“Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices” (Proverbs 1:29-31)
In Proverbs, Lady Wisdom gives her directions. She tells us that the way to live a wise life begins with a choice. Each of us must decide to live in the “the fear of the Lord.” It is the only way of experiencing real counsel.
I look to this collection of wise sayings from the Old Testament poetry because Paul sends me there with the words he gives to the Ephesians. The Proverbs were words from a father to his sons, and Paul gave words as a spiritual father to sons and daughters of his in the faith.
Ephesians 6 continues the pattern Paul began in his previous chapter. He centered on the home as the starting point for real faith action.
“Children obey your parents as unto the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).
Honor for our origins is what God is setting down with these words. Honor for father and mother — without them you would not be who you are. This points us to the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom.
Do we recognize that we came from somewhere, from Someone? Does the reality of this fact stir our hearts?
The Father made a man, and He made him to father. Be fruitful and multiply. The Man could not father until there was Woman. Fathering happens only when there is one and another. Two come together and are One.
Another first instruction was this: dress and keep the Garden. Use your words. Fellowship with the Lord and Love one another. Cultivate the presence of peace. Come together and be mindful. The Creation Mandate is what some have chosen to call this. That’s cold, academic term for making a home.
The Blessing of Obedience
“Children, obey your parents.” Adam, Eve, listen to the Father. Otherwise … well we know the story all too well.
Paul began this latter segment of Ephesians with, “Wives, submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22). Then he turned to the children and the power of their obedience. Honor your parents that “your life may long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2).
The first “children” of the Lord did not honor the Word about the Tree of Knowledge and so life is not as long as God intended it to be. The dishonor brought the curse — death and the bondage that comes from fearing it.
I marvel at how often Bible takes us back to the beginning, back to the place where we must consider, all over again, the power of these words: “And the Lord said …”
“Children, obey your parents.” I read this and my thoughts of the Garden run toward a sense of home rather than a picture of some unspoiled, idyllic setting of paradise. Consider this: Jesus said to the thief on the cross; “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” The death of Christ on the Tree of Calvary undid the disaster of the tree in the Garden. The thief was soon introduced to life in a family, the family of God, which he was invited into just before he perished for his life of crime.The death of Christ on the Tree of Calvary undid the disaster of the tree in the Garden. Click To Tweet
And that temptation thrown at Adam and Eve distracted them from making their home under sweet fellowship with the Lord. Instead of communion and conversation, there came the pursuit of knowledge, and this never-ending data collection has made a mess of things. The home – the family – first felt the full effects of the curse of the Fall, as we see in the Cain and Abel story. Brother struck down brother in a jealous rage.
So Paul’s focus in his instruction to the Ephesians was to build healthy homes. These homes, when led by fathers of integrity and care, would thrive.
Healthy homes result in better work attitudes, too. Paul addresses the master-slave dynamic. Be mindful, this culture of slavery was very different from the brand of slavery practiced in the American South.
Paul tells slaves to serve their masters. How were they to serve? As unto the Lord.
Ordered for Battle
All of the areas of life are only in order as they are ordered under Him. Home. Family. Business. Church.
Of course, it all leads back to Church. Healthy wives, husbands, children, employers and workers are what make up the assemblies that are under God.
These places are also the battle fronts in the unseen war that we operate in. And so Paul concluded Ephesians with this classic passage on the armor of the Spirit.
Head to toe, God has given us elements to help us stand and participate in the fight of faith.
We are to put on our helmets and think with God. The thoughts we have should center on how much we are loved by Him. Remember, Paul began Ephesians by telling us who we are in Christ. Let us choose to think with what is said about our position in the Savior who is seated above.
Such thoughts will fuel our faith, and such faith becomes a shield. That is, we can learn to deflect the negative things that are thrown at us. Why? Because we know who we are in Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. To think such thoughts more and more is how we put on the breastplate of His righteousness, a protection for our hearts that can grow weary under the weight of the world.
Imagine these very words about us as the sword of the Holy Spirit. Swing them at the enemy and his projections. Speak them out to the atmosphere of doom that hell tries to bring.
Outfitted this way, we are encouraged to move for we wear sacred shoes. These will guard our steps as we go where the Lord leads us.
All these things gain their activation through the practice of prayer. Never stop talking to God. Even if you’ve got a string of sad stories to tell Him, just lay them out there.
Ask God to help you put on these things. Believe, and receive His protection. Love Him. Love your family. Love you neighbor. Take His Name upon your lips. Praise Him.
If you call, He will answer. Let us learn to think with the psalmist:
“… Truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!” (Psalm 67:19-20).
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