Loving One Another
Ephesians 5:19-21, 6:1-9
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. NIV
The rest of chapter 5 concerns Christ and His Bride and the relationship between a man and his wife. Paul starts that discussion with the words in verse 21 Submit to one another out of reverence with Christ. How do we love God and love one another? It starts here. Reverence for Christ. Putting Christ first in all things, in all relationships. Christ is to be first. He is our Lord.
When we have the proper respect for God, for Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit, we are only then prepared to have the proper relationship with one another. Submit to one another. Put the needs of others ahead of your own needs. Husbands love your wives. Wives respect your husbands.
Now we pick up in chapter 6:
6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"-which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
Children, out of reverence for Christ, submit to God's authority and therefore obey your parents. This has always been the proper attitude for children. From the time God spoke the worlds into existence, this was His plan. Children honor your father and mother. The promise that it would go well with you if you do so was part of the law. Do you want life to go well for you? Do you want to enjoy long life on the earth? Respect your elders. Learn from the previous generation. Obey your parents out of reverence for God.
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
What does that mean, exasperate? Don't rule so harshly they are always angry and afraid of you. Rule with the gentleness that the Holy Spirit brings to you as you fellowship with Him. Be firm and yet patient with your children. Train them to walk in the Spirit and put off the flesh as God has taught you. Help them to know God. Instruct them in what it means to be restored to a relationship with the Almighty Creator.
Paul moves on to our relationships with others, those we work under and those who work under us.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 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.
7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
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. NIV
I do not think this is a stretch to assume Paul would say these words are for our relationships with our employers and employees. There is really only one Master for us who know Christ. We need to serve Him. As we serve Him, He will lead us to have the proper respect in all of our relationships.
Paul was giving us some very good advice about how to carry out the second greatest commandment here in his letter to the church at Ephesus. Praise and Thanksgiving to God should salt our conversations with one another. These will lay a foundation for all our other interactions. Then Paul says to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Our attitude toward other people starts here. In order to have the proper reverence for Christ we need to look for Him in other people. Assume God will speak to you through the people around you. Be ready to submit to them out of reverence for Our Lord Jesus Christ. This attitude should color all of our relationships: husbands and wives, parents and children, bosses and those working for them.
Homes where we love God and love one another, will be homes where respect and honor abound. Love for one another and respect for one another will be caught by our children. Children learn by the parents example. When parents are each trying to meet their own needs instead of seeking to meet the needs of others in the family, the children will learn this behavior and will not learn the proper respect for God and other people.
In order for us to be able to have the kind of respect and honor Paul is encouraging us to exhibit, we have to first believe that God loves us and will meet our needs. Otherwise we will always be trying to get others to do what we want; to meet our needs.
When we learn to love one another as Paul describes here, these attitudes will carry over into our other relationships. Paul speaks of masters and slaves here. What he says about them can also be applied to employers and employees.
Why do we do this? Why do we submit to one another? It is out of our reverence for and love of God.
“5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. NIV” Religion alone cannot create in us the kind of love for one another that Paul describes here.
It reminds me of what Jesus said to and about the scribes and Pharisees:
7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'" NIV
The word honor means “to prize”. When God told us to Honor our parents He was telling us to highly value our parents and what they teach us. This would especially be true for those parents who have a relationship with God. When Paul quoted the 5th commandment, he interpreted honor as obey. He said that children should obey their parents. This is not difficult for children who prize the values and words of their parents.
Honoring God with our lips and not with our deeds and actions, as Jesus said, is the very definition of hypocrisy. One of the complaints we hear most often about the church is that it is filled with a bunch of hypocrites. God is not honored when we are living a lie, that is, when we claim to be people of God and yet our lives do not demonstrate that we truly believe what we teach and preach.
This passage in Ephesians is filled with the idea of honor and respect.
Honor means to prize, to fix a valuation upon.
In Exodus 20:12, Deut 5:16, from which Paul quotes from the Ten Commandments, the meaning of the Hebrew word translated to the Englis “Honor” is very similar – it means to “give weight or value to”. When we honor someone we assign great value to that person and to their actions or attitudes.
The same word is used by Isaiah when he said This people Honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. This is the source of Jesus' words to the scribes and Pharisees in Matt 15:8, Mark 7:6.
Honoring God must go beyond our words of praise. Our whole lives should show that we really do highly value God and His Word. We follow Him because we believe He loves us and that it is a good thing that He is Lord of our lives.
We submit to one another because we believe God is working, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. We become God's partners in promoting Him to our spouses, to our children and in the work place.
Respect for God leads us to respect one another. Putting God in His rightful place leads to putting others in their rightful place.
Respect for parents when we are children looks different than respect for parents when we are adults, but it is all based on our attitude, first to God, then toward others. Love God, Love others.
Honoring, Obeying, respecting our parents.
When fathers treat their wives with respect and honor, the children will follow suit. If the wife disrespects the husband, the children will learn how to treat the father from her. They will also learn how to treat others, outside the home and in the workplace.
Submit to one another out of respect for the one who is Master of All.
How do you love God? You worship Him. You honor Him. You submit to His Lordship.
Out of respect for Him, you also love others, you honor them, you look for what God is saying to you through them. You value them above things.
What is important in your life? Who is first?
When you trust God to meet your needs, you will be able to work with God to meet the needs of others.
Love God and Love one another.