Welcome to Easter hangover, right? The Sunday after is always referred to as Easter hangover day, but I’m to invite you today to Ephesians 5, which is what we’re going to dive into. We starting a new series on “Family“.
This topic of family, I know as soon as I say something related to family, or that we’re going to dive into the topic of family, sometimes, depending on where you are in life, you might feel a little ostracized by a subject matter such as family. You may feel you don’t have the typical white picket fence, 2.5 kids, a dog who is always obedient and does everything that you want. But that is okay. The reason is that when we talk the biological family that we’re going to enter into discussion over these four weeks, the way we learn how the biological family works, is really symbolically representative and maybe not just symbolically but actively, I should say, represented for us in another family that God has created, which is his spiritual family. When we learn to function within the biological family, the place that gives us the idea of how God desires for us to live life within the biological family, we should see that emulated within the spiritual family as an example. So when we talk about family and what God calls us to in the biological family, the application that we use for that family is drawn from God’s spiritual family, because God has created two families for us. Those family can intertwine, those families can interact together. Sometimes your biological family is also a part of the spiritual family.
But God has created both of those family for us. In fact, Jesus refers to the church as his bride. And the terms that he often uses as it relates to us, with each other within his church, is brothers and sisters. You’ll see that in scripture – the Bible encourages men to treat the ladies as sisters, and ladies to do the same thing towards the men. There is this family, this community that God is building together. So when we learn how to operate within the biological family, we see how it relates to the spiritual family. It is the illustration for us for what we take into our local families in our day-to-day lives as we see it modeled within our church family. So when we talk about the family, the reason we shouldn’t feel isolated this morning is that the principles that we are going to apply to the biological family, relate across the board in how we interact with each other spiritually.
So today, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to put a target on the map and say, this is what we’re driving for. This is what God has called us to in family, both spiritually and biologically. This is what it looks like for us, or it doesn’t necessarily have to be a biological family. Maybe you are in a place in life where you’ve been adopted, so the family you wouldn’t necessarily say is biological, but it is your family. So today what we’re going to look at is the target. What does God have for us in what we call our family and how we function? What is the target? In the weeks ahead, we’re going to explain how that works. We’re going to look together at what it looks like for us and operate in the how, and how to build that family as God desires. How to build the bonds within those relationships.
Then we’re going to talk the last two weeks on family feuds. How do we operate when I’m the aggressive person? Do you ever get to that place in your life where you’ve steam coming out your ears and you are blowing up at your kids, and you’re asking, “Why do I keep blowing up here? How do I navigate through this conflict?” We’re going to talk about that. How do we work through in those tense moments where you can’t just contain it anymore, and you just spew things and then you realize that, “Man, I just keep messing up. How do I work through that? What is God’s desire?” Then what if you are on the other side? We know in a relationship that it’s always just one person that’s the problem, right? But how do you work through that from the other side? If you can see that someone in the family relationship is frustrated and you want the best for them. How do you work through that to encourage what God desires within the family.
When you talk about family, I recognize that words within the family are not emotionally neutral words. There are feelings attached. For instance, when I just say the word, father or mother or brother or sister. When you picture those within your mind, there is a lot of emotional attachment that comes along with that. Some good, and some bad. When you think about your family, maybe you are like me when you were a kid, you think at some point that you are no longer the cool family. You look at other families, and think, “Wait, they are the cool family!” Then you want to be part of those families and then you realize after awhile that, “Wait, what I had at home wasn’t that bad.” I could remember my sister growing up, she used to look at the family around her, me her brother, and she’d just say, “I can’t be from these people, right? They are crazy! At some point mom is going to come and tell me I was adopted. I belong somewhere else. I can’t get along with what’s going on. This is crazy.”
Or maybe this is you where you are like, “No one in my family is as smart as I am and so when everyone else figures that out and jumps on board with doing everything the way that I want to get it done, then everything will be great.” I would just say, if the world was centered to revolve around you, that is a wonderful plan. But the reality is, it’s not going to work like that. And when everyone lives to please you, really no one walks away happy.
