As Beloved Children (5:1)
Many people (rightly) say that they do not know how to relate to God as Father. Usually this is because of the harshness or absence of their biological father. However, when we state the problem this way we distract from half of the problem. It is equally true and disruptive that we do not know how to be God’s children. In abusive or neglectful homes children are required to be miniature adults.
Children get to be protected as they play and explore their world. Children are allowed to make mistakes and then are lovingly corrected or instructed as needed afterwards. Children can rest in the fact that their parents will provide for and protect them. Children require that the same lesson be taught multiple times in various ways before it becomes a habitual part of their life. Children are encouraged to imitate their parents’ actions, words, and emotions and develop a healthy, godly character as they do so.
Reflection: As you read through the list (brief sampling) of what it means to be a child in a healthy home, what actions are unnatural for you. Do you know how to be a child? In light of this reflection consider Jesus’ words in Mark 10:15, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Then consider how Jesus’ rebuked/reminded the disciples of their relationship to God when they were worried about financial hardship in Mark 10:24, “And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!’”
Must Not Even Be Named Among You (5:2)
It would be easy to read these words in the tone of embarrassed parents scolding their child after the child sinned in public, “I don’t even want that kind of action spoken about our family!” But this is not Paul’s tone. Paul is concerned for God’s reputation and the church’s influence not his social status nor even the social status of any given church member. Paul would gladly be embarrassed so long as the Gospel was not disgraced (I Cor 1:17-31). This is why his words had influence; they were not about him.
It is important to note that Paul’s list of sins to avoid range from sleeping with your neighbor’s wife to being jealous of your neighbor’s i-phone. Paul was not being emotionally
reactive to a certain class of taboo sins, as if he were embarrassed to have to talk about sex. Paul was not annoyed by a problem that was inconveniencing him (Ephesians is unique amongst Paul’s letters because it does not appear to be written in response to a problem in the church). Paul is simply reminding the church of Who they represent and the importance being holy ambassadors.
Reflection: How much does embarrassment motivate your pursuit of holiness? When this is the case it reveals that we are “being good” out of a fear of man much more than a fear of God. If this is a struggle for you consider memorizing Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” When we are motivated by fear of man we are more concerned with the social fall out of our sin (who gets upset or offended) more than the condition of our heart (which we must see in order to be able to genuinely repent).
No Crude Joking
Paul is clear that crude joking has no place in the life of a Christian (Eph 5:4). This begins with making jokes about or finding entertainment in subjects of an immoral subject (i.e., sex outside marriage, violence, racial prejudice, illegal activity). All such behavior should be stopped immediately and repented of to God and to those with whom such actions were engaged.
A second area of application is making jokes at the expense of loved ones. The following types of joking demonstrate a lack of honor for one’s spouse, children, friends, or co-workers
- Verbal jabs about their insecurities or weaknesses
- Sarcasm (otherwise known as “violence through humor”)
- Comparisons to unbecoming people
- Complimenting someone else to get a “rise” out of them
- References to past mistakes or faux pas
- Condescending jokes in front of others
- Suggestions of leaving or being aggressive
- Derogatory remarks regarding friends or other loved ones
- Belittling their interests or hobbies
- Using nicknames that are unappreciated
We must remember that humor has great influence. Hence, funny commercials sell more products. We reveal what we value and shape those around us by our punch lines. Let us (frequently) use our quick wit, story telling, and ironic statements for the glory of God!
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.