Let's begin with a story, some statistics, and an
“Many of today's children are like the little boy who was
given an orange by a man.
The boy’s mother asked, 'What do you say to this nice man?'
The little boy thought, handed the orange back, and
said, 'You need to peel it'” (Floyd).
Welcome to modern America!
Did you know that in the U.S., every 8 seconds of
every school day, a child drops out of school?
Did you know that every 26 seconds, a child runs away
from home? Did
you know that every 47 seconds, a child is either abused or
Welcome, to modern America!
Here's some more statistics dealing with labor.
Only 10% say they are satisfied with their jobs, and
only 30% say that they are loyal to their companies.
About 45% don't trust their co-workers, and about 40%
don't trust their subordinates.
About 15% of workers say that employers intimidate or
threaten them regularly (Patterson and Kim).
Welcome to modern America!
Now what is at the root of all this?
Listen to this wise observation: “Turning away from
God, men are obsessed with the notion that, in themselves,
they can make everything all right, with their laws, social
gains, and planned programs of all kinds; but it is no more
possible to accomplish worthwhile human societies away
from God than it is to produce a crop of apples from
uprooted trees” (Coffman)!
The real problem behind all these attitudes and
statistics in modern America is that people have turned away
from God and away from following what the Bible teaches.
Beloved members, we have a message that modern
America desperately needs to hear, and to heed, and to put
We're not producing good apples; we're producing bad apples!
“It is no more possible to accomplish worthwhile
human societies away from God than it is to produce a
crop of apples from uprooted trees!”
Beloved members, if we could just put into practice
and live out the text that was read and penned by the
inspired apostle Paul, it could turn our world right side
up, just as did in pagan Ephesus among the audience to whom
it was first written!
Did you know that wives, children, and slaves in the first
century had little real security?
Husbands and wives could divorce one another just by
saying: “Pack up your things and be off” (Carcopino).
In fact, almost “every Roman [male of noble birth in]
the two centuries on either side of Christ's birth was
divorced and remarried at least once, often to women who had
been previously married” (Bell, Jr.)
And what happened in the noble class also carried
over into the lower classes.
So, wives had little security.
The Roman father had absolute power over his
children: he could sell them as slaves, work them to death
in his fields, put them in chains, punish them as he liked,
and even inflict the death penalty upon them (Barclay).
And that father's power over his child continued in
effect regardless of the child's age (Bell, Jr.).
So, children had little security.
And slaves were no better, even though there were
about 6 million of them in the Roman Empire.
They were often treated as animals and starved to
death; their masters could legally kill them, beat them,
abuse them sexually, and brand them with hot irons
see now, this was the indulgent and immoral world that the
members in Ephesus had been a part of before they became
This lesson is called “Christian Reciprocal Relationships.”
It started with the husband and wife last week, and
it continues today with the child and parent and slave and
master or employee and employer relationships.
In all these relationships, notice how Christ and His
teaching made a world of difference!
And if we'd put them into practice, it would turn
modern America right side up!
Now the first group that the apostle Paul addressed in
today's reading was the children.
Now if you're in our audience today, and you are from
ages 3 to age 17, please stand up for just a moment!
Yes, the preacher is giving you permission to move
around a little bit while you stand up.
Alright, thank you, you can sit back down.
Now, children, Paul's words here in the New Testament
are written just to you!
So, you need to pay very close attention right now to
what he says.
That's great! I
see that most of you have your ears turned on and are
Here's what Paul told the children in Ephesus: “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
you may live long on the earth.'”
What does Paul tell you to do?
He says that you need to obey and to honor your
obey means that you mind them and live by the rules that
they set up for you.
Honor means that you regard your parents with great
respect and you don't see them as dumb or stupid.
Now notice something else here.
How are you supposed to obey and to honor your
says that you are to do these things “in the Lord”.
The word “Lord” is another name for “Jesus.”
So, the idea is that you are to obey and to respect
them in the same spirit as Jesus would.
Jesus always did what His mother and father told Him
to do. Let's
get practical here.
“Children, if your parents ask you to do something,
and you storm out of the room in a huff, saying: 'All right!