So for us, family doesn’t have neutral feelings. Someone of us here this morning could be at the place where you are ready to throw in the towel and feel like you just want to quit. Or maybe you are on the top the mountain right now and you’re thinking, “The way my family is working and how it’s going, everything is great. I don’t want to talk about anything this morning that might mess that up. Don’t pull any skeletons out of the closet!” I want to just say for us as families, it’s important that we understand how we are functioning as a family or what we are doing as a family – it’s really important to start with the target that creates all of that. So when your family launches in a trajectory, if you are in those seasons of life that are just good, that we understand that it’s not just this random season that happened to come together, but it really came together because you’re pursuing God’s intentional plan for what the family is. When you are living that out and you find your family getting disoriented as to what God has called you to do, you can reorient to what God’s desire is for the family so you can get back on the plan and operating together. So it’s important to just start with the question of what God desires for you so that you can answer the question “how?”
When the Bible begins, the Bible starts with biological family. It starts with the home. It starts in Genesis 2. God creates man, he says, “It’s not good, man. This is not good bro. We’ve got to do something to fix this place.” So he creates women and then he says it’s very good and God gives us the definition as to why he’s creating the family in the world in Genesis 1:27, it says, “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the sea and the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” God creates family and his desire for the family is to be a blessing to the world. That what happens in the home, that God’s intention were for the family to be good and from the goodness of that family, that they are able to bless the world. When the family functions and lives in the way that God has designed it, the family becomes a blessing to everything around it. So that’s what he says, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Utah is really good at that second part, and then we fill the earth and then we take care of the land. We subdue it. The way the family functions helps the world to be a better place.
Then he says in Genesis 2:24, if you’re asked the question, “Well how exactly does that work? How does the family create that environment where they bless the world?” It’s really found in one word, and it says this in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” This idea of one flesh has this thought of unity. It’s the husband and wife so glued together that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. They are united. And from the unity of that relationship there it fruitfulness, there is multiplying, and then as that cohesive unit learns to function together, then the family begins to see a model for them in how they are to operate as well. When you talk about this word unity, this idea of two becoming one flesh, I want to be very careful in saying, what I mean by unity is not uniformity. There is a big difference between unity and uniformity, because when we talk about a family living in uniformity, if you strife for that, you will render each other useless.
Here’s what I mean. Parents, if you are sitting at home one day and your kid goes, “I’m heading to school today. After school I’ll be taking off for my 40 hour a week job to provide for the family. Don’t worry about the brothers and sisters – I’ll be picking up, taking them to all their appointments. When I get home, or during my lunch hour, I’ll come back, I’ll make dinner, I’ll do the dishes and I’ll take care of the laundry right before I go to bed. I’ll wake up the next day and do it all over again. I’ve got the bills already taken care of, I’ve paid them this week, and I’m out of here. See you later.” For about a week, you as parents would be like, “This is pretty sweet, right? You can handle it, you do that, we’re just going to chill for awhile, take a vacation, check out.” But after awhile, you are going to begin to realize that this child that took on all these responsibilities is wearing every hat. There is every hat being worn by them and you are going to start to question, where do I fit into this family? They’ve got every responsibility on their shoulders, they are taking care of it all, I’m just kind of floating around out here with no purpose to contribute to what my family is about. Uniformity, that’s what it illustrates – that everything that one person does, everyone does that.
Unity is different. Unity understands that God gifts everyone in their own individual self to contribute to the family. For an illustration, think about the larger family that God has created within his church. The Bible says that God has gifted us all differently and the purpose of those gifts is to give them away so that we are a blessing to one another. The family is the same way. You think about husband and wife, you don’t have to go very far to recognize that there are some differences here. I like to joke sometimes and say, you sweat, grow weird hair, guys, and smell bad. And she doesn’t. And there you see the differences and you like that. Thank God that doesn’t happen to her. There’s a difference.
