when I think of America, I think about this. Their toilet roll is too thin and their newspapers are too thick.” On another occasion, having watched a game of American football, he said that it’s not unlike our game of rugby, but why so many committee meetings? But my favorite quote is King George of England when he visited America, I think around the 1950s, upon his return to London, was asked what he thought about America. And he said this, “The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.”
And you know what? I’m not sure that’s true in every case, but it can be sadly true in many a case. And I think it was true in 1950 and it’s been true in 1916 and it’s true in 1970. And here we are in 2023 where it seems at least in many cases that parents obey their children. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I think your eye sees it. It seems today that parents have lost their nerve when it comes to controlling their children. They seem to be hesitant to lay down the law and direct and discipline their children. They seem to be hesitant, have a fear that they will stifle their child’s self-esteem or warp their fragile personality, which is psychology more than it is theology.
Today, parents passively allow government schools and agencies to co-parent with them with ever increasing intrusion into the home by these bodies. Today’s parents are madly affirming the thoughts of their three-year-old son just out of diapers, who thinks he’s a girl. Today, parents are accepting of a period of teenage rebellion as if it’s normal. It’s just, every teenager goes through this, don’t they? No, they don’t. And neither do they have to, and neither should they. We could go on. The facts speak for themselves. I think you should agree more than disagree with me, today’s parents lack authority. They lack confidence, sensibility, a clear sense of belief regarding what is acceptable behavior on the part of their children. So, confronted with this fog of thought regarding parenting and the relationship of a child to one’s parent, I’m thankful that you and I can turn to a passage of God’s word where we find a divine charter on good parenting.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your mother and father, which is the first commandment with promise that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you fathers do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the fear and training and admonition of the Lord.” Here, our heavenly Father addresses fathers. Here, God teaches families how they ought to bring up their children. Here, children are taught how to respond to their parents, and fathers are taught how to discipline their children with clarity, confidence, and conviction.
Now, let me just put the text in its context before we look at it. Just simply remind us we’re on the second half of this letter, we pivoted in chapter four, in verse one. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” The word, “worthy,” is the Greek word, “axios,” which means weight. Gives us our English word, “axiom,” which means, “something of equal weight.” And Paul’s kind of balancing the book here. For the first three chapters of this letter, he has instructed us regarding gospel indicatives. He’s made statements about the gospel, who Jesus is, what Jesus has done for us, what we are nigh in relationship to him. But now he pivots, he balances indicatives with imperatives, doctrine with duty, and he reminds us what we ought to be, given what we are in Jesus Christ, through what God has done. And for some weeks now, we’ve been trying to understand what faith looks like, when it’s played out in life, when we be who are and do what we should be. And so that’s where we’re at, here, and now we’ve moved into a section about how Christianity affects the home, the relationship between a wife and a husband, the relationship between a child and a parent.
In fact, we’re picking up this admonition in verse 15 of chapter five. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, understanding what the will of God is, and the will of God is that we’re not drunk with wine but we are filled with the spirit, and once we’re filled with the spirit, it will evidence itself in speaking and singing and savoring and submitting.” Verse 21, “Submitting to one another in the fear of God.” In the verses that follow, where we’re at right now, Paul outlines some of those relationships where you have someone in authority over someone who ought to be in submission. The husband is the head of the wife, so the wife submits, and the parent, in the Lord, is over the child, and the child obey, the parent. We’re going to see also the relationship between master and servant.
So that’s kind of where we are at. I want to look at four things, the outlook, the obedience, the origins, and the outcome. Let’s just look at the outlook. Very simple thought but one I don’t want us to miss. It’s just the first word of the first verse. Chapter six, verse one. Children. I want you to see the church’s outlook on children. Paul addresses children directly, which might not strike us, but would strike those in that day. In fact, Paul addresses wives, Paul addresses children, and Paul addresses slaves or servants, directly. He gives them a dignity, he understands their value and he calls them to willingly submit the wife to the husband, the child to the parent, and the servant to the master. Because in that culture, women were overlooked, children were under-appreciated, and slaves were simply tools. But here we see the church’s outlook with regards to wives and children and servants, and I just want us to understand that Paul puts a value on the children of the church.
