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PARENTS AND CHILDREN (1): KIDS COUNT (Ephesians 6:1-3) Today we embark on a series on parents and children.

As with marriage, this is not directly applicable to everyone, but most of us, if we dont have children at home, have grandchildren and friends and acquaintances with children. The Word of God always has application to us. Further, our church experience is not merely to get it is primarily to give to love and encourage each other. For the younger to appreciate the elder and for those of us who are older to reach out to the younger to love, disciple and mentor as Paul urges in Titus. Thats why we come. So, lets continue to purposefully serve and appreciate each other in loving ways. Read Ephesians 6:1-4. Two new acquaintances decided to have lunch together. They talked around the world, eventually getting around to their families. Jack proudly announced, I have three boys. Bill sighed, Thats a nice family. I sure wish I had three children. Dont you have any children? asked Jack sympathetically. To which Bill replied Oh yes, I have six. Reminds me of a quote from Lillian, the mother of President Jimmy Carter. She had three children one became president, one a female evangelist, and one an irreverent, beer-drinking filling station owner, Billy. It prompted Lillian to comment one time, Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself, Lillian, you should have remained a virgin. In this passage, God is instructing parents and children in how to appreciate each other in Christ. He wants us to be glad that each other is there! Pauls three relationship instructions are governed by Eph 5:18, be filled with the Spirit, one major result of which is found in verse 21, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Foundational to successful relationships is submission to God and to others. So, all this wonderful instruction only works for those who have put their wills and rights aside and are willing to live for God and others. That is the underlying assumption. You have to want this, be willing to pay the price. The burden of Pauls instruction is how we may best serve others whether we are in a leadership or subordinate position. Serve is the operative word here. All are to serve leaders as well as followers. Now, we come to that second grouping parents and children. As usual, Paul addresses the more submissive role first, children. For the next few weeks we will look at
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verses 1-3, children under the outline I. The Recipients II. The Responsibilities III. The Reasons and IV. The Rewards I. The Recipients Were at verse 1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. The recipients are children. Several implications derive. A. Implications of the name The word children, (teknon) basically means descendants. It sometimes speaks of adults -- as in Romans 9:7 children of Abraham. Elsewhere it speaks of children of God or the devil -- followers of them. John uses it to describe his spiritual descendants in III John 1:4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. As used by Paul here, it speaks of children as opposed to parents. These children can think and act and follow instruction, but they are children in the sense that someone is responsible for them. We cant define the end of childhood with precision, but the word implies a dependent relationship. On the other hand, these are not babies, for which another word could have been used. They can understand their relationship to their Lord and commitments that come with it. They can exercise their wills responsibly. The word teknon then envisions those children living at home or being supported by parents as they are in the process of learning and growing up. These are children still living under their parents authority. B. Implications of the culture What was it like to be a child in the first century? I imagine some of our young people think they have it pretty rough some times, but you can be thankful its 21st century Eaton and not 1st century Ephesus. By the Roman law of patria potestas a father had virtual life and death power not only over his slaves but over his entire household. He could cast any of them out of the house, sell them as slaves, or even kill themand be accountable to no one. Furthermore, his control extended over the child's whole life, so long as the father lived. A Roman son never came of age. And, of course, no one gave a second thought to daughters sometimes even destroying them at birth. A man might be magistrate of the city, crowned with welldeserved honors, but he still remained within his father's absolute power.
