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22 Oct 2023

A Christ-Centred Home [Colossians 3:18-21]

Overview

The new resurrected life of a Christian is reflected in his obedience to Christ in all areas of life. And one of these areas is that of the family life. He will be a different spouse, child and/or parent, even if the people around him remain the same. The difference is all because of Jesus. Tune in to this sermon where you can discover the "why", the "what" and the "how" of the Christian home. Find out God's will for your life as a husband, as a wife, as a child or as a parent today!

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As a church, we've been journeying through the book of Colossians and we come now to chapter 3 and verses 18 to 21.

I'd like to remind you that the book of Colossians really focuses on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord of all. He's the Lord of all creation because all things are created by Him and sustained by Him. He's also the Lord of the new creation. He's the Head of the church, the people gathered to God through His life and sacrifice for us.

The tremendous privilege of a Christian then is that we are united to this Supreme Lord of all. We are so united with Him, the Bible says, that when Jesus died on the cross, we also died with Jesus. And when Jesus rose again the third day, we also rose with Jesus. Paul speaks about that union with Jesus seen in the death and the resurrection of Christ.

We are now dead to our old life. We don't have to follow legalistic things in order to earn favor with God. We have died to those things. We are in grace, we are in Christ. Not only are we dead, we are alive, we are raised to a new life. So Paul says in chapter 3 and verse 1, if then you have been raised with Christ, so united with Him, you are raised with Him, then seek the things that are above.

That means to pursue, to desire, to seek after heavenly things. When we speak about heavenly things, as was, I think, explained a few weeks ago, this is not about some fantastical, imaginary world. But to seek things above means that we seek to obey Christ in our everyday lives. Jesus sits at the right hand of the, of the Father. That describes His absolute authority and dominion and we are to seek that dominion of Christ in our everyday life on earth today.

Purity In Life

What does that look like, you ask? Sounds very abstract. It's not abstract, because Paul goes on to explain these kind of seeking of heavenly things will be expressed, number one, in the purity of your life today. You will, because of obedience to Jesus, put away the sins of your life, whether it's sexual immorality, evil passions, lusts, covetousness, anger, slander, malice, you will put all that aside, pursuing holiness in personal life.

Unity In Church

And then he says, as we learned last week, you will pursue that unity in, in the church, in the body of Christ, that the peace of Christ will be the umpire in your hearts, deciding on what you do, what you are to do. You will be bearing with one another, forgiving one another because that's what obeying Christ today will look like. We would endeavour to preserve the unity of the body in the Spirit.

Order In The Household

Today we're going to see, thirdly, a life dedicated to pursuing obedience to Jesus will be expressed in the family, in the household. And that will take us to actually chapter 4 and verse 1. But because of time, we will break off at verse 18 first. But that's part of what it means to seek the things that are above. And in two weeks' time, we're going to look at how that will be expressed in our prayer life and also in our witness before a watching world, before people who do not know Jesus. So all this is what it means to live life in obedience to Jesus.

So as mentioned, we're going to look today at order in a household and just a exciting thought for you before we go into the details. And that is this, you don't have to go overseas to be a missionary in order to serve God today. There are some people who think that serving God is only reserved for those who brave their lives, cross the seas, and give the Gospel to a foreign people. That is wonderful, but that is not all there is to service and worship to God.

We can seek things above in our homes today. You can serve God as a husband. You can serve God as a wife. You can serve God as a child. You can serve God as a parent. Serving God is what we can do in our homes.

Some other clarifications I'd like to give before we look into the details is that being a good husband, being a good wife, being a good child, being a good parent, they are not what you do in order to get saved. Let's be very clear, because the order is you have been raised with Christ. You are already joined in Christ. You are already, if I may say, forgiven in Christ, then these are things you do.

