May 27, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Who Am I? First, I am a child of God. Second, I am a sinner saved by grace. Third, I am a husband. Now let’s consider the next installment:
● I am a father. Consider Ephesians 6:1-4:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your
father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that
it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you,
fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the
training and admonition of the Lord.
○ I included the first three verses of this scripture even though it refers to children more than fathers. But notice in verse 2, where it says, “Honor your father and mother….” While this is directed towards children, a parent – if he or she is to be honored by their children – ought to live honorably! Being honorable, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, means “worthy of being honored; specifically…of good reputation; respectable….[a life] bringing honor to the owner or doer….” It is as that old adage says, “If you are going to talk the talk, then walk the walk!” Another old saying: “The nut does not fall far from the tree!” If you want your children to be productive Christian adults, then model that life before them consistently!
○ Verse 4 of our scripture first gives fathers a command in the negative: “…do not provoke your children to wrath….” Provoking your children to wrath can be done aggressively or passively. A child who is disciplined with severity – or a child who is beaten for no apparent reason – out of anger and rage is likely to learn and apply such behavior to their children. Hence the fulfillment of the warning in the second of the Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:5: “For I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me.” Such generationally learned iniquity is hard to break.
Passive provoking is what developed anger and wrath in me. My father left his family – my mother and three boys, I being the youngest – when I was ten years old. My mother was in her mid fifties and not in good health. In the spring of the next year she was forced to sell the family dairy farm in northwestern Connecticut. That 200 plus acre farm was the most stable and permanent thing in my life! All I wanted to do when I grew up was to take over the family farm! But it was gone. I don’t even remember my feelings at that time. I learned much later that apparently they were so painful that I shoved them down deep inside so I would not have to deal with them. Just a year or so after the farm was sold, I began medicating myself with alcohol, which led to other addictions later in my life. I was angry, and I did not know where that wrath came from! Thank God, I did not strike out and hurt people. I would pick inanimate objects such as doors and walls to pound with my fists. But I got tired of repairing holes in our walls! Thirty years later, through psychological testing and counseling, I discovered the reasons for my anger and compulsive living – I had lost the wholeness of my family, the family farm and my future! With God’s help, more counseling, and the patience of my wonderful wife, most of the explosive anger has quieted down.
○ The alternative to provoking your children to wrath is to “…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). In the King James it says, “…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” To nurture means in the Greek to educate, train and correct. To admonish, according to Webster, is “to warn; caution against specific faults….to reprove mildly….to advise….to inform or remind, by way of a warning.” Certainly (and with lots of love), this is how God would have us to train and guide our children.
○ To what degree are we to “…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…”? This may sound extreme, but it is God’s instruction from Deuteronomy 11:18 through 20 (Good News Bible):
Remember these commands and cherish them. Tie them on your arms and
wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children.
Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you
are resting and when you are working. Write them on the doorposts of your
houses and on your gates.
“Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working.” That’s all! You don’t have to do it at any other time! But what’s left? You are either at home or away; resting or working! There is no other time! In other words, instill the Word of God and its principles into the lives of your children all the time! And do it, not just by talking, but by living the Bible and its principles out before your children constantly! Let me give you a challenge here in the form of a question: How many times have your children ‘caught’ you reading your Bible or in prayer? How can you expect them to learn to read the Bible and pray?
We all fail to reach God’s perfect standards – even as parents. That’s why Jesus Christ died for us, to redeem us from our failings and sins. But since I am a father, I have tried – and will continue to try – to instill the way of the Lord into my children.