As parents, we have good days and we have bad days; how we respond points to our worldview.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”EPHESIANS 6:4, NASB
Paul has just written to the Ephesian church, and over the last chapter has pointed out the clear delineation between the pagan world and the Christian world. He has admonished believers to be subject to one another in love and patience, and has called upon husbands and wives to love and respect each other in mutual submission – living for the other’s joy. He outlined the model for Christian love – that we mirror the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Christ. Now he points the reader to parent-child relationships. He has called on children to obey their parents in accordance with the Ten Commandments (that is, he has encouraged children to live according to the Law) and now he gives instruction for parents! Following the theme of the letter, Paul has shown us that there are two parenting worldviews at work here: the pagan worldview of forceful coercion, or the Christian worldview of gentle shepherding. Either we provoke our children to anger, or we gently instruct them.
Either we provoke our children to anger, or we gently instruct them.
But by what standard is the instruction of children to be judged? When Paul called upon children to obey parents, he pointed to the Law; is it not reasonable to perceive that the “instruction of the Lord” points to the Law, as well?
Regarding God’s Law, the Word tells us we should teach it’s contents to our kids.
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”DEUTERONOMY 6:6-7, NASB
The Bible further tells us that a young man lives ethically in obedience to God only if the Law is his standard.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.”PSALMS 119:9, NASB
Indeed, the Law brings peace and a sure path!
“Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.”PSALMS 119:165, NASB
So, Christian parents are called to teach the ethics and the will of God to their children. And Paul has clearly shown us that this is done in distinction from provoking our children or grieving them. It is also notable that the pagan worldview (which apparently treated children quite harshly) is the worldview which produced a brutal system of child sacrifice.
It was the worldview of God which restored a high view of children to the Earth.
When push comes to shove, Christian parents have two clear choices! We may harshly deal with our children, as the world does, or we may gently disciple them, as Christ does His children.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”EPHESIANS 4:1-3, NASB
When my son strays from the Way, it will not be the shame of a beating which restores him. It will be a gentle hand, a patient word and the Word of God which restores our relationship. When my precious boy fails in some endeavor, I want his first thought to be, “I need my mom and dad”.
He will be a shepherd someday, too, and it must be my goal to humbly show him how he must live and act. Fortunately, I don’t need to come up with the answers on my own! Jesus already did that.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”MATTHEW 5:5, NASB