So being a good husband is not the means to salvation, but the manifestation of someone who is saved. These are not the requisites or the requirements to salvation, but they are the reflection of someone who has been saved. So let's be very clear, the motivation of why we do what we do is not to get God's favour to save us. But the motivation behind it all is because God has already forgiven us in Jesus Christ. So out of gratitude and love for Him, we want to obey Him in our homes.

Second thing I want you to notice is that all that we are going to talk about here is rooted in Jesus. In other words, the reason why we do what we do is Jesus and not because of your husband or not because of your wife or not because of a child or not because of your parent.

You see, a common thing people talk about is, you know, pastor, you don't understand, I can never love my husband, I can never submit to him because you do not know what kind of horrible monster he is. And so, when we look at our husband or when we look at our wife, we find some excuse, if I may say, to excuse ourselves from having to submit or to love and to obey and to discipline.

But this passage does not speak about the worthiness of your spouse or your child or your husband. It's anchored in Jesus. I'll explain more when we come to the terms, how this is fitting in the Lord and how this pleases the Lord. It's a God-centered motivation. Don't forget that.

And the last thing I'd like to clarify is that this is a passage for us to examine for ourselves and not for us to listen to stock up ammunition so that you go home and shoot your wife or your husband. You know how it is when people go for marriage counselling? Pastor, I want to see you. I ask, why? Because my husband is terrible, please help him. Very few people say, pastor, I want to see you because I need help myself.

So the common mindset is, I want to talk to you so that you can fix him. Sorry, I can't fix him. I can't even fix myself, really. But if you come and say, I want to know God's Word so that I may be able to repent and obey before God, then I say, yes, let's look at the Scriptures together.

So as we look at this passage, I hope you are listening with a mindset that says, what am I to do? So you really need to pay attention only maybe half of the time here. Or three quarter of the time if you are a, a wife and also a child and also a parent. Uh, you can switch off at some parts if you like. I hope you will listen, of course.

So let's look at this passage about a Christ-centred home. Verses 18 to 21, a simple rundown of the verses, four roles and responsibilities to look at. First, we begin with what Paul begins with and that is to the wives.

Wives,submit to your husbands

Wives, submit to your husbands. This is critical to a happy, healthy, holy home, absolutely critical. A wise man once said, before a man is married, he is incomplete. After he is married, he is finished. I hope that husbands here are not finished. I hope husbands here are flourishing. And in order for husbands to be flourishing, I think it is critical that the wife would also do her part and that is that she would understand submission to her own husband.

The word submission in the Greek means to rank under, to put yourself under the lead of someone else. In the military setting, you would understand, subordination or submission would be that I would submit myself under my superior, whether it's a sergeant or an officer. And I'll do all I can to fulfill what he is commanded to do, his mission.

And a wife submits herself, ranks herself under her own husband. The question is why should a wife submit herself to her own husband? Some of you may already be asking this question. This is so ancient, this is so old-fashioned, this is so archaic. Don't you know today women are more capable than men? Don't you know that women score better in their exams? Don't you know that I earn just the same as my husband, if not more than my husband?

So you say, you know my husband, PSLE 198, PSLE 276, why should I submit to him? O-levels, A-levels, you, I all beat him in all my grades, you know, why should I submit to him? And you look at the pay, I earn twice the amount he does. So today, women, because they are more educated and so on, they may feel like this is not relevant anymore because they are smarter and more capable.

But let me say to you, this principle is not open to our own evaluation. It is also not open to negotiation. It is not open to competition. This is what God has ordained. Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting or proper in the Lord. This has nothing to do with capacity or ability. This is about God's ordained order.

When God made Adam and Eve, He made Adam first and from Adam He made Eve. It's not the other way around. And He also clearly said that Eve is to be a helper fit for Adam. So that is the role of the wife, right at the beginning of creation.

By the way, some of you don't like to be called helper, sounds very inferior. But I want to suggest to you, the Bible doesn't look at the role of a helper as someone who is inferior. For example, the Holy Spirit is called to be our Helper, but the Holy Spirit is clearly not inferior to any one of us. So, wives, submit to your own husbands. That is not to say you're inferior to him in any way. That's not to say that you're not smarter, or you're not more capable, or you're not earning more. But it's saying you recognize God's ordained role for your life. And you're doing this because this is proper in the Lord.

