In his instructive letter to the early Christians in the city of Ephesus, the Apostle Paul instructs the various members of the Christian household with practical behavior to live in their calling as husbands and wives, parents and children. The specific verse cited above exhorts fathers to raise their children with a combination of discipline and instruction, with a caution to drive them not to anger or wrath.
1. Not to Anger
While we are to discipline and instruct our children, we are not to provoke them to anger, frustration or discouragement. In our own frustration and disheartenment we may lash out in damaging ways not always physical. This can lead to lasting wounds, hurts and pains for years and even generations. Control the anger as they are but children who stumble like children. Lift them up with love and encourage them with joy and patience.
- Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Colossians 3:21
We often think of harsh capital punishment when we encounter this word in scripture. Webster defines discipline in terms of punishment but also as correction, obedience to order, self-control and rules governing conduct or activity. As fathers, we are to discipline and guide our children as the Lord disciplines us as sons. Truly what child does not require some discipline? Expect it and dole out with wisdom and teaching consideration.
- Discipline your child, and he will give you rest; he will bring you happiness. – Proverbs 29:17
- The Lord disciplines those he loves as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights – Proverbs3:11
- For what son is there that a father does not discipline? – Hebrews 12:7
As fathers, we are called to raise our children with reverence and knowledge of the Lord God and His Word. Teaching a godly life requires knowledge and consistency in practice. To do this well requires that the goods are within us. Raise up ourselves in the ways of the Lord so we can pass this on to our children and family.
- Now these are the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that the Lord your God instructed me to teach you so that you may carry them out…and that you may so revere the Lord your God that you, your children, and your grandchildren will keep all his statutes and commandments that I am giving you for all your lives, to prolong your days. – Deuteronomy 6:1-2
- These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. – Deuteronomy 6:7
- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. – 1 Timothy 3:16
As fathers, to know Him is the best gift we can give to our children. Modeling, teaching and leading our children in this, done in love as wise guidance without damaging provocation, is our duty and call as fathers. Perhaps more easily said than done given our own upbringing. Godly transformation begins with knowledge and acceptance of God, His Word and Truth, then recognition and acceptance of our own brokenness, as well as forgiveness of those that may have broken us.
How were you raised by your father? As a father are you providing your children (young or old) with godly discipline, guiding instruction and loving encouragement?
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” – 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12