Ephesians 6:1–9 (NKJV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”Ephesians 6:1-4
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
In this continuation of Paul’s discussion on relationships, he moves to the bond between parents and children. He instructs the children to obey their parents, quoting the commandment to honor father and mother. He also helps them with the motivation that accompanied that commandment, stating that blessings will come to those who honor their parents. He then conversely instructs fathers (and by extension parents of either gender) not to provoke their children to wrath. In alternate translations, it is stated that fathers should not exasperate their children, Don’t instruct your children to behave in a way that you do not model for them. To expect righteous behavior from your children that you are not willing to exhibit yourself is exasperating to a child. Parents also have a responsibility to train their children in the ways of God.
5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.Ephesians 6:5=9
9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Paul then moves on to another example of how a relationship should operate. While this type of relationship is of an incendiary nature, especially in today’s political and racial climate, there is still some value to this example for today’s world. Paul did not support the concept of slavery. Neither the Bible nor the Christian church approve of slavery. Slavery is the imposition of one’s will upon another in an oppressive and forceful act of aggression to forced servitude. It is wrong! However, the fact is that slavery was a reality in the days of Paul, and he offered a way to handle the relationship that would at least show some level of Christianity. Bondservants (not all of whom were slaves by coercion) were to obey their masters. They could accomplish this by doing their work as unto the Lord, as good servants of Christ. When found in an oppressive situation, make the best of it and serve for the glory of God. Masters, in turn, were to avoid threats and mistreatment of their servants, knowing that God was their master was in heaven, watching and knowing. Therefore, even the bondservants and masters should exhibit a measure of mutual submission to glorify God.
While we do not see slavery in the mainstream societies of our world today, there is too much trafficking (slavery) in specific arenas. Sex trafficking, child trafficking, child labor and sweatshops are still present in the world and should be ended. However, there are many relationships where one is beholden to another that are not specifically slavery. Employees work for bosses and owners. Students are subject to instructors, coaches, administrators. We all have law enforcement and governmental officials to which we must submit. In those situations, do not make their lives harder, but work with them for the greater good, knowing that God sees not only their actions, but ours as well. Live a life that glorifies God. In so doing, your relationships will be mutually submissive, honorable, respectable, and full of love. Those are the relationships we must crave, and the relationships that God longs to see in our lives!