Gracious and Loving God, help me make Your kingdom values my priority, rather than the priorities of popular culture.
Read Ephesians 6:1-9
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We know the excitement of getting a present–we love to unwrap it to see what is inside. So it is with our children. They are gifts we unwrap for years as we discover the unique characters God has made them” (Cornelius Plantinga).
In each of these sets of relationships, Paul outlines the normal pattern for relating, and then makes more radical demands. Children are to obey their parents. That’s been biblical teaching since Moses (Exod. 20:12), but then Paul addresses fathers, with advice not to be harsh, or provoke children (4). He wants harmony in the Christian home, with Christ at the center. This will bring a tenderness and humility to the demands placed on children. It will make a priority of time for parenting and helping children to grow in faith.
Similarly, there is nothing unusual in the advice to slaves and masters. Slaves are to obey their masters. This goes without saying as they have little choice, but Paul goes further. The respect slaves show for masters must be sincere and their service wholehearted, not begrudging, but done for Christ (5-8). This demand would seem very partial if Paul did not then tell slave-masters to treat their slaves in the same way (9). The idea that slave-owners should respect, honor and show consideration to their slaves radically parts company with the normal structure of slavery, but it is entirely in keeping with the mutuality principle in 5:21.
People often ask why Paul accepts slavery at all, rather than condemn it, but his purpose in writing this letter is to help Ephesian Christians to live out their faith in the conditions and relationships they are in. That way, he undermines slavery from inside. He says in Christ there is no slave or free (Gal. 3:28); the inequality of status is not recognized by God. God is the Father of both slave and master, and has no favorites. It’s not surprising that later Christians found Paul’s teaching their inspiration for emancipation.
Do you have power or authority in the lives of other people? Ask God to help you to exercise it with care and respect.
Lord, I pray for victimized children. Raise up leaders who will endeavor to bring them freedom and hope.
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