You're doing this because of obedience to Jesus. And you do this because you recognize Jesus gave His life for you, and you're so united in His death and resurrection, you want to obey Him in everything, including your home.

Having said that, we must understand this is extremely difficult for the woman. At least, from the women I have around my life. I know it's not easy. It's not automatic, it's not natural, it's not instinctive, really. We want to be the masters of our own lives, we want to control, and I think women, I guess like men, we, we want control.

On top of that, it's very hard for the lady because I think it's rooted in the curse. In Genesis 3:16, the Bible says, as part of the curse that God has given to man as a result of the sin, such as cursing the ground, you shall die, you shall have pain and difficulty in conception, included in that is how God said to Eve, your desire shall be contrary to your husband.

There will be this temptation and tendency for you to play that tug of war at home. You will want to rule over him. The details are explained in the sermon in Genesis 3 if you'd like to check it out further.

A couple was having their anniversary trip to U.S. and they went to the Grand Canyon. And when you go to the Grand Canyon, you can choose to see it from the top or you can choose to walk along the floor. But to go down to the floor, you, you can't just jump down, there's no escalator. Sometimes you need to ride on mules. So this couple got down on their mules or got on their mules, one each, and they went down to the floor of the canyon.

The mule that the lady was sitting on, however, stumbled, tripped up a little. And she said to the mule, that's one. They went a little bit further and the mule tripped again and she said, that's twice. They went a little bit further and the mule tripped again and she said, that's three times. She whipped out a revolver from her handbag and shot the mule dead. The husband was aghast, how can you do this to this poor mule? And she said quietly, that's one.

I'm not sure about you, but many husbands fear their wives for all kinds of reasons. And our wives actually have a lot of control at home. Uh, it is said that, someone said, my wife is in charge of all the small decisions at home. I'm in charge of the big ones, like when does US pull out of Iraq and so on. But the reality is, many women run the show at home, they are the kings or they are the ones in control. It's not easy for the lady, for sure. But the Bible is clear that we do this as unto the Lord, as is fitting in the Lord.

Now, some of you may have questions. What do you mean submit to my husband? Do I really need to submit to him in every, these are FAQs, right? Do I really need to submit to my husband in everything? What do you think? Do you need to submit to your husband in everything? I see some shake head, don't dare to say no. What's your answer? That's a very robust yes. Very convinced.

Well, the Bible does not leave this to our speculation. Uh, it says in Ephesians 5:24, the wife should submit in everything. Now, I think we must have a caveat for this of course, if the husband tells the wife to commit sin, like the husband tells the wife to go murder someone, I don't think the wife is obligated to do that. In that case, I think the principle in Acts 5:29 is valid, that we should obey God rather than men, because that's a clear violation of God's will as described in the Bible.

But apart from sinful things, I think the wives are to submit in everything. That means if the husband wants to eat curry chicken, but you want to eat salad, and your husband is quite insistent he wants curry chicken, then you eat curry chicken. By the way, I'm not a curry chicken guy, I'm just using that as an example. Or in your home, you have this wall, and you want to paint it, the husband wants to paint it purple. But the wife says, no, I want to paint it pink. And if your husband insists it's going to be purple, you still paint it purple. Hen nan kan? Purple. In everything, including purple walls. That's what it looks like.

Some of you may ask, what if my husband is not a Christian? Do I need to submit to him in everything? What do you think? Yes or no? Yes. Yes. Well, the Bible again is crystal clear on this matter. Uh, we can see that this has no qualifier. Wives should submit in everything to their Christian husbands. It has no qualifier to their smart husbands, to their rich husbands, to their capable, nothing, just to their husbands.