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This power was seldom carried to its limits, because public opinion would not have allowed it. But at times it was, and there are instances of a father sentencing his own son to death and executing the sentence. Children under Roman law were completely and absolutely in their father's power lifelong. Things were little better among the Jews. Children were considered of no importance, meriting little attention or favor. They simply did not count. They were to be seen and not heard or better, neither seen nor heard. C. Implications of the instruction With that background in mind, lets consider three implications. 1. God Includes Everybody The very fact that children are addressed is gigantic. It gives them recognition as people. Perhaps stated another way it includes them. Just as we saw how the status of women was elevated exponentially under the teachings and actions of Christ, we see the same here with children. Christianity was unprecedented in its inclusion of the underprivileged, the downtrodden, those overlooked or scorned by society. It reminds me of the words written on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Wonderful words, are they not? No doubt inspired by the Christian principles that dominated at the time they were written. We are finding these days just how hard they are to live up to. Christians have not always lived up to Christian principles either, but the Christian faith above any other elevates the status of every man, woman, boy and girl. It sees them all as made in the image of God and includes all. Remember the parable in Luke 14:16-23: 16) But he said to him, A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17) And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, Come, for everything is now ready. 18) But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused. 19) And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused. 20) And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21) So the servant came
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and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame. 22) And the servant said, Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room. 23) And the master said to the servant, Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. No one is left out. Prejudice is done away by Christ. Paul said in Gal 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. That statement was never meant to do away with appropriate roles we assume, but it was meant to say no one is left out. All are invited. A man named Doug Sanvik told one time of his cousin from Norway who moved to America. To everyones surprise, she chose to live in NYC instead of the familys largely Scandinavian area of Minnesota. When asked why anyone from the land of open and beautiful fjords would want to live in crowded New York she replied, You see, in Norway we have only Norwegians. But in America you have everybody! So ought Christianity. The cross breaks down every barrier of human exclusion and say, You, too, can find forgiveness and acceptance in Christ. Come one Come ALL! And it doesnt just include children it actually makes their simplicity the requirement for entrance. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And here are the children, front and center in Ephesians 6 -demonstrating that God includes everybody! Social distinctions, rigidly observed in the Roman empire and even in Judaism, are transformed by the gospel so that those previously dispossessed acquire new rights and status. 2. Worship is a family affair Paul addresses children and parents in the same sentence here indicating he expects whole families to come together for public worship. They would praise God together; they would hear expositions of Scripture; they would serve each other and they would listen to the apostles letters read aloud and expounded. They would learn their own Christian duties and those of other members of their family. Together. This is the biblical pattern, dear friends. You see it over and over in the OT. Proverbs 5:7 is typical, And now, O sons (used generically as children),
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listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Children can and are expected to hear and learn and do the words of God. And it is virtually always filtered through their parents. We all know the passage in Deut 6:6-7, And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. His point is, Parents, use any and all means to demonstrate Gods word to your children. Show them you buy it and apply it. One way to do that worship together. Live it together. In Nehemiah, after the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem was complete, the people realized they knew little or nothing of their own faith having been in captivity for 70 years and apostate before that. So they issued a command to Ezra the priest. Bring the book. Bring the Book. And Ezra brought the book. They built a wooden platform and Ezra read and explained from early morning until mid-day. The people stood all the while (one of the reasons we stand in reverence for the reading of the Book). They cried as they understood it. Then they went and built booths for shelter. Ezra read for another 7 days as they stood and cried and confessed their sin and renewed their covenant with God. Then they dedicated their wall, and we come to the great verse in Nehemiah 12:43, 43) And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. They worshiped -- together. Just before he died, Moses gathered the children of Israel and restated the law for their benefit in Deuteronomy (which means second law restatement of the Law). Among his last words to them, he instructed the regular reading of the law in Deut 31:12-13, 12) Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, 13) and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. Moses command Read it to everyone. Worship together. Just like Pauls time. Families worshiping together. Thats why we include children in our worship services at an early age around 6 or 7. We provide a teaching time at their level at 9:00 but strongly encourage their worship with their parents at 10:00. I know thats not always easy. I saw a Dennis the Menace comic one time. Dennis, seated
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in church beside his father, looks up and says, Is it OK if we leave at half time? I wouldnt mind so much, but wouldnt half time be just before the sermon?! The temptation is always there to check out either physically or at least mentally, right? But, Beloved, God loves to see us together -different races, different economic levels (check out I Cor 11), different political persuasions and different ages. It warms the Fathers heart. Families need to worship together. I know that kids dont get it all. Of course they dont. But think what it says to them. This is important to Mom and Dad, so it will become important to them as well. They will learn the habit and they will pick up much more than you think. Much more! They are capable. Thats one reason we have childrens questionnaires. Replaces adult outlines. Helps keep them focused on what is being said. The worst thing an adult can do is drop a kid off at church and then leave. Think about the message that sends. Church is for kids like Trix! You might as well have them write it on the blackboard 1,000 times. The kid thinks, As soon as I am old enough Sayonara. It basically teaches kids that the gospel isnt important; Christ isnt important; faith isnt important. I know some will resent this, but I think it is one of the most devastating things parents do is send their children to church without going themselves. It is accomplishing exactly the opposite of what they intend. Worship together. Worship is a family affair. 3. Kids count Kids count. God uses Paul to write to children. Obviously they were considered mentally capable of comprehending -- and morally capable obeying. Christ thought so too. Turn to Matt 19:13, Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, Let the little children (notice little children) come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. What? Heaven is run by kids? No. I think He had the same thing in mind as when the disciples came to Him one of their inane questions. Turn back a page to Matt 18:1, At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Did you ever wonder, where does that kind of question come from? Well you may recall that they were constantly having this discussion about which one of them was the greatest. I guess they wanted to cover their bases for the life to come as well, so they ask, Well, Lord, who is the greatest in heaven? Is it Moses, Elijah?