The word, “children” here is a Greek word that really means offspring. It embraces young people of various ages and stages. It’s a word that has a spectrum to it. It would speak of a young person, a child, and it would speak of a young adult who are living at home under their parents’ roof. By implication, if Paul is addressing children and he’s telling them to obey their parents in the Lord for it is right, it certainly carries the idea of someone old enough to understand what’s being asked of them. And that’s where we’re at, here. And I love the challenge of this verse, because this verse would remind us that it’s the job of leadership and it’s the job of parents in submission to church leadership and alongside the church to incorporate their child into the life of the church. And you’ve got to see that as one of your parental purposes.
You’ve not only got to raise your own family in the fear and admonition of the Lord, you’ve then got to incorporate your family into God’s family so that your child understands the importance of the church and the shoe fits on the other foot. The church needs to understand the importance of children and young people. And so I don’t want to miss that. It’s a simple thought. The church should joyfully celebrate the birth of children. The church should value children by supporting foster care and adoption. The church should come alongside families in helping mothers and fathers disciple their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And the church should offer spiritual fathers and mothers to the functionally fatherless and motherless child. We could go on, but we see the importance of embracing and incorporating children. We need to make sure as a leadership, we need to think through as a congregation, that we value children. They’re not just seen but they’re heard. That we are intentional in our discipleship of them.
And I also think just as a warning, we need to be careful that the age and stage programs that we offer to our children and our young adults don’t become a substitute church, because it is not the church. It’s an expression of the church. And as I thought about this and I thought about the fact that Paul was directly addressing children, I don’t know how they expressed themselves in the early church in the intentional discipleship of children, but it seems clear from this verse that there was certainly plenty of room for children being with adults, young people being with adults in a discipleship environment. And so this has just reminded me that even as the leadership, we need to be careful that we encourage you as families to worship together and that you train their young people even to sit with you in one of the services and then they could go into children’s ministry and you could go to a discipleship environment that will continue to supplement you as a family in your growth in grace.
We’ve got to be careful that our youth program doesn’t become a church in itself and we have our young people going to the youth group but not coming to a worship service. So there’s an onus here on the part of parents to ensure, and the onus here on the part of elders and leaders to make sure that children and young people are incorporated into the heart of the church and they’re not just some auxiliary ministry, something that orbits around the lifeblood of the church. I’m thankful, I grew up in a small church with not a lot of programs, and I look back on my upbringing in Christ, that there was very limited choices for me. Until I was in my mid-20s, I think I sat with my parents every worship service. I think our church only provided nursery, and from you were about four to five on, you were just sitting with your parents, and your parents disciplined you and taught you to be quiet and sit.
I’d get my kneecaps pinched once in a while, during the service. Or an elbow. But that was good. And I look back on that, I didn’t appreciate it at the moment, but I’ve grown to appreciate it and I think it was a fulfilling of this. Imagine Paul, he’s actually addressing children. It’s not that the elder said, “Okay, Paul, I’ll run over and address the children in children’s ministry.” They were in the worship service as the church gathered. That’s an outlook, and I just want us to make sure that we maintain that outlook and constantly be weighing our goal of incorporating children and young people into the life of the church. Our age and stage ministries are good. I’m not for the canning of Sunday school or I’m not for the canning of youth ministry. You know what? Age appropriate teaching is important. Intentional discipleship, based on where a person is, is important. The socialization of children together, is important.
But perhaps the instinct of the family-driven movement was good, it just was an overreaction in some of the directions they went, and perhaps an overreaction, but that instinct of families worshiping together was a good one, and we need to keep that instinct front and center of all that we do.
And let’s move on. Not only do we have the outlook, which is the church’s valuing of children and understanding that you know what, the church always must hear the words of Jesus, “Let the children come to me for such is the kingdom of God.” We’ve not only got the outlook, we’ve got the obedience. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your mother and father, which is the first commandment with promise.” Children and young people, because that’s what the word takes in, are required to do two things.