And so, we are given clearer instruction here, likewise, wives be subject to your own husbands, even if some do not obey the Word. That is to say, they do not believe, nor repent, nor obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are not Christians. Even if they are not Christians, you subject yourself to them so that they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.

So God's will for the wife is not to say, oh, I'm a Christian and you are not, therefore I don't have to submit to you. Actually, I'm a Christian, you are not, all the more, I need to demonstrate what true submission looks like. So that perhaps one day, you will sit up and remember and realise that my submission to you is not natural. It is supernatural. It is God at work in my life and maybe one day, you will come to faith in Jesus.

This is extremely precious to God, as we read how Peter says, this imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. So wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.

I've spent quite a long time on this, so I need to move on to the husbands. In the first service, when I said that, someone did this. The lady, one lady said, yes! Uh, I, I'm thinking she's celebrating the end of the exhortation for the wife, now we are moving on to the husband. Now, I go to the husbands, I know the husbands might be saying, can you say a bit longer in this? I say, gao liao lah, I need, I need to cover four things, right?

So let's move on to the husbands and I hope again the attitude is not so much that the wife is now going to listen to the husband's portion and say, you see lah, you see lah, never do, always cannot make it. I, I hope that's not what you're trying to achieve here. But as you hear these things, you would pray for your husband and ask God to help him be the man God wants him to be.

And husbands, I hope you listen now, don't fall asleep, the wives can fall asleep I suppose, but husbands, please don't fall asleep, it's your turn, it's our turn, alright? So what does the Bible say to husbands?

Husbands, love your wives

The Bible says husbands, love your wives. Simple few words but extremely difficult to do, especially for the husband. I think generally it's quite easy for a wife to show love to the husband, but difficult for her to submit. And on the flip side, it's very hard for a husband to love their wives.

A couple had some marital challenge, they went to see the counsellor and after hearing from the man, the counsellor said, I think I know the problem. So he stood up, went over to his wife, gave a big hug to the wife and said to the husband, now you do this every day. The husband looked at the counsellor, thought for a while and said, okay, what time do I bring her tomorrow. He doesn't know what to do.

Now we have a hard time expressing our love, we have a hard time loving our wives. And that's because, I, I, I venture to suggest, the reason why it's so hard for men to love is because we are so selfish. I think I speak this from experience, personal experience, I'm extremely self-oriented. And it's very hard to think beyond myself, but that's what God calls us to do.

It's quite interesting in that, I think this is the example I have in my family, that when I'm sick, my wife will be the one who asks, have you taken your medicine? And if I'm still not taking my medicine, she will go and get the water and the pill and bring it to me. But when she is sick, I say, aiyah, never mind one lah. You know where the medicine is, right? So self-oriented.

You see, love is not a feeling only. Love is not liking. Love is sacrificing. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.

So the husband has a clear leadership role. The wife is to be the helper, the husband is to be the leader, and his role is to protect and to provide for his wife. His role is to sacrifice for the benefit of his spouse. And that is not easy for us, sacrifice.

So let me ask you practically, husbands, how can you love your wives today? How can you sacrifice yourself for her? What can you do to show you love your wife? That's the question. In the first service, someone shouted very, not, not someone, a few said this at the same time. What would you suggest are things you can do to love your wife? Okay, maybe this congregation is not so materialistic. But the first service, they say, give me money, or buy me a bag, spend some cash on me.

Well, I'm not saying that's wrong, that's proper in its right balance and context. But I want to suggest a few things that doesn't really need you to pay at all. That whether you're rich or poor, we can do. So the first suggestion I'd like to give you is give your wife your ears. It's free, it came with the package when you're born, don't need to pay one. And you can use your ears to love your wives. That is to say, listen to her.

The Bible says to dwell with our wives with understanding, to get to know her. And I don't think you can get to know her without listening to her, hearing from her. And I think women love to be heard. Women love to share. I think across the board in our church, whether it's cell, uh care groups or discipleship groups or, or small gatherings, I think the ladies spend far more time chatting than the guys do. Ladies love to share. And I think it will be helpful, it will be loving for the husband to spend time also listening to their wives.