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Daniel? The question behind the question do I have a chance? Ambition reigned supreme! But look at Jesus answer) 2And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Forget the issue of greatness. If humility doesnt characterize your life, you wont even be in heaven. Who is great will be the least of your concerns. He goes on --). 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. You think Jesus didnt think highly of children? Kids count. People ask me, do you really think kids can accept Jesus as Savior? Boy, do I! I think if we didnt come like a child in the simplicity and sincerity of faith they have were not saved. Sure some dont get it. Some will respond at every opportunity. But I absolutely believe children as young as 5 or 6 years of age can be genuinely born again. In fact, Jesus opinion, if that counts, is that none of us is saved unless we have come with exactly that kind of childlike faith and humility. He doesnt equalize us at the level of adulthood for salvation he equalizes us at the level childhood. Kids count. Ogden Nash once said, Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave when they think that their children are nave. Get the point? Your kids understand a lot more than you think. You cant start too young to get the Word of God into their minds and hearts. Samuel was only a child when God kept calling him directly and audibly in the middle of the night. He thought it was his guardian Eli. By the third time, Eli was smart enough to say to Samuel, You go back and when you hear that voice again, you say, Speak, Lord, for your servant hears (I Sam 3:10). And thats just what he did. Children can become servants of the Lord just like adults. Daniel was a mere teen-ager, between 15 and 19, when he was taken captive to Babylon and defied the orders of the one of the great kings in antiquity, Nebuchadnezzar, refusing to drink his wine and eat his food. He became a VIP at court by interpreting the kings dream. David was most likely a teen-ager when he slew the great giant, Goliath. Miriam was a young girl when God used her to rescue her brother, Moses, from the clutches of Pharaohs daughter. It was a little boy who offered his lunch to
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Jesus when all the adults presumably ate for themselves whatever they might have had with them. It was said of John the Baptist that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mothers womb (Luke 1:15). Similarly, the children who followed Pauls directive in Ephesians 6:1 would need the filling of the Holy Spirit as required in 5:18. Kids count. The great evangelist D. L. Moody was once asked, How many converts did you have last night. He answered, Two and one-half. You mean two adults and a child? No, he replied. Two children and one adult. A child converted is an entire life converted. Kids count, maybe double! Conclusion I am very grateful that my mom and dad were committed to the things Ive shared this morning. I can tell you that I sat through some pretty boring services (and Im talking Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night and any other time the doors were open). It wasnt all roses from my perspective. It wasnt always entertaining; in fact, seldom was. But I learned that worship is important. I absorbed very quickly, if this was important to Mom and Dad, I better listen up. I learned a lot more than anyone would have guessed, and when we got under some good teaching, I could appreciate, enjoy, absorb and live it. Mom and Dad didnt have all the great books and resources that people have today, but they had a commitment to God that shown through it all that I am forever grateful for. A little boy came up to his mother and said, Can I go outside and help Daddy put snow chains on the car? I know all the words. The point is, kids count, and they are learning something from you whether you know it or not. Why not have it be how to love and worship God on Sunday, and every other day of the week. Lets pray.