The Importance of Teaching Ephesians 6:1-3

eph 6Driving home with a friend the other day, we were talking about all the expectations placed on homeschool families. My friend, who is in the beginning stages of homeschooling, stated that she felt as though she had to prove something. This thought is normal. Often the world will look into our home and our choice of education and place lofty standards on us and our children. Sometimes, due to the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16), we raise the expectations ourselves. But if we could just lay the world’s standards and our own pride aside, we would find such freedom.

Homeschooling should be simple. It should be a lifestyle that creates in our children a love for God and learning along with a mindset of always pursuing knowledge. I have never wanted school to take place from 8 to 3 on Monday through Friday. I don’t want their education to just be from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I want my children learning every day of their life. Following the world’s standards will often lead to filling their minds with useless information. I don’t want to fill their minds; I want to shape their hearts and point them to God. I want to create in my children a desire to learn all they can for God’s glory. I want them to excel in reading good literature, to chase after truth in science, to discover the world through God’s eyes (HisStory), and I want them to use their writing and communication skills to change the world.

Simple right?

The concept of lifestyle teaching for God’s glory is certainly simple. It’s just hard at times. But isn’t all of parenting? A parent’s role in teaching their children is crucial. This is true whether or not we are homeschooling. So, with all the teaching we do, there is one imperative lesson that needs to be taught. This one lesson needs to be given first and foremost. It is found in Ephesians 6:1-3.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

This commandment is the foundation upon which successful teaching is built. Ephesians 6 gives two commands for children. They are to obey and honor. Obedience is an action. Honour is an attitude. It is to our children’s detriment if we fail to teach them this fundamental lesson. A child who does not learn to consistently obey their parents will struggle in life. It will not go well with them (Ephesians 6:3). They will also struggle in their academic studies if obedience is a problem. But even more important than that, if we fail to teach our children to honor and obey us, they will not learn how to honor and obey God. A lack of proper respect and obedience for those in authority will transcend into a lack of proper respect and obedience for the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

But society in general rebels against authority, doesn’t it? But like it or not, authority is a large part of life. We are always under some type of authority. Children must learn to submit to the authority of their parents. Christian wives must learn to submit to the authority of their own husbands. Husbands must learn to submit to the authority in the workplace. We all should submit to church and governmental authority. All believers must submit to God’s authority. Even unbelievers will one day submit. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God,” Romans 14:11. (Sadly, by the time an unbeliever learns to submit to God’s absolute authority it will be too late for them.) Submission to authority is a reality of life. And it is one that has been under attack since the beginning of time.

Today we see unnecessary heartache because of the lack of understanding biblical authority. There are miserable parents who have failed to teach this truth to their children and who are reaping the consequences. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” Proverbs 29:15. There are husbands and wives who are struggling in their marriage because they have never been taught proper authority or have simply chosen to ignore it. “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Ephesians 5:24-25. There are churches that are spiritually dying due to sin in the camp and a refusal to lovingly establish the authority of church discipline. “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened,” 1 Corinthians 5:6-7a. Untold numbers of boys and girls live in daily turmoil at home and with society because no one taught them the truth of authority. Thousands of men and women are in prison today because they did not submit to proper authority. Do you see the importance of authority?

The first four commandments given to Moses in Exodus 20 were between man and God, the next six between man and mankind. “Honour thy father and mother” was the first commandment that relates to our relationship with others. It was also the first commandment with promise – “thou mayest live long on the earth.” God saw this commandment as important. Don’t let your children disobey or dishonor you. It fabricates a weakness in their life that will be hard to overcome. Love them enough to teach them the importance of authority, honor, and obedience. In doing so, you will be pointing them to the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

Otis (The Runaway Dog)

Our dogs were use to being able to run free in Mississippi.  We lived in the middle of a National Forest consisting of thousands of acres.  But now their environment is somewhat different.  Annie is confined to a small backyard and leashed walks around the neighborhood.  Otis (Abigail’s Maltese) has free range of the house as well as the backyard.  However, in the one month we’ve lived here Otis has escaped several times.  The little fugitive will slip out the front door when no one is looking.  We’ll send out a search party and find him wandering all over the neighborhood.  The scenario has quickly become old.

