The Two-way Street
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Paul is moving on to the next class of relationship: parents and their children. But before you go all “tough love” on me, let’s remember that ALL of this is to be built on a foundation of LOVE. That is why you can’t take verse 1 as your parental life verse without including verse 4.
For children, a pattern of obedience toward their parents sets them up for a life of obedience with respect to their Lord. Since it’s our responsibility to raise them up in the way they should go (Prv. 22:6), every parent needs to remember that their child’s obedience is ultimately about God, rather than themselves. Far too often we focus on what they owe us rather than on what they need for a fruitful life as a follower of Christ.
For fathers (and mothers if dad isn’t around), we MUST remember that God commands us NOT to provoke our children to anger. Don’t upset them just for the sake of upsetting them! Don’t put them in their place just to show them who is in charge! I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty far too many times in my life of provoking my children to anger just because I was mad at them and wanted to upset them as a way to vent my frustration. I was a sinner every single time… and so are you.
In a home that is Christ-centered and thereby love-focused, Ephesians 6:1-4 is not some impossible goal to reach. Rather, it’s the natural outcome of doing family God’s way.
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