Did you notice that? While they are young and under the roof and under the authority of their parents, they’re to obey, but even when they become young adults and fly the coup, maybe get married and leave mother and father, they are to honor, all the days of their life. So they’re to obey for that season they’re at home, and they’re to honor, inside and outside the home, throughout life. Let me just drill down into these two words, a little bit. Let’s just take the first word, “obey.” “Children, obey.” It means to follow instructions. Literally to hereunder. To come under instruction with the intent of hearing and obeying. It carries the idea of active listening. Listen to Proverbs three, verses one to two, as an example of what we’re talking about here, and this is simply an echo of other verses in the book of Proverbs. “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”
Listen to Deuteronomy 21, verse 18, which is a warning against disobedience and rebellion on the part of children. But I want you to notice the language. “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son,” notice this, and this is how the rebellion is described, “who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother and who will, when they have chastised him, will not heed them, then his father and mother shall take hold of them and bring them out to the elders of the city, to the gate of the city, and that one will be stoned to death.” Now, clearly we’re not talking about they didn’t lift their clothes in the bedroom or they didn’t eat all their vegetables. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a spirit, a willful rejection of a father’s voice and a mother’s voice.
And in the Old Testament, that came with penalties within the theocracy and the covenant life of the people. But I just want you to get this idea. It carries the idea of hearing the voice. But not just hearing it, heeding it. It’s amazing how our children suffer temporary deafness when we speak. One of the things I loved to do, it was straight after school, me and my mates would throw our school bags in the house and where I lived was a green area right in front of our homes and almost every afternoon when the weather was good, a football game would break out, and then at some point in the game, a mother would come to the door or a couple of mothers would come to the door, “Hey Jimmy, your dinner’s ready.” “Hey Tommy, your dinner’s ready.” And all of a sudden, we all became temporarily deaf.
We heard the words but we didn’t heed the instruction. And then in some occasions our mothers would lead this pitch invasion and they would come and grab us by the ear that wasn’t working, and drag us into the home. To the embarrassment of all. But that’s kind of the picture. Don’t become temporarily deaf when your mother and father are speaking. In fact, the puritans had this beautiful little expression, that a child should be a parent’s echo. Okay, maybe you’ve been in a valley or something or on a hilltop and you’ve spoken, you hear your echo coming back. That’s what the puritans said. When a father or a mother speaks, the child echoes back obedience. And that’s what Paul is encouraging here. And by the way, if that’s what Paul is encouraging, “Children, obey your parents,” the implication is that we have parents here who understand their God-given authority, and exercise it.
We have parents here who are demanding obedience of their children. How novel is that? We have parents here who are creating a healthy fear on the part of their children, towards them. Because, we’ll get to this in a moment, the word, “honor” means to reverence or respect. I hope as a parent you are unafraid to exercise your authority. I hope as a parent you’ve created a healthy fear and respect in your children, for you, as someone who mediates God’s authority in the home. Because you do this in the Lord, you have His authority to do this. Listen, the Christian home is not a democracy. God appoints parents to take His place in the life of a child, in the Lord. And yet, I’m sorry, but as I look out on today’s families, many parents are weak at the knee. Passive. They are obeying their children. And perhaps the reason is they’re listening to human psychology rather than biblical theology.
They’re not bringing their children up in the fear of the Lord. They’re running scared of little Johnny who rules the home with his temper tantrums, where he’s not allowed to be touched. They practice grace. Wonderful, but preach some law or they won’t appreciate grace. Your words carry no weight, because your punishments are so light and painless and so inconsistent, and many evangelical parents today pay lip service to the doctrine of original sin, but if they really believe that, when they see their child’s disobedience, they would see it as seeds of [inaudible 00:21:01] eternal destruction and they would use the rod to drive foolishness out of a child’s heart and they would demand obedience and they would do it with some strength and sobriety. I love these words that Alistair Begg has in his book on the 10 Commandments, on this very text, Exodus 12, verse 20, which Paul is repeating here in Ephesians six, two to three.
