Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Ephesians chapter 6 as we look at the role of children in the family. Now before we get to this topic this morning, let me read to you what Dr. Carl Rogers has to say in his book, Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives. And please understand that this man is a humanistic unbeliever and yet he is honest at what he sees happening to the marriage relationship. He tells us in his book:
To me it seems that we are living in an important and uncertain age, and the institution of marriage is most assuredly in an uncertain state. If 50-75 percent of Ford or General Motors cars completely fell apart within the early part of their lifetimes as automobiles, drastic steps would be taken. We have no such well organized way of dealing with our social institutions, so people are groping, more or less blindly, to find alternatives to marriage (which is certainly less than 50 percent successful). Living together without marriage, living in communes, extensive childcare centers, serial monogamy (with one divorce after another), the womens liberation movement to establish the woman as a person in her own right, new divorce laws which do away with the concept of guilt these are all gropings toward some new form of man-woman relationship for the future. It would take a bolder man than I to predict what will emerge.
- Dr. Carl Rogers, Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives, p. 11
With the destruction of the institution of marriage, with the splitting apart of families, you dont need a Ph.D. to figure out what is going to happen a disintegration of the social structure, utter chaos, and we are seeing it happen already. You see, it doesnt take a village to raise our children but a family and we have seen the effects of families that have been torn apart. How difficult it is to raise a family like that. Lets face it, to raise children with a husband and a wife is difficult, but if you are a single parent, it is even harder. Now if you are a single parent, I dont want you to be discouraged this morning, I would like to encourage you and the work you are doing. In fact, in Psalm 68:5 we are told, A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. You see, as you serve the Lord, as you do your best as a single parent, God is with you and He will give you what you need, you are not alone! Never forget that!
In Ephesians 5:31 we are told, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Paul uses the Greek word PROSKOLLAO (pros-kol-lah-o) for joined and it speaks of gluing together, adhering to one another. That is why the man is to LEAVE his mother and father, the same with the woman, because they are now joined together with each other, not with their parents. The cord needs to be cut or there will be problems. Also, if in marriage the couple is joined together or glued together, what happens when they are pulled apart, like in divorce? You know what happens when you try to pull two pieces of wood apart that have been glued together, there are splinters, jagged edges, it is a mess and the same is true in divorce.
In regards to marriage, listen to what Jesus said in Mark 10:6-9, But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. May we not take the marriage vows too lightly, God doesnt!
Now that leads us to our study this morning, raising our children, which if not done right, can lead to trouble. And lets face it, even if we do all that we are suppose to do in raising our children, the child can go astray, at least for a time. But let that not cause us to neglect our responsibility as parents, and as children, their responsibility! You see, when we dont raise our children according to the standards that God has set, this is what can happen:
The Minnesota Crime Commission reports, Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it his bottle, his mothers attention, his playmates toy, his uncles watch. Deny him these wants, and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous, were he not helpless. He is dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. This means that all children, not just certain children, are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow up a criminal, a thief a killer, a rapist.
- Ray Stedman, From Guilty to Glory
That is a harsh reality and it is what we are seeing today, kids gone wild! We see kids that are running the family, in control of the family; they get what they want and when they want it. It is so bad that there are even reality television shows like Nanny 911! It is a show to help families whose kids are out of control and they dont know what to do and she comes in and sets the rules, disciplines them, gets things in order because the parents have not done that in the first place!
If these things are not dealt with now, our society is going to be in trouble in the not so distant future. Thus, I hope to show children how they are to act and give parents some guidelines in raising their children according to Gods standards. With that said, lets begin reading in Ephesians chapter 6, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us this morning.
Paul spends three verses showing us the role for children and then one verse showing us the role for the parent. The key, of course, goes all the way back to Ephesians 5:21 where Paul says, submitting to one another in the fear of God. You see, as children they are to submit to their parents or rank themselves under the authority of their parents in the fear of God or out of respect to God. Of course, for very young children this does not play out but by the time they can say, No, mine! they can learn right from wrong, they can learn of God! And even before they get old enough to speak, to take things away from you or others, you can guide them by how you respond to them, what you say, what you do.
