Ephesians 6:1–9comment (0)
November 18, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 6:1–9
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Our relationships with others are an extension of our relationship with Jesus. When a person is out of harmony with God, he or she is usually out of harmony with those around him or her. Our faith in Christ is most authentic in our daily relationships: What we live is our real standard, no matter what we may say. Consequently we who are followers of Christ are to treat people with respect. They all deserve respect because they are created in God’s image. Some also deserve respect by virtue of their position or because of the relationship we have with them. Yet many people disregard the biblical standard. Children and teens who sass or disobey their parents do not respect them. The same is true of some adult children who abuse or neglect their elderly parents. Parents fail to respect their children if they do not train them well or abuse them. Workers who do not give their best effort are not respecting their employers. Employers have no respect for workers if they abuse them. This week’s lesson calls for children, parents, employers and employees — as Christians — to respect others. The Spirit-filled life has responsibilities in all these relationships.
Respect for Parents (1–3)
God’s standard for children is that they respect their parents by obeying and honoring them. The tense of the command “obey” indicates that this is to be a consistent attitude and action. The apostle Paul was saying, “Because of your relationship with Christ, let it be the consistent habit of your life to obey your parents.” Of course, this command is directed to children old enough to understand it. The reason for this command is this: “If you do not learn to recognize God in this divinely arranged authority, it will not be well with you and you may die an early death, perhaps at the hands of the authorities.”
Respect for Children (4)
Parents must live as examples for their children; both mother and father are addressed with the term “fathers.” In the pagan world of Paul’s day, most fathers ruled their families with rigid and domineering authority. A Christian’s authority over his or her children does not allow for unreasoning demands or harsh discipline that evokes resentment and encourages disobedience. Christian parents are to avoid enraging their children and provide them with the guidance they need to grow in the Lord.
Respect for Employers (5–8)
Paul focused attention on a third set of relationships, this one having to do with our daily work. Slaves in the Roman Empire constituted the workforce, which did most all of the “blue collar and white collar” work. Slaves had no legal rights and were treated as merchandise. The master/slave relationship was filled with abuse. Today’s employer/employee relationship only dimly resembles that of the first century. But what Paul asked of those first-century slaves, he asked of Christians today. He called for Christian slaves to obey their masters, do quality work regardless of whether they were being watched and serve as though they were working for Christ. Today these same requirements fit well with respect for one’s employer (whether a supervisor, those above him or her or a company owner). We who are followers of Jesus show respect for those who employ us by getting along with them, doing good quality work all the time and keeping in mind our relationship with Him.
Respect for Employees (9)
Paul instructed the Christian slave owners to please the Lord in the way they treated their slaves. There was to be mutual respect between employees and employers. Both employees and employers are to relate to one another in the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit-filled boss uses his or her authority with justice and grace, never threatening people or being abusive or inconsiderate. We have respect for those whom we employ by being fair and compassionate. A personal relationship with Jesus and the influential power of the filling of the Holy Spirit transform every relationship we possess. Behaving according to one’s beliefs is not earning our way to God; it is rather the extension of belief into conduct.