Ephesians 6 v 1 - 9

Paul statements about relationships between parents and children and masters and slaves may not seem too controversial when we read them today. We may even be thinking that they could have been justifiably far more radical-what is this about masters and slaves anyway?-but for the first century they were not so contentious that the Roman Empire would have destroyed this nascent religion, but still demanded a complete change of attitude for most new converts. Slaves were treated as objects- according to research they numbered over sixty million in Paul's day- who had no recourse in the law courts: when someone became a Christian they would be sitting at the same table as the people they would not have even noticed, but who would have been preparing and serving food for them. Remember that Jesus performed the work of a slave when He washed the feet of the disciples. Surprisingly, Paul's statement about parents and children would have been equally sensational. If the Christian faith did much for women, it did even more for children. For the Romans, the son remained completely in his father's power, even when he was an adult. When a child was born it was the custom to lay it before the father and he decided whether it should live or die. If a child was born with defects it was considered normal to destroy it. Paul rightly and wisely perceived that a broken spirit is the plague of youth. If parents consistently criticise, demean and discourage a child then that goes with them into adulthood. Counsellors today would agree with Paul's summation. Here are three ways which even today we can do injustice to our children: 1. We can forget that things do change and try to bring our children up the way our parents brought us up. 2. We can exercise such control over them that we destroy their ability to make independent judgments. 3. We can forget the duty of encouragement.

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