I'll do it!', then you are not obeying your parents
with the spirit that Jesus would have” (Bullard).
Teenagers are you listening too?
“If your parents set down some rules and you argue
with them over those rules, or break them because you think
they'll never find out, then you are not obeying your
parents in the Lord” (Bullard).
Now why should you obey your parents?
Paul gives us three reasons: it's right, it's
required, and it's rewarding.
First of all, Paul
says it's right.
Remember, Paul said: “Children, obey your parents in
the Lord, for this is right.”
Sometimes, you might wonder, “Is it wrong or right if
I do this action?”
Well, obeying your parents is something you do not
need to question.
The wise Paul tells us that it's always right to obey
Why don't you just make up your mind now and say, “I'm going
to try to obey my parents and follow their rules, even if I
don't always agree with them or even if don't like them.
I'm going to do what's right.”
Then notice that Paul says it's required.
Required means that this is something we must
do. You know,
when you see a traffic light, and it's red, you mom or dad
is required to stop the car, aren't they?
Well, see Paul goes back to some of rules that God
set up for His people long ago.
Have you ever heard of the Ten Commandments?
These were some of God's most important rules for the
people called the Jews.
Now do you know what the fifth commandment or rule
exactly what Paul says is required of us.
Here's what we must do: “We must highly respect our
We should try to remember that they have lived longer than
we have and have had more things happen to them than we
have. Have you
teenagers ever noticed that if a teen doesn't respect their
parents, they are likely to badmouth their teachers at
school and even say hateful things about their coaches,
principals, and policemen?
Sure, you're parents will make mistakes at times.
After all, they're human, but Paul says that we still
need to have great respect for them.
And finally, Paul says it's rewarding.
The rule to have great respect for your mother and
father ends with this promise: “that it may be well with
you, and you may live long on the earth.”
Did you hear that?
When you highly respect your parents, it will go well
for you, and you will have long life.
When you are older, you won't have bad memories about
how life was in your family, and you just might live longer
because obeying your parents will help you to stay out of a
heap of trouble!
So children, obey and honor your parent like Jesus
because it's right, it's required, and it's rewarding!
Alright kids, thank you for that great job of
listening extra hard to me!
Feel free to ask me any questions after the service
if I wasn't clear about something.
Now adults, here's a question for you concerning this
passage: How can our children learn obedience if we aren't
The next group that Paul addresses is the parents, and
especially the fathers.
Paul exhorted: “And you, fathers, do not provoke
your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training
and admonition of the Lord.”
What a revolutionary statement this was in Paul's world!
Roman fathers may have had absolute power according
to society, but Paul says that they are not to treat their
children like dictators.
They have some responsibilities as well.
What does Paul tell parents (and especially fathers)
to do? They are
not to provoke their children to wrath, and they are to
nurture them tenderly!
One version states: “You must not goad your children
to resentment” (NEB).
There's lots of ways we can do that: smother your
kids and never let them takes chances, use physical and
verbal abuses, use favoritism and compare your children
against others, push your child to perform beyond reasonable
bounds, tell your kids that you don't have time for them,
make promises to your child that you never keep, tease and
taunt them regularly, make all their decisions for them,
never admit that you could have been wrong (Taylor and
Paul gives the flip side and says that we are to nurture
them tenderly. “Nurture” has the idea of feeding and caring
for, just like we saw when Paul explained earlier in 5:29
how a man treats his own body—it's the exact same word!
And we do this with tenderness and kindness, and not
harshness and brutality.
It's a lot easier said than done, huh?
It's a personal struggle for me too.
Now dad, mom may be feeding them meals each day, but
you are to be feeding them God's word and spiritual
direction for their lives.
Dad, what is your number one goal?
Listen to this: “You should care more for the loyalty
of your children to Jesus Christ than for anything else
besides, more for this than for their health, their
intellectual brilliance, their material prosperity, their
social position, their general well-being” (Dale).
The three greatest gifts that you can give your
children are: loyalty to Jesus, love and kindness to their
mother, and forgiveness for their sins against you!
In Ramsey County, Minnesota, ninth and tenth graders
were interviewed recently about their dads.
