Children and parents
1Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says,2“Obey your father and your mother,3and you will have a long and happy life.”
4Parents, don't be hard on your children. Raise them properly. Teach them and instruct them about the Lord.
Slaves and masters
5Slaves, you must obey your earthly masters. Show them great respect and be as loyal to them as you are to Christ.6Try to please them at all times, and not just when you think they are watching. You are slaves of Christ, so with your whole heart you must do what God wants you to do.7Gladly serve your masters, as though they were the Lord himself, and not simply people.8You know that you will be rewarded for any good things you do, whether you are slaves or free.
9Slave owners, you must treat your slaves with this same respect. Don't threaten them. They have the same Master in heaven that you do, and he doesn't have any favourites.
Before we unpack this text we should recognize that sometimes chapter divisions fragment the flow and integrated nature of the Scriptures. That’s certainly true with today’s text – it follows on from what it means to “Honour Christ and put others first” Ephesians 5:21.
Happiness in the home, for society at large, is tied to having a positive outlook, cultivating optimism and reducing stress. According to WebMD expert Denise Mann the “15 Secrets of Happy Families” includes swapping stories, playing together, putting family before friends, honouring rituals, open communications, being flexible, inside jokes, encouraging sibling harmony, keeping your voices down, limiting after school activities, eating dinner together, putting the marriage first, enjoying each other, and not working too much or fighting in front of the kids.
Happiness in the home shouldn’t be the ultimate goal for Christians. While some of the things listed above are helpful, the goal for the Christian should be to honour Christ in the home. This is essential. The Christian home should first and foremost be marked by a love for Christ and an unselfish desire to put others before ourselves (e.g. “children obey your parents” v.1 and “slaves … obey your earthly masters” v.5).
Changing gear … I’ve often wondered why the opening chapters of Ephesians, devoted as they are to the great themes of grace and faith in Christ, move to a climax featuring the home. Maybe it’s because God wants us to know that the home is the building block of society (i.e., the health of the home directly affects the wellbeing of society at large) and that it’s in our domestic lives that grace and faith in Christ should be exemplified.
So let’s make sure our priorities are God’s priorities. Let’s raise our children in the way of the Lord (v.4) and treat those who serve us with respect (v.9). For in so doing we honour Christ. And more, when we honour Christ in the home we get much more than happiness – we’re blessed with long life (v.3) and rewards from the Lord (v.8).
Lord, thank you for my home. May my home be your home. I honour You in my family today and always. Amen.