He says this about a father addressing his son, “Dear son, as long as you live under this roof, you will follow the rules. In our house, we do not have a democracy. I did not campaign to be your father. You did not vote for me. We are father and son by the grace of God and the providence of heaven. I consider it a privilege and I accept the responsibility in accepting it. I have an obligation to perform the role of a father. I am not your pal. The age difference makes such a relationship impossible. We can share many things, but you must remember I’m your father. This is 100 times more meaningful than being your friend. You will do as I say, as long as you live, in this house. You are not to disobey me, because whatever I ask you to do is motivated by love. This may be hard for you to understand at times, but the rule holds. You will understand perfectly when you have a son of your own. Until then, trust me. Love, Dad.”
That’s a good word. The Christian home is not a democracy. Your children should have a healthy fear of you. Your word should carry authority, because it’s backed up by punishment that’s real and severe and consistent and loving and motivated by the gospel, where obedience must be taught and a fear of God established. Let me do a little sidebar on this, watching my time. Parental authority is inherent in this text. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” But I want us to just be aware of the day we’re in. That there’s a real and a radical movement in this present government, in government agencies, in teachers’ unions, to undermine parental authority.
Make no mistake about it. Wake up to it. Look at the pronouncements of democratic politicians, school boards, and teachers’ unions. Remember Terry McCullough running for governor of Virginia in 2021, who in a public setting said that parents have no right to dictate what schools are teaching their children. In fact, he lost this governorship on that statement alone, because parents woke up. They’d kind of heard it from others, but for the first time, they’d heard it from the horse’s mouth, the politician basically telling parents, when you give your children over to the school, they’re ours and you can spectate. Shamelessly, literally, today, parental authority on issues of sex, education, race, transgenderism, and abortion, are being undermined. The left is setting up ways in which young people do not need to seek parental permission to act in a certain manner. It’s crazy. It’s evil. These entities, government and school and teachers’ unions, are becoming an existential threat to our homes and our God-given rights and responsibilities.
It’s Marxism, if you want to put it in a political form outside a theological setting, because latent to Marxism and communism is the idea that the state is parent, that the state is authoritative, that the state is your child’s nanny. Listen to these words by Jim Garlow in his book, “Well Versed.” “Allow me to give a most bizarre example. When I took my two daughters to get their ears pierced at an appropriate age, I had to sign forms. Yet in the same state, those two daughters could have an extremely serious medical procedure, an abortion, without even me knowing it.” Isn’t that amazing? Today, 38 states require minors’ parents to be notified when receiving an abortion. Just 38. That means that there’s 12 states in the United States that parents have no right to be notified regarding their child’s having an abortion. It’s amazing. Children can actually undergo sex change operations as early as 15 years of age, paid for by the state, without parental consent.
That’s Godless, evil, Marxist. In fact, it goes on to say this, “The Departments of Health and Human Services and Education recently drafted a potential government policy statement on family engagement and they summed up better than any number of examples I could give. ‘It is the position of the Department of EHHS and Education that all early childhood programs and schools recognize families as equal partners in improving children’s development, learning, wellness, across all settings and over the course of their children’s developmental and educational experiences.'”
Did you notice the words? Anybody hear them? Equal partners. They’re not equal partners. It’s your responsibility and my responsibility to bring our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and to govern and guide what is being taught to them by ourselves and by others, into whose care we might trust them.
I remember when our girls moved here, we enrolled them in Villa Park High School. I went down and met the principal and just wanted to make myself known, and thanked him and the school for providing this service to my children. But I reminded him I wanted him to teach English and math and history and do a good job at it, and leave the rest to me and my wife. And if it was otherwise, I told him I’ll be back, in a kind of slight German accent. “I’ll be back.” And in God’s goodness, the man turned out to be a God-fearing Catholic who was more than respectful of parents’ rights. But you know what? In California, you can’t assume that. That was the case at Villa Park, but that’s not the case everywhere, at any time. We know for a fact that there are nigh entities and agencies hard at work within government systems and school systems to radicalize your child, and they’ve got no respect for who you are as a parent. They need to be voted out. You need to be aware of that and make wise decisions regarding with whom and where you place your children.