Recognizing the uniqueness in which God has created you helps the family not to life in uniformity, but to walk in unity. God’s desire for the family is to understand that everyone is gifted differently, however your family looks, and each person within that family works together to make a difference. In that family, as it experiences the unity that God has created them for, it makes them attractive and people desire to be around that and it becomes a blessing to the world. You think about our church family in that sense. When we live united together and God uses us to exercise our gifts for one another. That in that church, in that community, the beauty of that is that it makes a difference and people are attracted to that and they want to be apart of something that gives life and not causes death. When we talk about the word death, you’ll see this in James in a couple of weeks, but it doesn’t just mean physical death. The things that you spew in a relationship – you can literally kill the relationship. But when you’re working for the benefit of each other in this common unity towards a goal. When we’re talking about unity it’s not to serve someone so that they can achieve their personal goal in a selfish way, but it’s the common goal God has created for us. And when that happens, when there is unity, when there is joy in those relationships, it breathes life and people want to be around that. That want to experience that. When a church is living that out and they see it accomplishing what God has called it to in this world, it’s attractive. There’s life in that and people want to belong to that.
We say all this and when you’re looking at this and you think, “Okay that is just harmoniously beautiful. These families together, united, and they are blessing the world, but that ain’t me!” If you think about my family, maybe you say to yourself, it is the definition of disfunction. I got to tell you, all you got to do to feel a little at home is read the Bible. It doesn’t take long, God says this in Genesis 2, and then within a few verses Adam and Eve walk away from God and two of their children are attacking each other and one of the kills the other one. The idea of God setting this target was important for Adam and Eve to understand because it didn’t very long before they got off center for what God has created them in Him for. So through this disfunction you see within the very first family that it’s so severe there’s death, and there’s walking away from God. You could say to yourself, “You know, that’s comforting this morning, but that’s not what I want for my family. I want better. I want better for my family, I want better for my kids. So even though there is disfunction, are you telling me this morning that God’s desire for us as a family is that we can experience that, that I can have that?” I’m saying to you, yes. I think it’s possible. In fact, sometimes we get to a place where this is hard to believe, because family gets so stressful, but God created your family to be a blessing. God’s intensions for the family were good. God’s intensions for the church family are good. When we understand why he created us in this, then we can walk in that, we experience that goodness.
Now I’m going to just set a little platform before I go any further and say this. What God wants most in your family is the hearts of the people that make up your family. We’re going to talk about some “how” and some things to help your family and for us specially. But what I don’t want to walk away with is a bunch of to dos. What I want us to understand is that we’re all human beings and God has create our heart beautifully, wonderfully and that’s really what God is after. He’s not after us just changing our performance. What he is after is our hearts and community with him and with one another. That is really important, because that really sets the difference between living your family as a religious lifestyle and living your family in relationship. We say this as a theme of our church. We take this as a theme of our church into our homes. God’s not after behavior modification. He’s after heart transformation, and here’s why: When God created us, he created us for relationship in Him. When Jesus gave the two greatest commandments, he said, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and love others.” Those two commandments that God gave aren’t task oriented, they are relational oriented. God created you with relationship with Him, relationship to one another. I got to tell you, whatever your family is right now, however you would define your family in your life – the greatest amount of responsibility, or the greatest ministry you are ever going to have in this world is your family. God gives you an opportunity and a place, 24 hours every day, 7 days a week, to impact a heart for him and to to live for his glory.
So when we look at these passages of scripture and in Genesis it sets the president. When you study family within the Bible, every verse, I think, that relates to directly to family from here on out alludes to this, if not directly quotes from it. Jesus, when he talked about family in Matthew 19, he’s quoting directly from this. Paul wrote about it in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5. Peter wrote about it in 1 Peter 3, Paul also wrote about it 1 Corinthians 7. But all of it alludes back to this, because this sets the framework, the foundation for why God has created us. It’s not task driven as much as it’s relationally experienced. So when we experience that in relationship, one of the ways we experience it is through the things that we do, but everything we do is driven not towards behavior modification, not performance, but the heart. God is after the heart.