A few days ago Otis attempted to runaway again.  I caught him this time at the next door neighbor’s house.  When I called for him, he looked at me in disdain.  He had no intentions of returning home until he had made his rounds.  Determined to not be outwitted by a dog I said the magic word – TREAT.  “Otis, Do you want a treat?”  Would you believe that he was in the kitchen before I could turn around?  He sat with his tail wagging and eyes fixed upon the cabinet where treats are found.

As I was sharing this story with my husband this morning, he made a profound statement.  He said, “How many times are we just like Otis?  When our Master calls we ignore Him and do what we want to do, that is, until there is hope for a blessing.”  I know this has been true in my life.  Often my obedience is based on the amount of blessings I expect to receive.  While we are promised blessings through obedience, (A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day, Deu 11:27) should that be our only motive?  Psalms 32 paints a striking picture of the relationship between us and our Master.  “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee, Psalm 32:8-9.  What exactly is the Lord saying here?  Simply put I believe He is saying that we should not act like a dumb animal that must be bribed or enticed to come near.  Our eyes should be fixed upon Him and not upon what He can give us.  Scripture tells us to seek Lord’s face (I Chronicles 16:11, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalms 24:6, Psalms 27:8, Psalms 105:4, Proverbs 7:15, Hosea 5:15) not His hands.  Yet, many times I come to Him seeking only what He can give.

 I am thankful that my Master is much more understanding than Otis’ master.  This dog is in the doghouse!  He is not in good graces with me.  But I can learn something from him.  His actions can serve as a great reminder.  Lord, help me to seek Your face.  Help me to draw near.  Help mine eyes to stay fixed upon You.  And let my obedience come from a heart’s desire to please You in all things.

 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us, Psalm 123:1-2.

90% Obedience = 100% Disobedience

percentHe was just a little fellow, sitting on top of his bunk bed with his head hung low. “Son, you need to be obedient. Mommy and Daddy expect you to do what you’re told, when you’re told.” I don’t remember now what he was in trouble for but I do remember his response. “Mommy, nobody is perfect. I’m not Jesus.”

Over the years I have thought about that statement often. At first I allowed this form of manipulation to bring guilt. Maybe, I was expecting too much from a little boy. Maybe my standards were too high. But the Lord reminded me that if I was going to raise my children up according to Scriptures than I did not have the liberty of lower the standard. Sure, my children are not perfect. And sure, they will mess up. And when they do I will be faithful to forgive and love unconditionally just like God does. But nevertheless they are still expected to constantly obey. The bar of obedience will always be raised.

What if God treated His children like most parents treat their children today? Matthew 5:48 might look something like this: “Nobody is perfect but the Father in Heaven therefore do not worry about striving too hard, you’ll never make it.” Or when Jesus gave the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37 it might have looked like this: “You shall love the Lord thy God as much as you can with your heart and soul and when you have time to think about it.” Or I Peter 1:15-16 might have read: “He who has called you is holy, so be holy as much as you can. I know however it’s impossible but try nonetheless.” And if God was like we are Jesus would not have said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Instead, He might have said. “I realize that you’re love for me is not based on what you do, just tell me you love me, that’s enough for me.”

It’s blasphemy to say that God would act like this! Why then do we as parents? Why then do we as Christians? Why then do we as the church? I think it is because most people have broken the second commandment and have made a god in their own image. Most people have made up a god in their mind who has lowered the standard. This is why we have so many people who love to quote “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” and who like to point their fingers at people who are striving to please God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and call these people legalistic. I counseled with a precious young lady on the phone the other day. She shared with me that some family members had accused her of “living under the law”. I asked this dear lady if she knew what I John 3:4 said. It says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Now, call me old fashion, but if sin is the transgression of the law then I want to do everything I can to not break it. Not because I have to but because I want to. I love the Lord and I desire to please Him not in word only but also in deed. (James 1:22) I pray that I will never be satisfied with being partially obedient. I realize that perfection will not come until the day I am glorified and the day that I will “be like him” (I John 3:2). But until that day, I will strive. I will press toward the mark of the high calling. It’s really a matter of the heart.