Let’s move on. “Honor.” We’re to honor. We’re to obey when we’re under the roof, but even outside the home, we’re to honor mother and father, all the days of our life. This is a command that appears elsewhere in the New Testament. In fact, five other times. The word, “honor,” carries the idea of reverence or respect. In fact, if you go back to its Old Testament setting, the Hebrew word, “kavod,” means weight. Heavy. It, in fact, is used of God’s glory. The heaviness and the weariness and the substance of God’s nature. It’s used of God’s glory in Isaiah 24, verse 15. But here it’s used of parents. Every child inside the home and outside the home, across a lifetime, needs to understand the weightiness of what a parent is and what a parent does.
God has entrusted to parents the weighty responsibility of caring for little ones who are vulnerable, physically and morally. Parents carry the weight of protecting, feeding, caring, clothing for those little ones. Parents carry the weight of helping them form a self-image in relation to the fact they’re being created in God’s image. Parents carry the weight of putting the building blocks of a worldview together so that a child understands the nature of God, the purpose of the world, and their place within history. Parents carry the weight of driving their child towards Christ and gospel blessing. These are huge burdens that, one, a parent must carry and understand and a child must respect. Let’s just take a few minutes and go practical and pastoral here. What does that look like? Obeying, honoring, inside, outside the home, across a lifetime. I’ve got several things here I’m going to move through quickly.
Number one, if you want to fulfill this verse and enjoy the blessings that are promised because of it, number one, first honor by recognizing their authority. Young person here today, do you recognize your parents’ authority? You live in a culture that encourages rebellion. You live in a culture that celebrates individuality, self-expression, self-will, self-definition, which is antithetical to the Bible and all that is good and godly. Now if you’re wise, you’ll understand that your parents have authority and they have it in the Lord. The Lord gave it to them. They mediate His rule in the home, they establish His kingdom to some degree in the home. Our obedience to them is akin to obeying the Lord, as they represent his kingdom to us.
For a time, we celebrated the fact that my father, who left school when he was 14, blue collar factory worker, but over time, gained such a reputation in our community that he was made the Lord mirror of [inaudible 00:31:44] of over 100,000 people. Unlike here so much, but in Britain it came with robes and chains of office. The first time they come home, they were all proud. My mom had her chin of office on and my dad had his chin of office on and we loved that and celebrated that. But I was just thinking about that. Ever before he wore the gold chain and my mom the silver medallion, they wore chains of office. They had authority in our home, as my parent, as God’s representative.
Number two, honor your parents by listening and obeying. We’ve talked about that. That’s what the word, “obey,” means. It means active listening. Give you another verse or two, would be Proverbs one, eight to nine. “My son, hear the instruction of your father and do not foresee the law of your mother.” Moms and dads are skylights to God and windows unto the world, and their biblical counsel should be heeded and treasured. In fact, I’ve got a third thing here, kind of piggybacking off of the second thing. Honor them by seeking their wisdom throughout life. You obey them, as the father said to the son in that peace earlier. You need to trust me as your father. This is not a democracy. God has given me a role I intend to fulfill. But even when we have got past that stage of obedience to our parents, under the roof, even when we’re out of the home, it’s a good thing to recognize their wisdom and seek it.
They’ve been around a few corners and over a few hills and they’ve learned some lessons at a cost, they’ll pass on to you for free. Listen to Proverbs 23, 22. “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it. Wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him.” See, in the book of Proverbs, the fool is not someone that didn’t graduate with a high school diploma. The fool is a Johnny know-it-all who has become wise in their own eyes. That’s the danger. Proverbs three, seven. It was the mistake of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who when he came to power, didn’t listen to his father’s wisdom or the wise man his father had established in the court. No, he listened to his peer group and he put a burden on the people to such degree that it divided the kingdom.