So when you think, “Okay, how does this look specifically?” Ephesians 5, when Paul writes it for us, he really gives a more tangible explanation for us, because he starts Ephesians 5 talking about the example for all of us. In a broader context, Ephesians 5 is saying, “Listen, church family. This is how we function within our church,” and he’s going to specifically then illustrate that to the biological family or to common family outside of the church family when get further in this text. But this is what he says in Ephesians 5:1, “Follow God’s example therefore as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
What he’s saying here is, the precedent for us in how we live our lives, has been set. If you want a tangible example of what it means to walk in unity and be a blessing, here it is. It is Jesus. Jesus demonstrates that for us and this is what he wants us to recognize as he calls us to live this out, is that you are dearly loved. God has lavished his love on you and you find your peace in him and that’s what gives you the opportunity in this to push back the darkness in other place of life. It’s because the place that you found security and family is in God. And it says, “And we walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Why? Well, in a family, no one is more important than anyone else. God is calling us to serve in this way because God has made us all beautifully, God has made us all uniquely and God has placed his value on us by giving us life and dying for us. No one is more important than someone else. So the way you approach family becomes very important because in society today we are taught very well to use and leverage everything for us. It’s about me being happy. I get married so that I will be happy. Everyone needs to serve me and everything need to tailor to me so that I am happy. The reality is when you start living live that way, in the end what you find is that no one is happy. People don’t want to live life just to serve you so that you can achieve whatever it is that your goal is, apart from everyone else. That’s isolating. It doesn’t allow everyone to develop a community together, on a mission together. It makes a bunch of individuals going who knows what direction. In the end you end up in a home of a bunch of individuals without any kind of common purpose or goal, other than they live under the same roof. So what he’s saying here is that in family, no one is more important than anyone else. God has set the example in the way that we are live for one another. I’m going to skip ahead, over the next 13 verses, but if you were to read this, this week, in Ephesians 5, what he does is he explains: here are alternatives to life. God wants you to live this way and experience this and here’s alternatives and in verse 15 this is what he says, “Be very careful then how you live. Not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
What he’s not saying is, “Get obsessive in every second of every day. Live it for that purpose.” What he’s saying to “make the most of every opportunity”, there’s a few different words for time in scripture and this opportunity he’s saying is under the idea of the expanse of what a family is. When you consider, when you take a step back and you at how family life should go, consider the scope of how to make sure, from beginning to end, there will be a difference made. What is the overarching idea that you’re going to carry to impact your family. As you do that, God will lead you in specific ways to encounter that family life. But consider it, don’t go off base. Be very careful in this, because the tendency within us is to loose hold of what God’s desire is within the family.
God calls you to be fruitful, multiply, subdue, two become one – the example for us is Jesus and the way that he gave himself up for the benefit of others. What Jesus saying, is that Jesus leverages all of his power and ability for the benefit of his community. Jesus gave his live for his church. Jesus humbled himself, even when he didn’t need to or have to, for your benefit. Consider this goal. Be very careful then in how you live, not as unwise but as wise.
When we talk about living as wise and unwise, God’s desire in that isn’t that you don’t confront obstacles. I’m not telling you to keep serving, keep serving and if something is unhealthy within your relationship, don’t approach it. What I’m saying is that even in your service you opportunity to approach things. The way you do that and the how that you do that is important, but God’s desire in Ephesians as Paul is thinking about the example, he’s encouraging you to stay in that example, and then he says this in verse 17 and 18, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the Spirit.” You come to a passage like this , and you say, “You know, I feel like in giving my live for my family, I feel like I’ve done that and it’s to difficult. I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m at my breaking point.” That’s what verse 18 is here for and it reminds us that really when you get to the end of yourself, that is where God works. Don’t be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.
God’s not asking you to put your family on your shoulders and you produce the result he wants in your family. What God is asking you, is for you to set the table so that he can work in the hearts of your family. Being “Spirit filled”, it talks about that for us. In fact, if you look this week, I know I just said read Ephesians 5, but this is what I really encourage you, to go through the book of Ephesians. I can tell you, there is a very important division in this book. You’ll see it when I explain it to you and as you read along, but the first three chapter of Ephesians explains to you what Jesus did for you. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of Ephesians is now allowing God to work through you.
