Read Ephesians 6:1-4
Today’s reading is nestled in a larger context of three relationship pairs found in Ephesians 5:22-6:9. In what is referred to as the “household code,” Paul outlines the relational responsibilities of each individual in the pair. Thus, he addresses wives and husbands (5:22-33) and servants and masters (6:5-9). Specifically, in these early verses in chapter 6, he speaks to another relationship pair: children and parents (fathers).
You are among those considered in these verses. At a minimum, you are someone’s child. You may also be a parent or, perhaps, even a father to children. So, what is it that God has intended for you in each one of those roles?
As a child, you are to honor your father and mother. In verse 3, in fact, Paul referenced Old Testament instructions from the 10 Commandments (Ex. 20:12). By honoring parents, Jews were ensured longevity in the Promised Land.
Certainly, you can honor parents on special days like Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. But honoring parents is much more encompassing than that. Depending on stage of life, honoring parents will look different. For young children, this is at least partially expressed in verse 1 as they obey their parents. Somewhere along the way, the relationship changes as we as children become independent. Often this is expressed in marriage as the child “leaves father and mother” (Eph. 5:31 cf. Gen. 2:24). Even though the relationship and expression of honor may change, the need to honor never goes away. At the other end of the age and health spectrum, then, children honor their parents by providing care and support (1 Tim. 5:3-8). We are never exempt from appropriately honoring our parents. How are you expressing that in your current stage of life?
If you are a father of young children, verse 4 provides some critical insights. There is, first of all, instruction on what not to do. Fathers should not push the buttons of their children creating unnecessary tension in the relationship. Dads, we can do this by imposing unrealistic expectations that are beyond their level of maturity or their ability to grasp its importance. Some of us can tend to be too controlling and not give enough freedom of expression. Don’t do that!
There is also here instruction of what dads must do. Positively, we are to give attention to our children’s Christian discipleship. Training and instruction in the things of the Lord are vital to our roles as fathers. Dads, how are you contributing to the spiritual development of your kids?