I like what Mark Twain said. “When I was 17, I thought my father was a fool, but when I became 24, I was surprised how much he had learned in so short a time.” What the point is, no, the father didn’t wise up, the son wised up and came to understand the wisdom of the father. And that’s what the Bible encourages us to do.
Number four, honor them with respectful speech and courteous manners. Proverbs 20, 20 warns about cursing your parents. Proverbs 30, verse 17 talks about mocking your parents with your eyes. What is that? That’s rolling your eyes. You not only can disobey them with your physical language but with your body language. Do you look your parents straight in the eyes when they’re speaking to you, and give them the attention, the affection that they are due as the rightful authorities in the home? Or are you demeaning, belittling? Watch your manners. Proverbs 31, 20, it tells us that children will, in the best of circumstances, will rise up and bless their parents. I was struck in 1 Kings two, verse 19, Solomon is king, but he bows before his mother. The king bowed before his mother. Such was his respect for her. Look, young people. Inside the home or outside the home, watch your manners when you speak to your mom and dad. Haven’t we lost something of this? This respect, this weightiness, this sense of honor? I’ve lived long enough to live through days when you stood for the teacher in the classroom. I’ve lived long enough to live through days that when any adult entered our home, let alone mum or dad, wherever I was in the home, I was expected to come down to the front door and welcome them into the home.
Mr and Mrs. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, I wasn’t allowed to stay up in the bedroom and ignore the guests. How ridiculous. And it just was a culture of respect for one’s elders, that the Bible encourages us and we need to regain. Teach your children manners. Expect manners. Not just how they speak, but how they respond to how you speak.
Five, honor them by submitting to their discipline. Don’t you love that thought? But I want you to know, although it’s counterintuitive, it’s a blessing to be on the wrong end of your parents’ loving discipline. Whether that’s physical punishment which is appropriate, or the removal of privileges which is also appropriate. Listen to these words. Proverbs 13, and verse one. The word of God says, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 15, five, “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.” Proverbs 13, 24, “He who spares his rod…” Corporal punishment, it’s biblical. “… hates his son.” We’ll get into that next week.
I’m shocked at the increasing number of evangelical families that don’t use the rod and don’t apply physical discipline to their children because they’re being psychologized. Bible says to do that is to hate your son. It’s a denial of their [inaudible 00:38:24]. It’s a fear of your child rather than a fear of God. But we’ll get to that next week. Don’t be frightened to come. The-ill disciplined child is a disgrace to their parents, a bother to the world, and a danger to themselves. “He who spares his rod, hates his son. He who loves him, disciplines him promptly.”
Steve Farrar tells a story in his book, “Standing Tall,” about a tornado that worked its way through the plains of America. The families had been warned. So they got into their safe space and after there was a sense that the storm had passed by, the father opened the front door of the safe space to have a look at the damage, and he noticed right away that there was a downed power line that was whipping dangerously on the street in front of the house, but before he could realize it, what had happened was this, his five-year-old daughter ran right by him and headed for the sparkling wire on the street. As you can imagine, he feverishly yelled, “Lori, stop!” But she kept going. Again, as she moved towards that enticing cable, he called out, “Lori, stop! Stop now!” But she reached the cable, she picked it up and was instantly killed.
Now, here’s what Steve Farrar says about that. “Little Lori reached down to pick up the wicked power line and was instantly killed.” What a heartbreaking tragedy. But the real tragedy is that it happened because a little girl had never been taught that when her father says no, he means no. I hope your children understand when you say no, you mean no. Because if they don’t, they’re a disgrace to your home and they’re a bother to society and they will end up hurting themselves.
Number six, quickly. Honor them by forgiving their shortcomings and covering their shame. You don’t need me to tell you that your mother and father are not perfect. And some are more imperfect than others. Now, what I’m talking about here is not something criminal and something that needs to be confronted directly. This is not an excuse for criminal behavior on the part of parents, but I’m talking about the run-in-the-mill, across a lifetime, those shortcomings, those failures, you and I can honor our parents by forgiving them, by covering their shame. It’s a dishonorable thing to speak ill about your parents, to hold out their failures in public. Their love will be flawed, their decisions will be imperfect, and their leadership will be spotty, but you ought to honor them by covering that.