So book breaks down like this: this is what God did in you and because of that, now God is able to work through you. God is not asking you to put this on your shoulders, what God is asking you to do is to simply set the table for him to be able to work through you in the lives of the people around you. If you are here this morning and you are thinking, “Oh man, I’m not a believer and you’re encouraging my spouse to just shove Jesus down my throat.” No, what I’m encouraging your spouse to, is to love the way that God has called us to love and to live. What I’m encouraging your kids to, or what I’m encouraging parents to their child to, is to love the way that God has called us to love. To give up ourselves for the benefit of that community. To walk in unity as God has called us to. Who here does not want that? To have peace in the home, but not just peace but joy in the home and to experience that. So he says in this passage, “be filled with the Spirt”, which means it’s not putting the omen on you to carry the whole responsibility to make your family perform the way that God has called you to, because we’re not talking about performance. What we’re talking about is allowing the same God who worked in you to work through you. And to leverage your power for the benefit of others.
Ephesians 1 starts off like this, “God has blessed you in the heavenly realm with every spiritual blessing.” And then it ends chapter 1 with talking about the greatness of how God is. But then it starts chapter 2 and it says this, “And you were dead in your sins.” You were absolutely dead, which means this: Jesus had no reason to come in and Jesus didn’t need to come in, because you are sinful before him. But Jesus came in anyway and he leveraged his power in your life to bring you to life in him so that you could experience relationship. God has blessed you in the heavenly realms, your God is great, you are dead. Then it says at the end of chapter 2, that God created this huge family out of it. God created Jew and Gentile, united as one in Christ. So not only do you see that you come to live in Jesus through that, but then God builds the bonds within family. Then it says in chapter 3, that this is why Paul went out into the world to explain this to people. To share the love of God to people. To understand how much God has blessed us. And in that, what God has done for you. God then works through you.
This is what I usually encourage families, when you operate as a family, if you want to understand how to really function, treat one another, what matters, I would tell you, Ephesians 4-5. If you could make those two chapters themes to your family life and how you guys are going to make a commitment to treat one another. It is a beautiful text to work through, but I can tell you even if your family wouldn’t be in agreement with that, even on your personal level in yourself, just to read that passage and understand what it looks like to function in God’s family. Understand how to carry that to your family. Be filled with the Spirit. I’m even going to tell you what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
“Be filled with the Spirit.” We’re given an example at the beginning, when talking about wine, when you drink and get drunk, wine controls you. You’re no longer, necessarily, completely cognizant of the decisions and things that you are doing. It’s messed with your thinking. It’s saying, “Don’t be drunk on wine,” or don’t be controlled by it, but rather this, “Be filled with the Spirit.” It means, literally, be controlled by the Spirit. Can I tell you, when it comes to the Spirit, this is important in understanding how the Spirit operates. The Spirit isn’t always one that comes along and gives positive feelings, and this is what I mean: in 2 Corinthians 11:14, the Bible tells us that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So what passage is saying to us is that just because you have a good feeling, doesn’t necessitate that it’s the right thing to do. Serial killers have good feelings about killing people – that’s why they are serial at it. But that’s definitely not a good decision. The angel of light, Satan, wants you to feel like certain decisions are the right decisions. He wants to mask things in ways that give you a positive feeling so he get you to walk contrary to the way that God desires to move within your life. So just because something feels right, doesn’t make it Spirit filled, which is a different kind of filled.
If you ask the Aposotle Paul when traveled to different regions of the world, like Philippi, he wrote and said he’s been shipwrecked, he’s been beaten, he’s been jailed. I can imagine I’m sitting beside him and he’s getting beaten, and I’m like, “Paul! Does that not feel awesome?” And he’d be like, “No!” Do you feel like you are filled with the Spirit and he’d say, “Yes! I followed God into where I am.” So the point is this, sometimes difficult situations are exactly what the Spirit of God wants you to step into. Be filled with the Spirit. Leverage your power and ability for the benefit of others. That’s what Jesus did. He took his position as King, and he stepped into this world and he used it to leverage, even though he didn’t have to. To serve. When we talk about authority, and giving up positions of authority. Just because you humble yourself to serve for the benefit of others, doesn’t make you less of a man. In fact, if you model after Jesus, I would say this, it makes you a greater man. It doesn’t demonstrate that you don’t have authority. In fact, what it says is that you have power under control. You understand how powerful that is to take your position as dad or father or husband and leverage that ability for the benefit of family. Ephesians 5, the encouragement is this, “Don’t be drunk with wine.” Don’t let other things control you. But giving your life to God allowed the Spirit of God to fill you to do this.
