“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)
The purpose of teaching children to be obedient is to lead them to obeying and following God. If that instruction is filled with angst, if it becomes exasperating to the child, the purpose of the instruction will be lost. Children of earthly parents, like children of heavenly parents, must learn in an atmosphere of love. We are encouraged to obey God’s commands because he loves us and his commands are not going to make us grievous. Neither should the teachings and commands of the parents result in angry children.
How can parents achieve this anger free environment in their home? First, the teaching of discipline and Godly instruction must begin at the earliest age possible. The longer it is put off, the more difficult it will become to bring about the desired results without the anger. Children who learn soon after birth will grow up in an environment of obedience and trust. When teaching is combined with love, learning is faster and angst-free.
So the verse suggests both a negative and a positive. Don’t and do. Don’t provoke anger, do bring them up in discipline and instruction. It’s similar to the passage in Deut. 6:5-9 in which the Jewish parents are required to do everything in their power to keep the word of God in front of their children. The admonition for the parent is to have the word in their hearts. To know it and to live it so that they can pass it on.
If a parent loves God and God’s words and loves his child, then bringing up that child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord will be a task of love, and that should never produce anger. It is the parent’s responsibility to set the tone in the home. Loud yells should be replaced with soft answers. Gentleness and mercy should abound, and grace should be extended at all times. Parents must also learn to forgive as they have been forgiven. Being a parent requires patience, and that patience comes out of the love we received from God as well as the love we give to our children.
Task for Today: First thing, check the atmosphere of your home. It will quite possibly reflect your attitude. Is it a loving, peaceful, kind environment? Second, check your own feelings about the word of God. Look at your own obedience to God. Difficult to teach what you cannot do. Third, invite God into the teaching process.