They were asked this question: "What comes to mind
when you think of the word ’Dad’?" Answers came immediately
from both ends of the spectrum. One end of the spectrum
said, "I think of the word jerk," and others added the words
“angry, mad, and absent.”
On the other hand, some of the young people said, "I
think of wholeness, kindness, security, and safety." “Dad”
is still an immensely powerful word, even in modern America
how are we to nurture them?
Paul responds: “In the discipline and admonition of
the Lord!” What
did Jesus do when He disciplined His disciples?
Didn't He rebuke and point out when they were wrong
and then explain the behavior that they should be doing?
Isn't that what we need to be doing with our children
too? And the
sooner you start such a process in a child's life, the
better off the whole family will be!
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be
joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by
it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of
righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Let's get back to the Bible!
How did Jesus admonish His disciples?
Didn't He give them verbal information along with
is the idea of both instruction and confrontation when
must share with our children both the blessings of serving
Jesus and the hazards of failing to do so” (Anselmi).
“Parents, there are only two directions in which you
can choose to rear your children: in the Lord or out of the
Lord. You rear
them by biblical principles from God's Word or by humanistic
principles from Satan's world.
The former way brings joy, peace, and harmony in the
home, but the other way teaches a child to live for himself
without thinking of others.
One leads to a life of no regrets; the other brings
many a heartache throughout life.
It is your responsibility, especially fathers, to use
Christ's discipline and admonition with your offspring!
Listen now: That task is not to be delegated to the
school teacher, the politician, the church, or your
television set, computer, or Hollywood!
The obligation to bring divine nurture and direction
to your child's life is primary yours alone” (Bullard)!
Rise up and fulfill that role!
What a wonderful glory to God and to the church it
brings when you do it to the best of your ability!
By the way, your heavenly Father is always a great
example to follow in dealing with your family!
The next group Paul addresses is the slave or the
admonishes in verses 6-8: “Bondservants, be obedient to
those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear
and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with
eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ,
doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill and
doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that
whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the
Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”
What does Paul
say to do? To
be obedient and to do God's will.
“Paul lays down the requirement that slaves be
obedient, and the principle still stands.
If you are an employee, you are to obey in
everything—not just when your boss is monitoring your work.
You are to obey all the time with but one concern:
'Am I pleasing Christ?'
After all, you are His representative in that office
or on that assembly line. ... When you are willfully
disobedient or disrespectful to your employer, you destroy
First you destroy God's principle of authority and
submission which He has built into the universe.
Paul shows us that He wants that principle to be
upheld in husband/wife relationships, in parent/child
relationships, and in employee/employer relationships.
Secondly, it damages your Christian testimony.
How can you ever hope to share your faith with your
boss, supervisor, or foreman if he sees you as an
apple-polisher, a goof-off, or a rebel?
You just can't do it” (Bullard).
If you struggle with respecting the person over you,
then concentrate on trying to respect the responsibilities
involved with their position (Taylor).
Godless workers have bumper stickers that say things
like: “How can I soar with the eagles, when I work with
turkeys all week?” or “I’m so broke I can’t pay attention to
my boss!”, but Christian workers have bumper stickers that
read like this: “The stage where God allows me perform each
day is my job” and “My real boss is a Jewish Carpenter”
are we to do our jobs? Paul
says that we should do them respectfully, sincerely,
willingly, and zealously (or maybe even religiously)!
“We ought to do our tasks as though Jesus were our
Type that letter as though Jesus were going to sign it;
build that house as though Jesus were going to buy it; make
that piece of machinery as though Jesus were going to use
There is only one secret for quality productivity, and only
Christians know it: “Good workmanship is that you do your
job for God” (Barclay).
“If you cannot show a readiness to obey your
employer, then you need to do one of two things: either
change jobs or change your attitude.
If our brothers and sisters who were slaves in the
first century could serve those cruel masters as though they
were Jesus, you can serve your cantankerous boss too”
should you work in this way?
Verse 8 states: Christ will return your good (6:8)!
Now “your boss may underpay and overwork you, [but
Jesus is very aware of what's going on].