If I were to think of an illustration, or just think about the personal struggles within your own family, I think what this passage is says is that God is the one that created family. Spiritual, biological or or however it looks – God created it. And God is the one that desires to work in and according to his will. God’s painting for family is beautiful. It’s loving, it’s joy, it’s peace, it’s making an impact, it’s getting together in the hard times and working through it with one another. It’s having a team on your side. It’s having someone in your corner. It’s knowing that you can depend on people when you are on the mountain tops and knowing you can depend on others when you are in the struggles. That’s important.
Here’s what else is important: in order to accomplish what God desires, or in order to see God move that way within your family, it’s important to have God with you in doing that. So being Spirit filled, it welcomes him into your life. It means Spirit controlled. Here’s where it happens – it’s found when you lay yourself down before God and you say, “Okay God, I’m at the end of myself. Lord, have your way.” You are not changing people. As we go through this series together and especially when we start talking about chaos, and if you put the omen on just changing people and making people the problem, but can I tell you, whenever there is tension in relationships, the other person is never the problem. Can I tell you what it is? It’s sin. Your child or your spouse – they are not the problem, it’s sin. And as long as you keep attacking each other, you are never going to address the problem.
Paul gives us the opportunity in this passage to lay ourselves down for the benefit of others. Listen, this is what he says, not only are you laying yourself down for Christ, but it says this in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence of Christ.” When bad things happen, we tend to isolate ourselves. When you think of even people groups, if there are certain people groups where bad things happen, or there’s some relationship where bad things happen, we tend to just push it aside and say all of that is bad and move away from that. What the Bible is saying here is: rather than being isolated, if God is working in your heart, God’s moving in your life, God is actually using you to push back the darkness to reconcile in the hearts of other people. As God came into the darkness of your life and rescued you (Ephesians 1-3), God now uses you as the opportunity to work towards others. So isolating will never help, because God has now come into your life to use you as the light. So isolation doesn’t benefit one another. What helps is when someone takes their power and ability to leverage for the benefit of others. How beautiful that looks within the church, when that happens. In fact, I would say this verse echoes Genesis 2:18, when God created women, he said this, “It’s not good for man to be alone. I will make make him a helper suitable for him.” When you think about the giftedness of the wife or the husband, or the giftedness of people within the church, how that beauty just looks when it operates in serving one another and each other talents and gifts. So he says in Ephesians 5:21, he’s not even talking about family yet. He’s not even gotten to that verse – it starts in the very next verse after this. But in this verse he’s saying, to the church, to the community, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” That God has gifted you for that in each others lives and so when you press into one another and you lean into one another, you are leveraging your ability to the benefit of each other.
Think about personal relationships, maybe within the family. Maybe wives or husbands, one of you within that relationship is saying, “I’m leaning as far as I can right now, but I am about to fall over.” The other spouse finds a place here in these passages or in another person to find the opportunity to lean in as well, because this says, “Submit to one another.” Paul goes on from here. He then spreads for us the detail. If you are saying to yourself, “Okay, how does this look in submission to one another?” Well, the rest of the book goes on to explain that and the relationship dynamic. He begins by talking to the wives, he dives into the whole relational aspect of family living, but he says this, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. If I could just say probably the most popular Bible verse, ladies, you’d say that one, right? I can tell you, this is a healthy way to approach this verse. I know plenty of guys have gone to this verse and whenever you are in the home and the wives not agreeing, they say, “Hey, the Bible says you have to submit to me.” Let me just set the table. First guys, this verse is talking to women, not to you. Second, this verse is an example. He just said in the previous verse, “Submit to one another.” So guys, even if his verse is talking specially to the ladies, it doesn’t leave you without responsibility and submitting as well. It said that in verse 21. This mutual submission. So he’s saying in verse 22, you want the example, here it is, “Wives, now live that with your husbands. Submit to one another. In verse 25, guys, if you think quoting that verse to your wives is the way to go, let me tell you, verse 25 sounds way harder to me. “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her.” She submits, you go die. Ladies, I don’t know how you can use that later, but I hope you get the diamond ring. Except for my wife, I can’t afford it.