And if you’re hurt and you’re carrying some wound, you need to surrender that to the Lord and ask him to heal you, and then you need to work at forgiving them. There’s a great story in Genesis nine. After the flood, Noah makes a mistake. He drinks too much and he gets drunk. And one of his sons finds him blacked out, lying stark naked. And if you read that story, it’s very interesting. He goes and gets his brother and they get a covering, a blanket, and they walk backwards towards their father. They can’t look at their father in that shameful state. And then they throw the blanket over him to cover his shame. That’s what good children do. Again, I’m not excusing lawlessness. I’m not excusing brutality or abuse. That’s not what I’m talking about. But just in the normal run of things, today, young people are finding excuses for their own bad behavior in slighting their parents and their failures, taking no responsibility, just shoving it all back on their parents. That’s not honoring them.
Finally, here’s the seventh point. Honor them by caring for them in the latter stages of life, when they’re dealing with adversity and aging. And those days will come. In fact, 1 Timothy five, three to four, seven to eight, addresses that directly. Paul is dealing with widows in the church, who have need, and he says the church should have a fund to help those widows in need, widows indeed. But before he gets here, he says, “Look, before the church underwrites some issue they’re facing or some circumstance they’re in, if they have got family, let their children repay them.” And there’s a way of honoring your mother and father. When that time comes, when age will take its toll and adversity will come and health issues will multiply and the care, perhaps, of a single parent left, is a widow or a widower, you and I have a great responsibility and a joy of taking care of them.
Jesus did. Jesus not only obeyed his parents on the front end of life, Luke two, 51, Jesus took care of his mother on the back end of life in John 19, 26 to 27. There he is on the cross and he’s thinking about his mother, not himself. And he says to John, “You know what? Would you take Mary and take care of her?” The implication would seem to be that she was a widow by this stage. Perhaps in need. Is it not fair that our parents inconvenience us towards the end of life, for a few short years, given a lifetime of sacrifices, masses, vigils, inconveniences, and all-nighters? Of course. We should honor them. In the early years, compliance, in the middle years, courtesy, in the latter years, care.
Please indulge me. I’ve been following Tim Charlie’s blog recently and he’s been making reference to an old Presbyterian preacher, called De Witt Talmage. In fact, that name rings a bell with me because my father had a book of sermons by De Witt Talmage in our home, and as a young Christian, a young preacher, I read some of them. And Tim Charlie talks about this old preacher and he references some of the sermons he’s been reading and there’s one he’s been reading about taking care of your parents, honoring them, especially mothers. I’ll let old De Witt Talmage speak. “Oh, despise not a mother’s love. If hear thereto, you have been negligent of such a one, you still have the opportunity for reparation, make haste. If you could only just look in for an hour’s visit to her, you would rise up in the [inaudible 00:45:41] a world of blissful memories.”
What if she does sit without talking much? She watched you for many a month when you didn’t even know how to talk, at all. What if she has many ailments to tell you about? During 15 years, you ran to her with every little scratch and bruise, and she doctored your little finger as carefully as a surgeon would bind the worst fracture. You say she’s childish. Now I wonder if ever she saw you when you were childish. You have no patience to walk with her in the street because she moves too slow? I wonder if she remembers the time when you were glad enough to go slowly. You complain at the expense of providing for her, now? I wonder what your financial income was, from one year to 10 years of age. You get the point. The origins of this obedience is the law. Obey your parents.
The fifth commandment tell you to do that. Another origin is logic. It’s right. It’s a innate. The law of God is written on the heart. It’s just natural in every culture and society. The children know they ought to obey their parents. And then love. Love for the Lord Jesus, because if you obey them, you’re doing it for Him and in Him. But as we close the outcome, not going to spend a lot of time on this, but I think it’s very interesting, isn’t it? As we wrap up, that Paul enforces this command, not with a threat but with a promise. Not with a threat, but with a promise. “Honor your mother and father, that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Now, that’s a general promise. It’s not guaranteed. It’s a bit like Proverbs. Generally speaking, this proverb is true.