Another thing I suggest maybe we men can do better is to use your mouth. Uh, this is not a symbol for kiss ah. Ah, huh, uh what your wives want is for you to use your lips to speak affectionately and affirmatively to her. Say I love you. Someone was having this marital quarrel and the wife says, you know what's the problem? You never say I love you. To which the husband protested, I did what? Who say I never say I love you? When did you say I love you? I said it. When? On our wedding day. And if I change my mind, I'll tell you.

But that's not quite the way women operate or appreciate. We would do better if we could affirm our wives also with our lips, words of encouragement, of affection, of love.

The third thing is more, even more practical I think is to use your hands. Use your hands to serve your wife, to wipe or clean the dishes, to clean the toilet, to do the chores, to give her a good massage, to drive her around, acts of service with your hands. Something we all can do. But I think it will be great for us to do these things but I, I suspect for a Christian woman, the most important thing you can do for your wife is that you'll be a good follower of Jesus Christ yourself and lead her upon the same path.

After all, that's what is said in Ephesians 5 that we should be sanctifying our wife with the Word. And I think spiritual godliness and leadership and discipleship in that area is critical in the home. I think if you could do this, your wives would really appreciate it.

Again, I want to remind you, husbands love your wives not because your wives are perfect, not because your wives are fantastic, not because your wives are flawless and they never agitate nor irritate you. No, you do this because of the Lord. You do this because you are raised with Jesus. Let's not forget that overarching principle that we must grasp. That's the motivation, come what may.

What is unique here in Colossians that is not mentioned elsewhere is that Paul says, husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Very interesting. Do not be harsh with them. The, the Greek word is the word pikrain? which means to be embittered, to be bitter. Some versions translate it to be, do not be bitter against them. Some versions translate it like ESV, to be harsh with them. I suppose the basic meaning is that you are bitter against them and you will express it in harshness towards them.

And this is where I fail so many times in my own marital life. And I really have no excuse. I know the Bible, but I'm not doing it consistently. So often, I, I get frustrated or disappointed with maybe my wife and what she has done or she has not done. And I allow that disappointment and frustration to grow to become a kind of bitterness, to become a kind of resentment. And that will be expressed in the way I treat her.

Now I do not bash her up, I do not beat her up, but I think I'm harsh towards her in the things I say and in the way I say it. Not just the words, but the tone, or maybe in the way I cold shoulder her. And that's all because I've been looking at the wrong place. I've been looking at her and say, well, you failed me, you disappointed me, and so I can have the right to treat you in an unloving way. But that's unbiblical. Because I'm not to look at her per se, I'm to look at God and Christ and what He has done.

So often, I have to go through that cycle of guilt and shame and enter into repentance and obedience. And if you're like me, this probably is your experience as well.

Someone said, the hardest thing about the Bible is not the passages that we don't understand. The hardest thing about the Bible is the things that we understand and don't do. That's the hard part. I hope today this simple statement for all of us as husbands would not just be something we kind of hear and park at the back of our minds, but by the grace of God, we will strive to do.

Now, if your wife is wonderful, fantastic, that's a tremendous bonus. It helps us, for sure. But even if she fails you, or if she's not as perfect as you want her to be, there's no excuse. We do it unto the Lord.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Thirdly, let me shift because of time, let's look at children. Children here, this word refers to children of all age groups. There's no specific age limitation here. And the principle, I think, is that the children are still being raised in a home and children, the Bible says, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. It's a very challenging thing for people today.

A teacher resigned from her job, frustrated at her work in a school, and she wrote this. The teachers are afraid of the principals, the principals are afraid of the parents, the parents are afraid of the children, and the children are afraid of no one.

