The apostle Paul ends this section with a strong benediction in Ephesians 3:20. He says that God is able
to do immeasurably more that we would dare imagine. The ESV wording is even
stronger: it says infinitely more than we might think or ask.
Now to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at
work within us. NIV
Now all glory to God, who is able, through
his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might
ask or think. ESV
Let me get right to the point.
If this passage is true, then why are we so easily discouraged with our
parenting? I believe Paul places these particular words right before he begins the
application portion of Ephesians (chapters 4-6) precisely because he does not
want Christians to lose hope. In the next few paragraphs Paul lays out a
radical way of living, for the Ephesians and for us in the 21st century.
Paul was eminently aware of just how contrary to the world’s ways these “basic”
directives of the Christian faith would be to his readers. He wanted them to
know that the full power of God was available to them as they began to
implement the instructions of the Holy Spirit.
For example, in chapter 6
we read, Children obey your parents in
the Lord. What is so radical about that, you may ask? The radical part is
the last three words: in the Lord.
Even the world wants children who obey and do what they are told. But Paul adds
a stunning qualifier. He says that simply coming when called is not enough.
Paul says children are to come when called, in the power of God. That is
radical. It means your parenting may not be evaluated on how quickly and how
correctly your children respond to your directions. Your parenting must lead
your children to do these things in the Lord, otherwise they are not
doing right at all. As you think about this directive, it is overwhelming.
Ephesians 6:1 appears to be such a simple verse. But when the last three words
are the focus, the verse becomes a radical challenge to every accepted practice
in the world around you. The world will always focus on outward behavior. But
the Holy Spirit, through Paul, says that is not nearly enough. And actually, if
that is all that happens—outward, quickly-responsive behavior—then it is not
only lacking, it is wrong. It is wrong because it is not done in the Lord.
That is why Paul’s encouragement
at the end of chapter 3 is so important. We need this encouragement or we would
give up in despair. Children obey your parents in the Lord is just as
radical a directive as wives be submissive to your husband as to the Lord
and as husbands love your wives as Christ loves his church. And
remember, Paul has made the plot even more intriguing. Your children are to
obey in the Lord, even though they began life as an enemy of God (Ephesians
2:1-3). This is too much for us to handle! But Paul says that God is able to do
immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. In terms of parenting, he wants
us to ask for more than children who come quickly when they are called. He
wants us to ask him for children who will come quickly because they want to
honor God. God is able to answer that prayer … and immeasurably more!