Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Under The Hand
Under the Hand
I am a child of the 60's. While I was never a flower child or a hippie, the values my generation embraced embraced me - they seeped into my bones.
One of the main tenets of the 60's was a mistrust of all authority. "Don't trust anyone over 30" the argument went. Of course, now every one of those who said that are well over 30 so I guess that means they can't trust themselves.
But because of the atmosphere that I grew up in, I too have a problem with authority. I would not have made a good soldier, or a good policeman. I like to work independently and don't like it when I am watched over closely. I also get irritated when told what to do.
Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with being able to work independently - in fact it is a good thing. But today's section of scripture hits me between the eyes and causes me to reflect on my own character. It makes me wonder how much of me is the product of my relationship with Christ, and how much is a product of the world I grew up in.
Today we talk about the two situations in life where dealing with authority is a daily burden - when you are a child, and when you are a slave - um - an employee.
I got married fairly young - I was 19, almost 20. About a year and a half after I got married I was thrust into the role of parent. At 21 I felt more like a child and not ready to take on such an awesome responsibility.
Yet, 20 years later, the Lord has brought me three wonderful children - and taught me many lessons along the way about what constitutes good parenting, and what's just the easy way out.
Being a child is one of the best and worst times of life.
You start out not being able to do anything for yourself, and then once you can do things no one lets you. It seems like most of the time you don't have any rights at all - just all the wrongs.
And Ephesians 6 doesn't seem to help that situation at all.
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Obey - "to hear under" as a subordinate
Different from "to rank under" in the previous chapter on marriage
This is obedience "do what they say"
"clean your room" "don't touch that" "Come in for dinner" "No you can't go roaming around town till all hours of the night" "Did you read your Bible today?" "That movie teaches ungodliness - you can't see it"
Further - the next verse says not only do we have to obey our parents, but we must honor them as well.
Eph 6:2-3 "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."
Honor - "to prize" attach a value to, revere
I have wonderful children - don't get me wrong. But sometimes it seems like this verse should have been translated: "Put up with mom and dad that it may go well with you and you can get your way on the earth."
I think its natural that as kids we want our way and don't really appreciate parents standing in the way. But I want to suggest to you that obeying and respecting your parents can actually benefit you.
- They are responsible to God to raise you
- They have your best interest in mind
- It sets a good pattern for your relationship to God
Why the promise of long life?
- You will benefit from following their wisdom
- Doing it right the 1st time means fewer failures more successes
- Internal strife from disobedience translates into life shortening stress
In the context of Ephesians - it is easy to follow the "natural" way - but Paul tells us that we are "new" creations - and we should act like it. Rich promises await those who call on the Lord - rich promises await us if we respect our parents and follow their advice.
From "The Message"
Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. "Honor your father and mother" is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, "so you will live well and have a long life."
We parents don't get off the hook here either.
Parenting is no easy task. You spend nine months going to classes, praying, getting ready for this little bundle of joy called a baby. But when you bring it home from the hospital, they always seem to forget the owners manual. Especially the part that explains how to turn the cryer off.
Raising kids is a difficult - fly by the seat of your pants - and swat the seat of their pants affair. With every child you get a little better at it, but by then its too late, and they're grown. Then you get to tell your kids how to raise their kids - its called "grandparenting"
Here Paul addresses a particular side of parenting - placing a limit on your rights and putting a focus on your efforts as you discipline and train your children.
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
We as parents can go too far when it comes to telling our kids what to do.
Don't exasperate - "anger alongside" root is orgay - violent passion.
Have you ever put your foot down so hard with your kids that you can hear the floor joists cracking underneath you? Finding the line between disciplining and exasperating your child can be difficult - especially in the heat of the moment - when you've discovered the room redecorated with a Burnt Umber Crayola Crayon. Or when the principal calls, again, saying that little Johnny has sent another student to the hospital, or when Jenny comes home with tears in her eyes and tells you she is pregnant.
How we react - and even the rules we lay down - can put us over that line.
The verb has a causative sense - you the parent caused it to happen.
