Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
A child may ask his parents, "Why should I obey you?". There may be a number of reasons why, but fundamentally because it is the right thing to do. It is characteristic of the righteous to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. And this is what children should be taught - that there is a right thing to do, and you should want to do the right thing. In fact this is quite a mature motivation. For the immature are generally motivated by anticipating what they get out of it and not because such behavior is inherently good and right in itself. God is good and righteous not because of the benefits he gets out of it, but because it's inherent in his nature to be good and to do what is right.
In Col 3:20 Paul gives an additional motivation for children, writing, "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." Children are to come to understand that they can exercise behaviors that please the Lord to varying degrees, and that they should desire to please the Lord. It is good and a right thing to seek to please the Lord. "So we make it our goal to please him." 2Cor 5:9
Now as for the phrase "in the
Lord", it does not say "who
are in the
Lord", and thus is not limiting this to Christian parents.
Rather I believe
Paul is alluding to an idea of which I had previously covered, namely
idea that human authority only has a limited realm of authority outside
of which it does not hold legitimate authority. To obey your parents
the Lord" means that your obedience is with regards to the legitimate
of authority the Lord has granted your parents over you, regardless of
whether your parents are Christian or not; that is, obedience with
to things which are not contrary to the Lord's will.
Eph 6:2,3 "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."(Deut 5:16)
Here's an additional motivation for obeying your parents; namely because generally speaking those who honor their parents are better off for it. Parents characteristically have their children's best interest in mind. Which is not to say that they will necessarily act in accordance with what their children are interested in, but rather in accordance to what is best for their children. For given that "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" Pr 22:15, it is necessary they be trained to do what is right and good. "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Pr 22:6 Children that are untrained may literally end up dead. They may get involved wiht the wrong people, get involved with crime, drugs, sexual promiscuity, or the like, and end up if not dead, end up living a miserable life with miserable eternal consequences.
The immature are generally under the foolish impression that
life" constitutes fulfilling the desires of their sinful nature. But
fail to consider the long term consquences, issues of fate, corruption
to one's spirit and one's conscience, one's mind and body. And while
may experience temporal pleasure, they miss out on what life is really
about, and it's not about living for pleasure. The wicked are
"lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2Tim 3:4
"the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives."
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Likewise Paul writes, "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Col 3:21 While there are fathers who take little interest in their children, those who love their children have to be careful not to be too overbearing and demanding, or just plain annoying. Children are more emotionally fragile and impressionable than adults. Mothers are more in tuned to the emotional aspects of raising children, and by nature are generally more gentle than fathers. But children tend to listen to their father more so than to their mother. So fathers keep this is mind, your children may take you more seriously than you think. A passage related to this verse, that may be instructive to us all as we are being trained as children of God is Heb 12:5-11
"'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
So fathers, discipline your children, but do not exasperate them.
Eph 6:5-8 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.
In those days, the authority that masters had over slaves was rather extensive. Today there is the employer/employee relationship which is similar, but the employer's realm of authority quite limited in comparison. Nonetheless the principles of subordination and submission apply. In the Bible, Daniel and Joseph are good examples of serving under secular authority, men who submitted wholeheartedly without compromising their convictions.
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." Col 3:22 This is to serve with sincerity of heart. A good Christian employee is to align his will, his desires and intentions with regards to his secular job, to that of his boss, seeking not for his own success, but the success of his boss, without compromising his Christian principles. He is to be trustworthy and reliable among other things.
What if your boss is inconsiderate? "Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh." 1Peter 2:18 There's reward in doing so. "If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1Peter 2:20,21
"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive."Titus 2:9,10
Today in which the concepts of subordination and submission are bad words, these attributes are nonetheless highly valued assets among employers, just as they are for men seeking a wife. Such a servant is a rare commodity today. The way you serve on the job effects how you influence others. "All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered."1Tim 6:1 In fact conversely if you serve well, that may influence others to be open and investigate what the Bible says.
And besides, "Whatever you do, work at it
all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know
you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the
Christ you are serving." Col 3:23,24
Eph 6:9 "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."
Col 4:1 "Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven."
The relationship between master and slave is well modeled in the Christian's relationship with God. In fact many of Jesus' parables utilize a master/slave scenario in speaking of spiritual principles. An evil task master is portrayed in the Pharoah of Egypt who did not even provide straw for the Israelites to make bricks. If employers want their employers to accomplish a task, they should make sure their employees have the necessary resources to do so. Abusive employers will have to give an account of themselves one day. With authority comes responsibility. And with responsibility comes accountability. Christian employers should not be in the habit of threatening their employees. Not to mention it's a poor business practice, and usually does little to increase productivity in the long term. In fact the best companies look out for their employees interests, financial and otherwise.
Naturally with all positions of authority come the temptations of
and prejudice, or a sense of entitlement. Christians in authority need
to keep these desires of the sinful nature in check. Practice humility.
nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your
own interests, but also to the interests of others."