Now we are going to break this study down into two sections: THE ROLE OF CHILDREN and THE ROLE OF PARENTS. So lets dig in and see what we can glean from Gods Word regarding these issues that are very important in the days we are living in.
1. THE ROLE OF CHILDREN EPHESIANS 6:1-3
Paul starts out very basic and tells us that children need to obey their parents and he uses the Greek word HUPAKOUO (hoop-ak-oo-o) which speaks of to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively, by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority. Think about it, do you need to teach your children to be disobedient? Of course not, that just flows from their lives, the sin nature, what we need to do is teach them to be obedient.
And the key is in the Lord or having a fixed position which is the Lord. If your relationship with the Lord is off, then your relationship with your parents will be off also! Thus, their obedience to their parents shows their obedience to the Lord. To make his point Paul quotes out of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 5:16, a section out of the Ten Commandments. Now we tend to divide the Ten Commandments up into two sections. The first four deal with our relationship with God and the last six deals with our relationship with our fellow man.
Interestingly enough, the Jews divided them up into two sets of five and they saw the law of honoring your father and mother as more of a duty towards God than a duty towards man. And understand that this does not change when we become adults; we are still to honor our parents! It is as one person put it, When the bonds of family life break up, when respect for parents fail, the community becomes decadent and will not live long. (Foulkes).
Children are to obey their parents, it speaks of action on their part, the things they do or dont do. Children are to honor, or TIMAO (tim-ah-o) in the Greek, and it is more of an attitude towards your parents, to value them and, respect them. You see, Paul says that it is the right thing to do, it is the correct thing to do. If you dont, you are wrong!
I realize that today parents want to be equals with their children, be their best friend, their good-buddy and-so-on. But it cant always be like that because you are the parent and you will need to make some decisions that they will not always agree with. It is so important that God tells us in Exodus 21:15, And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. In Exodus 21:17 we are told, And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. Also, in Leviticus 20:9 we are told, For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.
I know, that sounds very harsh, very strict. God is saying that children that physically or verbally abuse their parents would be put to death in Israel. It was a capital offense! How come? Because a child out of control, a child with no respect for his parents will grow up into an adult who is out of control with no respect for his parents or with anyone!
Am I saying we are to put to death our disobedient children? Not at all but it is so important to instill in them from a very young age right from wrong, respect and-so-on. If you dont, if a society doesnt, then this is the result:
In the United States at least eight million serious assaults are made each year by children on their parents. In recent years, a number of children have been convicted of murdering or hiring the killing of their parents usually for no greater reason than resentment of parental control or discipline. Children who are incessantly [persistently] told they can do whatever they wish and can have their own way are children who will soon mock their parents, teachers, moral standards, the law, and society in general. All human relationships obviously grow out of those of children with parents. Children who respect and obey their parents will build a society that is ordered, harmonious, and productive. A generation of undisciplined, disobedient children will produce a society that is chaotic and destructive.
- John MacArthur
Paul also speaks of the blessings found in a family when children and parents submit to one another in the fear of God. There is harmony, peace and a promise of long life on the earth. Now what does that mean, is it saying we will live to be 100 or more? No, what it means is that you will have a full life, not necessarily in the number of years, but it is a life lived out to the fullest measure, it is all that God intended it to be, be it 10 years or 100!
Lets look at some Scriptures in regards to children and see what God has to say. In II Timothy 3:15 we are told, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Children are to know the Scriptures, learn them, even at a young age they can learn. In fact, it is easier for them to learn when they are young.
In Colossians 3:20 we are told, Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Your obedience to your parents, obeying them, honoring them, is pleasing to the Lord.
Solomon tells us in Proverbs 3:1-4, 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. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. There are blessings to be found as children are obedient to the parents.
As children you are to listen to what your parents tell you. You might not always agree but you are to heed what they say. Proverbs 13:1 tells us, A wise son heeds his father's instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
You are to make your parents hearts glad. I understand that none of us are perfect, we do make mistakes, but your desire should be to bring gladness to your parents. Solomon said in Proverbs 23:24, The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him.
You are to show respect to those that are older than you as Peter tells us, Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. I Peter 5:5.