You see, the paycheck is not all of your salary, [and
the Lord is keeping records of your hours as well]. ...
Whatever inequities you may experience from day to day, do
not let them control your behavior!
Serve with a full heart—sincerely, willingly,
zealously—and Jesus will see in due time [or at the end of
time] that you are fully rewarded. ... Don't do wrong on the
job. There's no
excuse for it” (Bullard).
Christ will reward if you will keep on doing what's
Now Paul addresses the masters or the employers with
these words in verse 9: “And you, masters, do the same
things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own
Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with
hard these words must have been for Christian masters to put
into practice. ... Paul instructs [the members at Ephesus]
that the [Christian] master will be unique.
He will treat his slaves with fairness, in a way that
is just and equitable.
What are you to do today as an employer?
What is the principle from Christ that operates here?
It is nothing less than the Golden Rule.
Employers are to deal with their employees exactly as
they would want to be treated if their roles were reversed.
The Spirit-filled Christian manager has a deep
responsibility to those who work for him.
He is to seek his employees' welfare, for Paul says,
'Do the same things to them.'
If you expect your workers to do their best for you,
then you must do your best for them” (Bullard).
Well, how do you put this into practice?
“You're not to verbally abuse your employees, for
Paul says, 'Give up threatening.'
That is no way to really motivate a worker.
Jesus never dealt with His [disciples] in that way”
should you keep the Golden Rule and leave off threats?
To be an effective employer, remember that you have
the same Master in heaven that your employee does.
You will stand in judgment before the same [Lord, Who
will judge all with fairness]” (Ibid).
As you follow through with God’s calling upon your life,
your employees will begin to wonder about some things: “Hey,
why does he treat me so well?
Hey, why is she so helpful?
Hey, why did he give me that time off even though he
knew it would put him in a bind?”
And you'll one day have the chance to respond: “Hey,
I was just taking care of my Lord's business, and I know
that He is taking care of this business” (Taylor).
If your life is surrendered to Christ and to His Holy
Spirit, it will make a difference in how you do your
Christianity is not just for the pew, it is also for the
production line and supervisor too!
If you'll let Jesus be seen in your life during the
40 hours that you work, then your coworkers will not have
such a hard time accepting your message to them about
“On February 19, 1979, a small plane crashed into Ontario
Peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, and a ten-hour story of
death, courage, and survival began.
The passengers of that Cessna 172 included the pilot,
a young woman, an attorney, and his eleven-year-old son.
The pilot and the attorney were killed in the crash.
The boy said he knew his father was dead when he tried to
rouse him and 'he wouldn’t wake up.'
The boy and the young woman huddled in the snow near
the plane for seven hours, hoping to be rescued.
Finally they decided they must attempt the
treacherous descent of the mountain or freeze to death.
Shortly after they began, the woman fell 350 feet to her
death. The boy, all 75 pounds of him, was lost—what was he
to do? He
decided to slide most of the way down the mountain on the
seat of his pants, clutching a stick in his fractured hands.
Whenever he began to slide too fast, he wedged the
stick in the snow as a brake.
About 5 p.m. he was found near a village at the foot
of the mountain and rushed to a hospital.
Wet, bloody, and exhausted, he was still very much
his release from the hospital, there was a news conference.
The boy encountered a barrage of questions about his
ordeal. How did
he find the courage to go on?
Didn’t he feel like quitting?
He answered simply,
“I’m alive today because my dad taught me never to give up”
(Floyd quoting Discipleship Journal).
Today, so many children and workers have an uphill
battle to survive in our humanistic culture.
Wouldn't it be great when they are asked, “How did
you hold on?”, they could reply: “I'm here today because my
dad or my supervisor taught me never to abandon the Lord
Christ made all the difference in Paul's world, and He can
make all the difference in ours as well!
He can make you a better husband or wife!
He can make you a better child or parent!
He can make you a better employee or employer!
Your living each day “in the Lord” can turn our
modern America right side up! If you want to see “good
apples” in our society, then you had better be planting your
trees in the soil of Jesus!
With roots in Him, they and you will stand against
Won't you be immersed into His name or ask Him to
help you to be a better child, parent, worker, or