Bible Reading: Ephesians 5:1-21, 6:1-4
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1)
“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.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
After unpacking the glorious graces of our election as children of God, who God loves from eternity, Paul turns to the practical application of loving others. Because Christ loves us unconditionally, we are called to love those around us. However, an aspect of such love that we often miss is submission to others, as Ephesians 5:21 highlights, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”.
Paul then lists three areas where a Christian should submit; a wife to her husband, a child to their parents, and a slave to their master. How much thought have we put into submitting to our parents out of reverence to Christ?
Here we are faced with some tough questions. How do I submit to my parents when they don’t seem godly like Christ? How do I submit to flawed parents who have done more harm than good to my childhood? How do I obey when my parents don’t understand me and make absurd rules?
Yes, our parents are imperfect. However, the bitterness stored up in our hearts is a problem we need to resolve within ourselves. Previously, Ephesians 4:31-32 said, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
When we received Christ, we received forgiveness for our sins. God did not show us our retribution towards us. He did not punish us as we deserved. Instead, God led our ignorant and brutish life to a point where we finally realised that we were sinful and in need of a saviour. His love for us is unfathomable.
Because God first loved us, we ought to love others. And love means forgiveness. However hard it is, if we know the love of Christ, we will be compelled to love those who have hurt us, including our parents. We can love them and honour them because we love God and are willing to submit ourselves to His ways.
One of the hardest yet simplest things to do is to pray about these things to God. Confess to God all our pain and bitterness and ask Him to forgive us and wash us clean. Be sure that God knows what we are going through. On the cross, Christ was mocked and humiliated by those who He came to save. After that, we ought to also pray for our imperfect parents. If God has given us the grace to know Him and grow in Him, don’t we want our parents to receive the same?
Lastly, we ought to pray for the strength to honour our parents. Family relationships are often the toughest. Joseph was betrayed by his ten brothers, who threw him in a well and sold him as a slave just to get rid of him. However, when he met his brothers again after many years in Egypt, he did not rage with revenge as he could have rightfully done. Instead, he says, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:4-5).
Joseph knew that God had a plan for his life despite the evil his family caused him. Joseph did not deny his family food when the famine struck. Instead, he welcomed and forgave them. Is God calling you to be His light and witness within your imperfect family?
Lord, thank You that You are the true loving Father and that we are Your children. Please forgive us for all the bitterness stored in our hearts towards our earthly families. Help us to honour our parents and love our families. You have placed us in them for a reason. Please help our parents get to know You more and grow in the grace You have shown to me. Help us also as children to honour our parents and be a testimony of Your love and grace in our homes. In Jesus’ name, amen.