And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
The house is going up. In the field where the large tree fell, a new home is being built. On our way to school, my children make comments, and we enjoy watching the progress on this house as we drive by each day. The house is going up systematically. From the foundation on up, there is a building plan. God gives us building plans for our kids.
An admonition, then a direct command, is given to fathers in particular in Ephesians 6:4. From what I understand about ancient cultures, some pagan fathers in false religions could be very harsh, demanding, and demeaning to their children. Prodding or provoking them to get a reaction out of them was a sadistic type of amusement that some would seek to find.
In a conventional sense today, as children misbehave, it is easy for a tired or busy parent to be more rash in their reactions to their children. I read one study that suggested parents of young children are more angry than most people! If you are nodding off while reading this after a sleepless parenting night, I totally understand. But when our children misbehaving, or sin, not obeying and honoring like they should – do not fly off the handle. Do not exact a revengeful form of correction towards them.
Commentator Adam Clark wrote well: “Cruel parents generally have bad children. He who corrects his children according to God and reason will feel every blow on his own heart more sensibly than his child feels it on his body. Parents are called to correct, not to punish, their children. Those who punish them do it from a principle of revenge; those who correct them do it from a principle of affectionate concern.” The interaction of a parent with a child should not be rooted in shaming them, or creating a false sense of guilt, or even generating fake conformity. Truly a parent must nurture the heart.
After this admonition to not cause wrath in a child, the Lord instructs the parent, the father, in particular, to bring up a child. The phrase, bringing up, carries the idea of a systematic approach to building something. Like the house being constructed that we drive by each day is being built with a specific order, plan, and design in place, the father should have a plan for the progressive building of his children. Two words to consider:
Nurture is the tutilage or systematic training and educating of a child. Remember, in school, the teacher took you through a book, page by page, and chapter by chapter? Subjects and topics related to one another were taught to you in a complimentary way. For example, in math class, you probably learned addition before you learned subtraction. Then multiplication came before division. You get the idea.
Admonition is to call attention to or to offer a mild warning or rebuke. When a child is tempted to do wrong, that is an excellent time to provide a word of caution, a reminder of the consequences, a rebuke of wrong thinking or wrong attitude. Paul says in Romans 15:14 that those with “goodness” in them can admonish one another. Be sure to give consistent guidance to your children. Two challenges:
- Angry parents damage the emotions of their children.
- Absent parents damage the emotions of their children.
Find the right balance to be building your kids up. Just like a class in school and a house being built, you are called to systematically and continuously develop your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not easy in this world. The Church will help you. Sunday School and AWANA programs can help. The church and the kid’s programs are not a replacement for the father. No one can replace the healthy interaction and integration of Bible truth in their ones children.
Next time you see a house being built, think about how God has called you to develop your child.
Please offer suggestions for building up kids in the faith in the comment section…