It’s a maxim for life, right? Bring your children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and they will not depart from it. That’s generally true. Honor your mother and father, generally true, [inaudible 00:47:57] go well with you. And the Lord will not only add years to your life, He will add life to your years. It’s just a plain fact, that if you and I honor our mother and father and do what you’re told, we’ll probably stay out of trouble and escape a few injuries. Like what Steve Lawson says, “We’re no longer under the mosaic law, which assigns the death penalty for dishonoring one’s parents, but if our children will honor us when we say don’t play in the street, they will live longer. If they honor us when we say don’t play with fire, don’t play with guns, we’ll live longer.” If we honor them when they say buckle your seatbelt or don’t take drugs, we’ll live longer.
It’s true. I look back on my own life, I won’t go into it, but in the area I grew up in, which was pretty tough, I look back and I can remember incidences where the restraint of the memory of my mother and father, kept me from going further into sin. And I think I’m living longer because of it. I’m certainly not in jail because of it. But it’s not just physical life [inaudible 00:49:06]. It’s just a joy, is promised. It’ll go well with you. There’ll be a sense of shalom and wellness. Because I think we need to be reminded as we close, that joy and wellness are the fruit of obedience. Not rebellion, not doing your own thing, but obeying God’s commands. Happy are those people whose God is the Lord. The happiness our hearts yearn for, will never be experienced if we live with serious disregard for God’s commands.
It’s interesting, obey and it’ll be well. Obey and years will be added to your life and life will be added to your years. As the team comes up, I was thinking about an incident when the girls were small. We were at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It was one of those scorching summer days in California. We were hot, we were all getting a little flustered, and I decided we needed to cool down, and we were walking by a water ride and I noticed that as the water ride end, that it came into this water chute to slow it down, but as it slowed down, it kind of spread water over the bridge, on two particular parts. And I watched people stand in those parts to get drenched and cool down. So I don’t know if the girls knew what I was up to, but I said, “Girls, let’s go up onto the bridge.”
And I fixed them on these two different spots. And we were standing there and I think the first time was a real shock, where they got drenched by this over-spill of the ride, creating its wake. And then we just stayed there for a couple more times and loved it. And I would say to the girls, “Girls, don’t move. Here it comes.” And sure enough, we’d get drenched and cooled down. Can I say to every young person, don’t move far from the fifth commandment. You’ll be drenched with grace and heaven sent blessing. Honor your mother and father all the days of your life, that it might be well with you and that you might live long on the earth.
Father, we thank you for this word on this Father’s day. And Lord, we pray that indeed we would reflect on it, respond to it. We don’t just hear it, but obey it. And that as this day unfolds and the days to follow, unfold, that we would indeed, if we’re under the roof, obey our parents. If we’re under our own roof and out of the home, honor our parents, that it might be well with us. Lord, help us as the church, to reject this age of rebellion. It’s a sad day in America, where the American government and school entities deliberately, deceptively work against parents. It’s a sad day where we have to second guess whether it’s healthy to put our children into those environments. But that day has come. We pray for a change of government. We pray that in days and months to come, that this nation will, and the parents of this nation will rise up and put these radicals out, and get back to the wisdom that has served generations. This is right, not only in the Lord, but just in natural law.
Lord, help us to find many ways today and in the days to come, to honor our parents. Some of us will need to work harder at forgiving them, covering their shame. We pray for parents that have failed, that they would make amends, make a new start, that healing would take place in homes. Lord, we pray that we would listen, that we would obey, that we would honor. In the latter years, that we would make sure that we repay to our parents facing age and adversity, all the investment they made in us.
Lord, we thank you for your example on the front end and the back end of life. And we thank you, you died for our rebellion, and our dishonoring of our parents can be forgiven and grace can be found to make a new start, and even as young parents, to be what our parents weren’t to us, that we might bring up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, boldly and confidently. In Jesus’ name, amen.