How do we know if we have crossed the line from discipline to exasperation?
Example - one of my kids sat Margaret and I down the other evening and wanted to talk about something very important to them. We had a good discussion - a back and forth dialogue that I think helped in an important "life decision". Afterwards they said that they were grateful that we hadn't reacted with "No No No" but instead talked the situation through. Our kids watch us - sometimes its appropriate to react strongly and quickly - but that's the key - what is appropriate?
I think the King James rendering helps us - it says "do not provoke your children to wrath". You as parents need to watch the situation as you are disciplining your kids - judging their reaction. At the point at which they begin to strike out you have gone too far.
Now I'm not talking about a childish temper tantrum, nor the teenage argument for arguments sake. But we can push down so far that our children begin to push back out of desperation.
Colossians contains an almost identical passage about child rearing that helps us understand where this line is.
Col 3:20-21 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
o "embitter" means to provoke or excite. Keep things calm
o "discouraged" means to become "spiritless" or "disheartened"
We as parents must know when our discipline strikes down the disobedience and foolishness (Heb: evil) that Proverbs says is "bound" or girded "in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him."
We must drive foolishness from our kids, not drive it into them that they are fools.
We must use discipline to shore up the spirit, make them feel that they are of great worth and that is why we correct them.
It is the same way with our relationship to God.
Hebrews 12:6 "The Lord disciplines those He loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as a son?God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness."
As God corrects and reproves us, so we should correct and reprove our children - in a way that helps make them more like God.
So how should we act if we avoid disheartening our kids?
Lead instead - "bring up" = fatten until mature
Training - Education by training (child leader)
Instruction - "to call attention to" (mild rebuke)
We to explain what's right and call attention to what's wrong
From: "The Message"
Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
This brings us to the 2nd major topic in this section - that of the employee.
There are many similarities between children and employees. You are told when to show up, what to do, what you are doing wrong, and what new rules the boss has established to make things easier to him.
But as children are told to obey - so too are employees - or slaves - its much the same thing.
I like how "The Message" puts it:
Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regard-less of whether you are slave or free.
Our "real" boss is Jesus - who wants us to go beyond just "putting in our hours" but to work "heartily" and "with a smile on your face" as if the job were benefiting God, and not the company you work for.
The same word to parents applies to those of you who may supervise others.
Again, from "The Message":
Masters, it's the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.
- Don't ask too much just because you can. - instead be fair
- Don't threaten, it only leads to spiritless employees - instead lead by example
- Don't play favorites because God doesn't - instead know your real position
- The Golden Rule
From "Leadership for Dummies"
"The biggest mistake that people make about leadership is that they think leadership means command. Command is the authority to lead but it is not leadership."
A real leader Inspires trust, acts consistently, and motivates by words and deeds.
3 Keys to leadership: Elicit the cooperation of others, Listen well, Place the needs of others above your own needs.
1Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
It's human nature to lift ourselves up - we do it as kids, we do it as employees, we do it as Christians. But God's word to us is be humble: depressed - not in demeanor, but in position. Not just humble - but humble "under God's mighty hand."
God's hand is not a "slapping down" hand, but a hand of protection and molding. God's hand tells us what we are doing wrong, and pushes us to do right, just like a parent. And just like an employer, a soft, compliant heart means His work gets done in the world and in us.
It isn't easy. Our tendency is to break away - be independent - chaff against authority. But the promise is if you will let down, he will lift up "in due time."
Your time is coming - young people - when you are prepared and ready to face the world. Your parents should gradually take off the shackles as you grow and mature until you can fly strongly.
Your time is coming employees when trust is there, when you've shown yourself faithful in the small things. Remember, God has a job waiting for you in heaven. Consider your earthly employment a training seminar.
Maybe you've never put your life under God's authority at all. Now is the time to humble yourself - and admit that you've gone your own way, not God's way. Maybe its time to say - I need You God to run my life 'cause I've run it into the ground.
He's waiting with open arms, if you will just confess your faults, confess that Jesus paid for them, and confess Him as your Lord.