(I have separated out the different perspectives/roles found in the scripture passage Ephesians 6:1-9. What is in quote marks is the passage, and following are my comments. )
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “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.”
We have often heard parents, who are frustrated to the nth degree, say “that child is cruisin’ for a bruisin’” But most of the time they do not mean that. And I am not talking about parents who are abusive but parents who struggle to raise children to be responsible adults. What truly good parent is going to hurt a child? But seem children seem to know how to set their parents on edge. And most of those children, on the way or at adulthood, regret that at some time or another too. It is not easy to parent – so children, when you are of an age that you understand this, make it easy on your parents. And “honoring” them does not mean harming or endangering yourself, but acknowledging that your parents are trying to do the best they can.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
And parents (not just fathers) do not make life harder on your children. We all know or know of parents who tease, harm, or in other ways do not parent their children well. Either through deliberate or thoughtless ways, they harm their children. When your children are small, they are helpless and dependent on you. And as they grow, they will react to and against how you raise them. Raise them with care and respect, realizing to the very depth of your being that your children are from God – treat them with the care they deserve.
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”
We are, at one time or another, in “service”. It might not be slavery as it was in biblical times or times in our country’s history. But we are all in servitude in some way or another. You may not think they deserve the sort of respect and work ethic that God does, but your work should not be dependent on what they deserve, but what you are capable of. Do your best, and the reward will be there – either in this life or the next.
“And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”
Bosses, supervisors, overseers, managers – what ever name you may call yourself or may be assigned – you have a responsibility to the people who work under you, for you, and with you. Do not think that it will go unnoticed how your treat your underlings. And do not think it does not matter. It will matter greatly in the world to come. Fear that. But it also matters in this world, because your ill-treatment of them will warp and corrode you. It will change you in ways you cannot imagine. And, it is simply not worth it.
Beloved, we all hold power of some sort over someone else. It is the way of the world. Power and influence can be defined in many ways and can be a factor in relationships that we may not be aware of. Use can in how you interact with others. Let God’s law of love and compassion be your guide. Jesus said his burden is light and his yoke is easy. That is a good metaphor for us. Do not burden others down with things that are not necessary, and do not place heavy weights upon them that are not their job or place to fulfill.
Menno Simons wrote a very good admonition to the men of his time who took upon themselves power and influence. “O dear sirs, no, we warn you in faithful love: repent, rouse yourself, and look about you. Your preachers deceive you. With God there is no respect of persons. If you do not repent, are not born of God, do not become like unto children in malice, do not in love execute your office and service agreeably to the will of God, do not do justice to the poor and miserable, and do not walk in obedience to the Word of the Lord with pious, humble hearts, you will find your Judge at the judgment day. Beloved lords, take to heart this saying: Mighty men shall be mightily tormented.”
Beloved, may you use the power and influence that God has bestowed upon you with care and wisdom. Selah!