The role of a child is to submit to their parents and to grow and mature into men and women of God!
2. THE ROLE OF PARENTS EPHESIANS 6:4
As we move on to the parents role, let me show you an example of what not to do because it is very destructive and it is not according to the standard that God has set. We are told:
In my parenting and leadership seminars, I tell a true story about a young couple who invited me to their home for dinner some time ago after an all-day program at a university. This man and woman, both highly intelligent, with advanced degrees, had opted for a child-centered home so their five-year-old son Bradford would have everything at his disposal to become a winner out there in the competitive world.
When I arrived at their driveway in front of a fashionable two-story Tudor home at the end of a cul-de-sac, I should have known what was in store for me. I stepped on his E.T. doll getting out of the car and was greeted by, Watch where youre going or youll have to buy me a new one!
Entering the front door, I instantly discovered that this was Bradfords place, not his parents. The furnishings, it appeared, were originally of fine quality. I thought I recognized an Ethan Allen piece that had suffered the wrath of Khan. We attempted to have a cup of hot cider in the family room, but Bradford was busy running his new Intellivision controls. Trying to find a place to sit down was like hopping on one foot through a mine field, blindfolded.
Bradford got to eat first, in the living room, so he wouldnt be lonely. I nearly dropped my hot cup in my lap in surprise when they brought out a high chair that was designed like an aircraft ejection seat with four legs and straps . . . He was five years old, and had to be strapped into a high chair to get through one meal!
As we started our salads in the dining room, which was an open alcove adjoining the living room, young Bradford dumped his dinner on the carpet and proceeded to pour his milk on top of it to ensure that the peas and carrots would go deep into the shag fibers. His mother entreated, Brad, honey, dont do that. Mommy wants you to grow up strong and healthy like Daddy. Ill get you some more dinner while Daddy cleans it up.
While they were occupied with their chores, Bradford had unfastened his seat belts, scrambled down from his perch, and joined me in the dinning room, helping himself to my olives. I think you should wait for your own dinner, I said politely, removing his hand from my salad bowl. He swung his leg up, to kick me in the knee, but my old ex-pilot reflexes didnt fail me and I crossed my legs so quickly that he missed, came off his feet, and came down hard on the seat of his pants. Youd have thought he was at the dentists office! He screamed and ran to his mother, sobbing, He hit me! When his parents asked what happened, I calmly informed them that he had fallen accidentally and that, besides, Id never hit the head of a household!
I knew it was time to be on my way when they put Prince Valiant to bed by placing granola cookies on the stairs as enticers. He ate his way up to bed! How are you ever going to motivate him to go to school? I asked quietly. Oh, Im sure well come up with something, they laughed. Yes, but what if the neighborhood dogs eat what you put out? Hell lose his way just like Hansel and Gretel! (I asked the Lord for forgiveness for not remaining silent, as I drove back to the airport.)
- Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness
Obviously that situation is a mess, it is unhealthy and yet we see more and more of this going on in the family where the child is running the show, he is the king and there is no submission on the childs part, only on the parents who submit to the child! A family like that is a family out of touch with God, it is unbalanced and it is unhealthy!
Now lets look at what Paul said here in Ephesians 6:4, And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
To provoke to anger speaks of a repeated and ongoing pattern of treatment that builds up over time to anger and resentment and hostility in the child. Now my youngest son loved to tell me when I disciplined him that I was provoking him to anger but that is not what Paul is saying here. He was twisting the Scriptures to get away with his rebellion, he wanted to do his own thing without any consequences and I would not let him. If I did, I would be wrong, I would be disobeying God!
You see, provoking your children to anger or wrath can be done as you favor one child over another, as you compare your children, as you set unrealistic goals or have unrealistic expectations for them, as you make them feel that they are in the way, a bother to you, if there is any kind of physical or verbal abuse, these are all wrong and we as parents need to be careful not to fall prey to these things because they can hurt our children.
What are we to do as parents? To bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. You see, there is discipline and there is instruction that we as parents must give to our children. And the key is of the Lord. What we do must be of God, according to His Word, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in it all we are to bring Him glory as we raise our children!
