Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:1-4
When the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” he followed it up with several practical examples for how to do this in real life. In chapter 6, Paul described how children and parents can “submit to one another”:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’―which is the first commandment with a promise―‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
It’s hard being a parent. But it’s hard being a child, too.
Maybe you heard about the man who observed a woman in the grocery store with a three-year-old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the little girl asked for cookies and her mother told her, “No.” The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, “Now Jane, we just have half of the aisles left to go through―don’t be upset. It won’t be long now.”
Soon, they came to the candy aisle and the little girl began to shout for candy. When told she couldn’t have any, she began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Jane, don’t cry―only two more aisles to go and then we’ll be checking out.”
When they got to the checkout stand, the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there’d be no gum purchased. The mother said serenely, “Jane, we’ll be through this check out stand in 5 minutes and then you can go home and have a nice nap.”
The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Jane. It’s quite commendable,” he remarked.
The mother replied, “I’m Jane. My little girl’s name is Tammy.”
It takes a lot of patience to be gracious, especially between children and parents. Yet Paul tells us there’s value in doing so.
For children, Paul points out that obeying your parents is the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise: “that it may go well with you and enjoy a long life on the earth.” Not only do things go better for you, but children someday may grow up to have children of their own and realize that “what goes around comes around.” I’ve heard it said that “diaper” spelled backwards is “repaid!”
For parents, Paul says not to exasperate your children, meaning not to irritate them so much that that they become enraged. “Instead,” Paul says, “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” King Solomon knew the long-term benefits of training a child in how to live a godly life. He said:
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
And some of you may find yourself in the same place that my wife and I are in right now: taking care of both your children and your parents at the same time, as Lana’s parents have moved in with us as their health has started to decline. Even after all these years as children and as parents, we’re still in the process of learning what it means to “obey your parents in the Lord,” and to “not exasperate your children.”
Some days it means holding your tongue when you’d rather talk back. Other days it means speaking the truth in love when you’d rather not talk at all. At times it means serving a meal and cutting up someone’s food. At other times, it means training someone else how to make a serve a meal and cut up their own food. Quite often it means surrendering your will to accommodate someone else’s. But occasionally it means exerting your own will for the benefit of everyone involved.
Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. You’ll be blessed―and so will those around you―when you do.
Prayer: Father, thank You for reminding me to how to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, especially to those closest to me. Help me to know how to apply these words in practical way today, whether that’s honoring my parents and or training my children in Your ways, or both. Lord, help me to do these things in a way that blesses You, blesses them, and blesses me as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.