May 10, 2015
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
Today’s message is not so much about “mothers” as it is about “our relationship to them.”
Key passage: Ephesians 6:1-3
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ’Honor your father and mother’ (the first commandment with a promise) – ”that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Clarifying what it means to “obey our father and mother.”
- Am I always supposed to obey my parents?
Ephesians 6:1-3 calls us to both obey our parents and honor our parents. “Obey” means to hear it and do it; “honor” means acknowledging/respecting their value and worth. We honor people when we treasure who they are, or when we act in a way that shows we value the input they have given us in our lives.
As we grow older from childhood, the obedience aspect diminishes, as God planned for families to grow apart when the children leave. However, you honor your mother and father, regardless of your age.
Answer: We do not always have to directly obey, but we are always supposed to honor our parents (and can even after they die).
- Is Paul saying in Ephesians that we will live longer if we honor our parents?
In Ephesian 6:3, Paul is actually quoting Deuteronomy 5:16 in which the Ten Commandments are repeated. “Long life” in the “earth or land” was connected to worshiping and obeying the Lord. In Deuteronomy 6:4-6, Moses says that the primary way that Israel is to learn to worship and obey God is by parents teaching their children. The original promise in the Old Testament was for Israel to have long life in their land.
Now Paul repeats this command for children to obey and honor parents, as their parents teach their children to worship the Lord. Paul is saying that if we honor our parents as we are commanded, there is a positive promise attached in the original command in the Old Testament. Paul stops short of giving us a direct promise of long life, and reminds us from the Old Testament that good things will happen to those who obey their parents.
Answer: Paul is saying we live better…and maybe longer.
- What if my mother is not honorable?
It is true. In some way…or in every way, some mothers are just not honorable. Some moms are not safe, e.g.: addicted, self-absorbed, wrong, compete with children, live through their children, are never pleased, bitter, angry, damaging, etc.
If you are a mom like that, you need to repent and get the love of Jesus in you.
If you have a mom like that, notice the phrase “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1), which changes everything. Paul does not ask us to obey and honor by sheer willpower, or because society says it is a good thing to do. It is “in the Lord” or “in Christ” that we obey and honor our parents.
- Our obedience to our parents is obedience to Christ.
Our obedience to our parents, our honoring of them, is first and foremost an honoring of Christ (Colossians 3:20). Our obedience and honoring of others is not based on them because they are honorable; we obey/honor them because Christ has told us to. Honoring them is honoring Him.
- We obey them when their commands are not outside of Christ.
Ephesians 6 does not obligate us to obey our parents when they tell us to do something that is wrong. We have to decide what is “in the Lord” and what is not. As we grow older, we must follow God’s direction for our own lives when He shows us, and it might be against our parents’ will.
- Christ enables us to obey them.
It is “in the Lord” that we can truly obey and honor. God calls us not to try to find and reflect back goodness in another person, but to take from His goodness that He has shown us in the Gospel and share it with others. We are not reflecting to them what we have received from them, but reflecting to them what we have received from Christ.
God asks us to take the love, the forgiveness, the kindness, the grace that we have received in the Gospel, and reflect it back to our Father…especially as we relate to our mothers on Mother’s Day.
Do it for the Lord…Do it in the Lord…do it from the Lord’s strength.