And that's the society we live in today. And so when we look at this verse, it seems very difficult. It seems almost like, why should I obey my parents? Well, first of all, I want to remark that this is a wonderful insight into the gathered church in the New Testament. That when Paul wrote this letter, intending it to be read by the congregation, by the people, he knows that there are husbands and wives and there are children. And there are children who, I think, know the Lord Jesus Christ.

So he writes to tell them, you do this because this pleases the Lord. You are a Christian, you are a follower of Jesus, so do this because this is God-pleasing. I think it's a wonderful blessing and privilege if you should have children who truly know the Lord. Now, I'm not saying children who simply say they believe, but there is an evident work of the Spirit in their lives in that they know Jesus. It's not a borrowed faith, it's a personal life-changing faith, it's a wonderful blessing.

And if I might, if I may suggest also, it's not such a terrible thing for your kids to be in an adult worship service together. We, we are so familiar with the idea that if I come for a worship service, my kids must be parked in a children ministry specifically for them. I think that's a wonderful thing too. But I think the New Testament offers us an insight how children could sit together with the parents, hear the reading of the letter, and if you say the Bible preaching is very chim, well, it's the same thing they read last time. It's not such a bad idea for your children to attend worship service together that they understand what is the corporate worship all about, what is the body of believers to be all about.

Alright, I've said a lot, but let me just go on to this specific imperative, this command. Obey your parents in everything. This is not new, this is very anchored in the Ten Commandments. In the Ten Commandments, commandment number five would be to honour your father and your mother. So that obedience flows from an attitude of honouring your parents.

And this is not difficult, especially in our Asian context. Many Asian cultures value filial piety. So we have a Chinese word, for example, it's the word, word xiao or xiao shun, xiao, not ki xiao, but uh filial piety. The etymology of the word is interesting. It's I think consisting of two words, lao and zi. Generally, the parents are lao, they're the elders, uh, you call them the elder, and then you have the zi which is the child, and the word xiao is when the lao is above the zi, not the zi, above the lao.
So when you have an esteem and preeminence to the parents, to the elders, you have what it means to be filial, to honour your parents. The Old Testament is filled with instructions about honouring the parents. For example, in Proverbs, we read, Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching. So mothers are involved, a wise son heeds his father's instruction, a fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence, wisdom.
A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him. If a man curses his father or mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness. The corresponding promise in Exodus 20 is that they may live long when they honor their parents. Listen to your father who gave you life and do not despise your mother when she is old.

And in ancient Israel, under the Mosaic law, when there is this theocracy, when God rules over them, anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death. And anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. So, obey your father, your mother, your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

See, some of you might be thinking, my mother, not so clever, my father is a fool, I'm smarter. I score higher in my exams, I'm more tech-savvy, I watch more TikTok videos than them. I know all the urban slangs. They are not cool. I don't have to listen. Nope, the Bible says you obey your parents in everything.

A story is told by Laura Bush. She is the wife of the former U.S. President George Bush. And there was a day they visited George Bush's parents, and this is what she wrote. George woke up at 6 a.m. as usual and went downstairs to get a cup of coffee. And he sat down on the sofa with his parents and put his feet up. And all of a sudden, Barbara Bush yelled, put your feet down! George's dad replied, for goodness sake, Barbara, he's the President of the United States! And Barbara said, I don't care. I don't want his feet on my table. The President promptly did as he was told, and Laura Bush wrote, even Presidents have to listen to their mothers.

It is true not just for the President of the United States of America, it is true for all children. Obey your parents in everything. Why? Is it because your parents are perfect? Is it your parents are flawless? No. This pleases the Lord, reminding us of Colossians 3:1, if we are raised with Christ, then seek the things that are above. That's the underlying motivation. If your parents are wonderful, wise, smart, that's a bonus! But that's not the basis. The basis is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fathers, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.

Finally, let's go to parents. In particular, fathers. The Bible says, fathers, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged. Now, this, I think, paints a picture of an overbearing father who is harshly, perhaps unwisely, disciplining his kids out of proportion. To such a degree that the Bible says, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.