In regards to discipline, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells us, When you are disciplining a child, you should have first controlled yourself . . . What right have you to say to your child that he needs discipline when you obviously need it yourself?
Lets look at a few verses regarding discipline. In Proverbs 13:24 we are told by Solomon, He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. And in Proverbs 19:18 we are told, Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction. Discipline needs to be done promptly, not waiting several hours later or days later. Why? Because the child needs to understand that there are consequences to their wrong behavior, that they are not going to get away with it.
Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, raised seventeen children and had these words to say about raising children: The parent who studies to subdue [self-will] in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devils work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that . . . to damn his child, soul and body forever. (Cited in The Journal of John Wesley, p. 106).
Parents are not only to discipline their children but also to train them up, let them learn right from wrong. How is that done? Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In other words, let life experiences be their training, let them see what God desires of them as they go through different things as you go through different things. And this training is done in the home, outside the home, not just in church on Sunday mornings. It is life with the Lord every day for every day God is teaching us lessons and those lessons can be taught to our children. In Proverbs 22:6 we are told, Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Let the Words of God, the lessons of God sink deep down into their hearts and they will never forget them!
That is what we are to do to raise godly children, not perfect children, but ones who grow up loving the Lord. You do your part, let God do His part and then it is up to each child as they become adults to decide the course they are going to take. But you equip them to make the right choice. If you dont well:
The Houston Police Department has Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children:
1. Begin with infancy by giving the child everything he wants; in this way, he will believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up that vulgar word, laugh at him; this will make him think hes so cute.
3. Never give him spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him decide for himself.
4. Always avoid the use of the word wrong. It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when hes arrested, that society is against him and hes being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything he leaves around the house. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility upon others.
6. Let him read any printed matter he gets his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feed on filth.
7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children; this way they wont be shocked when the home is broken up later on.
8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never make him earn his own.
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified; hold back nothing.
10. Take his part against neighbors and officers of the law and teachers. Theyre all prejudiced against your child.
11. When he gets into trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, I never could do anything with that boy anyway.
12. Prepare yourself for a life of grief; you will likely have it!
- Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations
As you look at our society, you see these things played out and the end result is what they have said, a life of grief as the children have been trained in the wrong way and are now living a life in rebellion against God, society, everyone! May we learn the lesson! You see, as we watch our children grow up may we not have any regrets on what we should have done or should not have done in raising them. We are not perfect, we do make mistakes, we all do, but lets use the resources that God has given to us in raising our children. Tragically, as one Christian father confessed:
My familys all grown and the kids are all gone. But if I had to do it all over again, this is what I would do. I would love my wife more in front of my children. I would laugh with my children more at our mistakes and our joys. I would listen more, even to the littlest child. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection. I would pray differently for my family; instead of focusing on them, Id focus on me. I would do more things together with my children. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise. I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness: And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day I would use to direct them to God.
Children, obey and honor your parents because this is right, this is what God desires of you. Parents, train up your child, discipline your child for it is what God desires. And as I have said, the key to family relations and all our relations is found in Ephesians 5:21, where Paul said, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Dont let the enemy destroy your family, let God bless it! Remember in our first study on The Family Life, we talked about fire proofing your marriage, your family because the firestorms will come, not might, they will and if you are not prepared, you will be burned! And as you submit to God as a family, your family will be an example to others of what a true family is all about, a beautiful relationship, harmony between a husband and wife, children and their parents. Sounds impossible? It is not for with God all things are possible!
As I close this morning, and we close out our study on The Family Life, let me leave you with these words of the Beauty Of A House. We are told:
The beauty of a house is harmony,
The security of a house is loyalty,
The joy of a house is love,
The plenty of a house is in children,
The rule of a house is service,
The comfort of a house is God Himself.
May the Lord bless you and your family, may you be encouraged by these studies because folks, if you dont have that perfect family, you are in line with 100% of the people that are out in the world. Our families may not be perfect, but God is molding them and shaping them and teaching us all lessons of faith that we may grow by. God has not given up on our families and neither should we. You do you part and let God do His and see what will happen as you do!