But then it talks about children. Children, you want to know what it looks like in submission? “Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” I know you parents want me to quote that again, so I will. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” You see it right now. Paul is laying it out – this dynamic of family. Surrendering to each other, leaning into each other, for the benefit of one another. And then in verse 4, look what it says, “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in discipline and instruction in the Lord.” I’ve just studies this passage recently in a book that John McArthur wrote, and when I say recently, I think I read a book last year on it. But he said something important in verse 4, I tried to remember the title, but I couldn’t, so here it is. He said this in verse 4 on the word “fathers”. This word for father in the Greek is actually the word for father. But this word can also be translated as parents. The ones that oversee children too. So I think he’s leaning into the fathers here, because he saying, “Okay fathers, when it comes to the family dynamic, I’m holding you responsible. But really, this could be with parents, and so he’s saying, consider the way you are using your leverage and power to encourage your children. Are you placing so much on them that can’t live up to the expectations?
Now, you think as a parent, when you have a baby, what goes into that. In the beginning the baby isn’t like, “How can I leverage my power for the benefit of this family?” They are like, “I’m going to wake up. I’m going to scream. You are going to feed me. I’m going to go to the bathroom. You are going to change me. I’m going to smile because I’m passing gas. Then we’re going to repeat the cycle. The minute I see you falling asleep, I’m going to scream to let you know that you fell asleep.” They are asking you to leverage everything that you have for their benefit. But over time as you work with children they see how they can contribute to the family. Where they fit in. What I think it’s saying in this passage: parents, fathers, don’t put so much on your children that they only fail. It just frustrates them. But rather than just discipline and instruction, show them how to succeed. Show them, contrary to the world, that life isn’t all about them. That in reality, when you live life in community you experience the joy of what life is about because God has called you to relationship. The reality, when you choose not to live in community, that what you end up doing is isolating yourself and you encounter people only to serve you and in the end no one is really happy with that.
Family, God created both spiritual and physical for the benefit of one another to the benefit of this world. When you answer the question, what God has created us for, it gives us the opportunity to leverage our power and ability. It gives us the opportunity to start answer questions and how can we work through conflict. Because when you approach conflict, or when you approach building bonds for your family solely focused on yourself, it doesn’t work.
This is what I know about counseling and counselors. When ever you go into a meeting, if you were to sit down with a counselor, and you’ve got some struggle in your life, as it relates to someone else, one of the first things they want to find out is if you are willing. Are you willing to work through that? Because if you’re not willing, nothing can work through that. But in a willing heart, all it takes is one willing heart to not give up. In Ephesians, that’s what the illustration is. You were dead. God’s heart was willing and inclined towards you. He didn’t give up. And in you, in surrendering your life, in Ephesians 5, being filled with the Spirit, God uses that to leverage for the benefit of your family. So I would say this in the end, just to consider within our hearts, is there hope for your family? Yes, and the reason why is, because to God, family matters. Here’s what the Bible tells us, that his Spirit is the great Counselor. In fact, in the book of John, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Counselor.
So this morning we’re not asking or we’re not saying to put it all on your shoulders and go fix it. What we are seeking together is a willing heart. But just as God miraculously worked in you, that you would give your life to set the table to allow the Lord to now work through you.
We’re going to talk in the next couple of weeks about when the family doesn’t function the way that you want it to, even though you are following after the Lord and you are surrendering your life. How can you continue to do that without giving away your happiness, but still allow God to continue to use and work through you.