I think a parallel text may be helpful in that Ephesians 6, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The word bring them up is the word to nurture them, to care for them, and to raise them. And the word discipline sounds almost totally negative, but actually, in the Greek, it is the word paideia, which means to train a child.

So it can involve negative punishments or consequences, but it can also refer to the positive, teaching and training and equipping of the child. So that's a big word, a, a very generous word, a child-training word. And then the word instruction is the word nouthesia, from which we get the word nouthetic counseling, which means to put in mind. It means to teach, to instruct. So this is the role of the father, that he is to nurture them, to train them, child-train them, and to teach them and instruct them in the way of the Lord.

As a father, as a parent, we understand in our modern society we have to farm out several things. Or it is efficient to farm out several things. For example, you want to teach your child how to swim, you farm out swimming to a swimming coach because you can't swim well, like myself. I don't waste time trying to teach my kids. I say, go to a swimming class. If you want your child to learn piano, you can't play the piano. Nothing wrong for you to get a piano teacher.

But there are some things you just can't farm out, and that, I think, is seen here. To nurture them, to train them as a child, and to teach them the way of the Lord. You can't even farm them, farm these things out to Sunday school or to youth ministry. So a lot of parents, oh, I need to bring them to a good church, almost like thinking of bringing them to a good tuition centre.

Let the tuition teacher take care of their spiritual life. I say that's a no-go because the Bible is very clear, the responsibility is laid upon the parents. So it is your responsibility to discipline them, to train them, to teach them, to nurture them. But in the midst of doing all these things, we might be all caught up with ourselves or we might be overruled by our own emotions and frustrations. And so Paul says, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.

Particular emphasis is given to the word fathers here. Now this is different from the word parents because in verse 20, it is clearly saying, children, obey your parents. But here a different word is used, fathers. Again, I'm not suggesting that mothers are excluded from this responsibility, but I think particular accountability is laid upon the fathers, as the head of the household.

So fathers, you can serve Jesus today not by crossing the sea to talk to an indigenous tribe somewhere far away, but you can serve Jesus today at home with this rebellious five-year-old kid, to discipline him, to train him, to teach him the Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't you ever say, oh, I need to work and therefore I'm going to leave these things to Gospel Light Christian Church. God is going to hold you accountable. The Scriptures are clear,it's for the fathers.

Now let me answer this in, in short and then we will end. How do we provoke our children in such a way that they become discouraged? You can read many authors, read many preachers, read many commentaries and they will have all kinds of suggestions and uh it will take a long time. But let me just summarize it into four areas that we might be guilty of, that we might discourage our kids thereby.

Consistency

Number one is in the area of consistency or the lack of it. We frustrate our kids when we are not consistent ourselves. For example, don't lie, but you're lying all the time. That is frustrating for a kid.

Oh, treat people with kindness, but you abuse your helper at home. That frustrates a kid and it's sad for me to hear that there may be cases like this. No wonder your, your kids grow up and turn their eye when they think about Christianity. They just get frustrated. They see, they hear that you are a follower of Jesus Christ, but your life is not consistent and here you are imposing on them, saying you must do this and you must do that when you yourself don't do it.

Now I'm not saying that we should be perfect parents. None of us will be. But as we will see later on, there is a necessity to also admit and confess our failures. And your kid will appreciate that transparency and honesty as well. Consistency. Are we?

Criticism

Second area, I think, is in unfair, harsh criticism. I'm not saying you should never criticise your kids. You can, for their good. They need to learn. They need to know where they've gone wrong. They need to know where they can do better, where they can improve. We need to give criticism. But what I'm saying here is that harsh criticism that seems to belittle your kids, that crushes their spirit, where there is no attempt at wanting to encourage them whatsoever. No affirmation. You are cold as an antarctic. And all you do is to criticise and to criticise and to criticise. That causes tremendous discouragement at home for your children.

