As we continue our study of “practicing what you preach” we arrive to chapter 6 of Ephesians. This lesson is extremely practical because it covers relationships. How important are relationships? If you have lived very long then you know that every aspect of your life deals with relationships. You have a family relationship with those who live with you. You have relationships with your coworkers or classmates. You have relationships with your boss. In fact, life itself is based on relationships. We come to exist because of relationships (our mother and father had some form of relationship). God, our Creator, is a relational God. He created us to have a personal relationship with Him. Again, the purpose of our existence is . . . relationships. What kind of relationships do you have with others? Do you purposely seek to build personal relationships with others or do you seem to have problems everywhere because of “bad” relationships? This lesson will help you improve every single relationship in your life. We want to learn how to relate to our parents (all of us have them or have had them). As parents we have to learn how to live with our kids, building personal relationships with them. As people, we all have to work so we will have to deal with a boss. Finally, some of us are bosses and have people under us so we must how to build personal relationships with them.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. (Ephesians 6:1-9)
- If you want to have good relationships with others, then you must first have a personal relationship with God. God has done everything possible to open the door for us to have a personal relationship with Him. The Bible says that we are all sinners from birth and that sin separates us from God. God remedied that by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins and remove the barrier between God and mankind. Our job now, is to accept the gift that God offers and enter into a personal relationship with Him. God urges us to build upon that personal relationship on a daily basis through: Bible study, prayer, and obedience to Him. Are you in a personal relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Do you build up that relationship daily by studying the Bible, spending time in prayer, and being obedient to God? If you are, the Bible says that the personal relationship that you have with God will flow out of you into ever other human relationship in your life. Let’s see how understanding this will impact our lives.
- The first relationship that will be affected by your relationship with God is the relationship that you have with your parents. Many times, children just do not get along with their parents. They (the kids) claim to know it all and say that their parents do not know anything. When a child or teen, enters into a personal relationship with God then he/she will respect his/her parents. How? They do it by honoring their fathers and mothers. To honor means to give respect, to obey, to look highly upon. Obedience is the sign of honor according to the Word of God. Why should you obey your parents? You should do it because it is the right thing to do. If you are right with God then you want to be right with people. Do you obey your parents because you know it is the right thing to do and it is what God wants you to do? Do you claim to have a relationship with God yet willfully disobey your parents? The question is, “is there a limit to my obedience to my parents? What if they ask me to do something that is contrary to what God teaches in the Bible, like murder someone?” The answer is found in the text. Obey your parents in the Lord. In other words, when your parents tell you to do something that is according to the Word of God, then you are to do it. If your parents ask you to do something contrary to the Bible, then you must not obey, because you have a higher authority, God and His Word. There are more reasons for obeying your parents as revealed in the text. The next reason is because it is a command from God. If you are in a relationship with God then He is your boss and you do what He says. If He commands it then you do it. Another reason is, there are great benefits for obeying your parents. There is a promise tacked on to this command. You will live a long life and it will go well with you. What good would it do to live a long life if things do not go well with you? If things go well with you then it would be nice to extend that goodness over many days.
- Okay parents, you are to be obeyed by your children but God also wants you to do your part with building a good relationship with your children. Many times, as people, being egotistical, we like to be obeyed no matter what, not thinking about our part in building a good relationship. God teaches parents how a good relationship with Him will impact their relationships with their kids. As parents, we are not to provoke our children. God speaks specifically to the fathers because men, we are to be the spiritual leaders of our household. We are not to sit back and let someone else educate our kids (using excuses like, that is for my wife to do, or the school system, or the Sunday school teachers). Those are all important but the #1 role model and mentor in kids lives has to be their fathers. As you teach your children you must not provoke them. As they grow, like all people, children develop “buttons” that can be pushed to set them off. When you life with someone for a while, you quickly learn what those “buttons” are. I can say one word or phrase to my wife and I know what the reaction will be every time. She can do the same to me, because we know our “buttons” well. Parents, do not push your kids “buttons” but instead work hard to build a loving, personal relationship with them. Teach them about the Lord. Show them your own personal relationship with God and teach them how to have one too. Instruct them in the Word of God. In order to instruct, you, yourself, need to have been trained in the Word of God and remain a student of the Word of God all of your days. Start preparing before you have kids so that when they come, you are well trained and prepared for the task.
- If you work a job then you are to build a good relationship with your boss because you have a good relationship with God. The Bible speaks of slaves here but we will speak in modern terms, giving the terms employer and employee (although, many people claim to be slaves to their jobs today). If you have a personal relationship with God then you are called to honor or obey your boss with respect. It is possible to do, even if the boss is a terrible one. How? You must look at your obedience and respect to your boss as obedience and respect to Jesus Christ. In fact, God has placed you in that position, with that boss, so that you can be an example and witness of who God is and what He can do in a person’s life. You can gain the respect of any boss by being obedient and respectful, which will open the door for you to share your faith with him/her. You are to be genuine in your respect and obedience, not just in his presence but also in his absence. You speak highly of him/her at all times. You do not just give eye-service to him/her but genuinely respect him/her. Why? You do this because you are not trying to please or impress people, instead, you are a servant of God and are seeking to please Him, by being genuine. You do what you do from the heart. Your motivation is the fact that no matter what happens to you on the job, God is in control and He sees your motives and will repay you at the right time (even if the boss never does). What kind of attitude do you have toward your job and your boss? Why do you do what you do? Do you seek to serve God even in your workplace, by the way that you do your job and respect your boss? If you have a personal relationship with God, then it will be seen in practical ways, even at your workplace. What would your boss or your coworkers say about your work ethic and attitude while on the job?
- Finally, if you are a boss, then God has some specific instructions for you too. As a boss, you are also to respect your workers by not threatening them. Leadership is not about standing behind and pushing people where you want them to go but instead, it is about standing with them and gaining their trust so that they will follow you. Alexander the Great was great because he lead his men by being with them, challenging them to follow him into battle. What motivates you to do this? You must never forget the fact that no matter how many people you command or lead, you still have a boss above you, God. God does not show partiality and even if you are a person of influence, if you do not obey Him, He will punish you. Many people are humble until they get a taste of power. A person who has a personal relationship with God will still be humble even when he is very powerful because he remembers that he is not the head honcho, instead, he takes his orders from his Master, God. As a boss, how do you treat the people who work under your leadership? Do you lead them by example or do you constantly threaten them with losing their jobs or pay? What kind of relationships do you have with those who work under you? Do you respect them or look down on them?
I hope you see just how practical the Word of God is. God wants to influence us so that we in turn, influence others for Him. What about you, do the relationships in your life witness to the fact that you have a personal relationship with God? Or is there a disconnect between your religion and lifestyle? What changes do you need to make? May God help us fully obey Him in every part of our lives. God bless.