Saturday, February 12, 2011

I can't teach my kids "Guitar Hero"

As I read Ephesians 6 this morning I noticed that the chapter is basically divided in two. The first part speaks to us about living every day life, in our everyday affairs; the second part speaks to us about how to live our spiritual lives. In both cases we are to walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh, with our objective to honor Jesus Christ in all we say, think and do. Today I am going to go in to the first part and tomorrow I will go in to the second part.

The first directive Paul gives is actually tough for some people. God, through Paul, commands us to honor our parents. Many people reading this verse will immediately respond with, “no way, my parents are not worthy of honor.”

Ephesians 6:2a "Honor your father and mother"...

Whatever your situation is, whatever your past is, we need to understand that we are to honor our parents because God said so, it is that simple. The interesting thing about this command is that God also attaches a promise to it. For those that will honor their parents in, and as a service to, The Lord; He promises that “it will be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2-3 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise),
3 "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

That being said, parents are not without a directive:
Ephesians 6:4a Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,...

Paul directs this to fathers because in their culture fathers “ruled” over there wives and children with an “iron fist” so to speak. In our culture, typically, there is an equal balance of authority between moms and dads. So logic would dictate that this directive would go for both parents.

Parents: DO NOT PROVOKE YOUR KIDS TO ANGER. As a coach I see this with my players. At some point people have got so wrapped up in the athletic ability of their kids, that many parents have completely lost site of the fact that kids sports are suppose to be fun. Instead, what I see is many parents towering over their kids after a game, giving them all these instructions and criticism. You can just see the smile on the kids face disappear and their body language shouts, “oh, I disappointed you again.”

Of course there are many other ways we can provoke our children to anger, and in many cases we may not be aware of it. In some cases we may think we are being a good parent. But isn't the wisdom of God amazing, family harmony hinges on these two simple instructions.  Imagine a family dynamic where kids honor their parents, and parents don't provoke their kids to anger.

But that is not the only directive to parents. The last half of verse 4 is the glue that holds it all together:

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Discipline and instruction of the Lord! Yes, the Lord disciplines and chastens those He loves and we are to do the same:
Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

Jesus rebukes, chastens and expects repentance.

In addition to discipline, we are also to instruct them. Instruction of The Lord. I have to be honest here; you can not impart on your kids something you do not have. In a silly analogy; I don't know how to play “Guitar Hero”, as such, I can not instruct my kids how to play it. I can hook the game up to the TV and put in the disc, but my help stops there. This is the equivalent of dropping kids off at their Wednesday night “religion” class, but never opening The Word with them, praying with them and teaching them about Jesus.

The last thing I want to cover today is our working relationships. Paul is talking about slaves and masters in Ephesians 6; however, we should know that this was part of the economy of the day. People would give themselves in to bond service to pay a debt. I think the parallels of Paul's instruction to them is equally relevant to us in our jobs today.

As we read the Scripture I don't think we would be irreverent towards God's Word if we would think in the context of bond-servants (slaves) being employees, and masters being the boss. I am not saying employees are slaves and bosses are masters; I am only saying, we need to put it in to context. I don't think it would be wise for us to breeze past this part of The Word of God as if it doesn't apply to us because we don't like the terminology.

That being said, whether we are employee or bosses, slave or master; we are to conduct ourselves as those serving The Lord, not man.

Ephesians 6:7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

Imagine if everyone treated their employees, customers, supervisors and vendors with the same level of gentleness and respect that we would if Jesus was literally standing right next to us watching us work. If we belong to Him, that is exactly what He wants and expects. He wants us to serve others in a way that brings Him honor and glory. Not with false humility and deceit, but with sincere hearts:
Ephesians 6:5-9 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 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 Him.

Colossians 4:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

1Timothy 6:1 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.
As I was proof reading this, the thought came to me: Notice how we need leaders and followers.  Paul did not say, "tear down the authority structure".  He basically says, "whatever your role is, do it well in service to The Lord."  How amazing would it be if all companies operated under this concept?  Wherever you are on the "ladder", treat those above and below you with honor and respect.  I have to be honest, my tongue and attitude toward employees and customers is not always honoring The Lord.....let's all may a covenant with God that we will commit to this command.  Not only is it right, it comes with a promise.  Did you notice the promise in verse 8; “whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord".  We need to commit to this, not because we want to manipulate God (because we can't); we need to commit to this out of a sincere desire to please and serve Our King.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

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