I think this is a particular danger for us Asian parents or Chinese parents. We, we want to be the stoic father that sits on his throne. That's the persona maybe we are so used to. Not saying we cannot be strict. I'm not saying we cannot have standards. But we've got to be mindful. It's not imbalanced to a harshness or belittling.

Comparison

Thirdly, comparison. Very related to the second one, but this is a killer. Hey, how come your exams, you only get 86? How come our neighbour, John, he got 96? And you must have watched xiao hai bu ben, right? I Not Stupid. That movie by Jack Neo years ago and how that describes, it's a very Singaporean movie, and how that describes how our kids are crushed. Because they are often compared with someone else who they are not.

It's not fair to compare your kid with the smartest kid in class because nobody compared you to the smartest kid in your class. Are you the smartest kid? Well, some of you may be, but most of us are not. And just as you wouldn't want that to be done to you, you wouldn't want that to be done to others or done for your kids.

Confession

The final thing I would say is confession. As I've mentioned before, we are not perfect. None of us will be, can be. But if we are wrong, we say sorry. And if we have treated our sons, our daughters unkindly, vindictively, angrily, out of our sheer frustration and not for their good, we also need to say I'm sorry.

So, I hope at the end of it all, these are just the details. Really, the big picture, I hope we will grasp, is that this is not a parenting class. This is about worship. This is about discipleship to Jesus. And the Apostle Paul is saying Jesus is Lord of all. You are privileged to be united with Him in His death and resurrection. So guys, seek the things that are above. Amongst other things, it looks like this today. Wives, husbands, children, parents. May God bless our homes today.

I end with saying, I hear that there may be some in the church who are so frustrated and tired in their marriage that they want to quit. I can understand why, if you keep looking at your spouse, you see no reason in him or her. I hope today, by the grace of God, you will not see your spouse only, but more than anything else, see Christ. Hang in there, fight for marriage, because that's what it means to serve Jesus and to obey Him. I know this is something only God can salvage, and I trust that He will do that in your lives. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

These are not difficult philosophies or concepts, but these are extremely difficult because of our sinful nature that still resides in us. By the grace of God, I pray today that you will be careful to remember, and by the grace of God, do what He has told us to do.

I hope today you remember the ABCDs we talked about last week. To be able to obey God, we must go through the ABCD. That means, number one, acknowledge. A, acknowledge I can't. I really can't love my wife as I should. I really can't submit to my husband as I should, because I'm weak in my own flesh.

Then, then think about B, believing that God can, believing that His Spirit who indwells you today can enable you to do it. Then move on to C, where we cry out or to call out to God for that enabling. And then we go to D, where we just go ahead and do it. Love our wives as we should, with our ears, with our lips, with our hands, with our lives. Where we submit ourselves to our own husbands in everything, surrendering our own preferences so that he may flourish to be the man God wants Him to be.

Christian children, that you will obey your parents in everything, even if it doesn't make sense to you right now. And parents, responsibly, lovingly nurturing our children and being mindful not to frustrate or provoke them.

And I pray also for my friends who are here, you do not know Jesus. I hope that even at the end of this service, you will not think that what we are saying here are the means to salvation. These are not things you do to earn salvation. But as you look at these things, you realise the sheer impossibility of it all. And you realise today you need a new life. You need a new heart. You need to be born again. You need to be raised with Jesus. And so I say to you, the Bible is about how God loves us while we were yet sinners, sent His Son to die for us and allow His Son to pay for our sins.

I say to you, my dear friend, the Bible commands you today to repent, to turn from your sin, to turn from your own works and to believe in Jesus and what He has done. Receive this new life as you come under His Lordship.

So Father, this morning, thank You for Your Word. I pray You'll be gracious to save and I pray You'll be gracious to enable all of us as Your children to obey Your Word more and more each day. Lord, bless our home. In a world filled with broken marriages and broken families, may our Gospel shine in our lives and in our families. Thank You. In Jesus' Name, amen.

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