I wanted to begin today's post with a text I received this week from a Godly man:
Normally in sermons or discussions on passages like Colossians 3:20-21, people like to point out the significance of the need for children to obey their parents. Undoubtedly this observation is true, however it does not cover all that is being communicated in the passage.
WHAT A FATHER SHOULD NEVER DO IN PARENTING
Ephesians 6:4 "Father, do not provoke your children to anger...". (NASB) The phrase translated "do not provoke your children to anger" speaks of not doing something that would intentionally incite a person to be frustrated or to be moved to outburst and retribution. The command here in Ephesians 6:4 is warning fathers to not engage in a parenting style that could intentionally irritate their children and create within them a resentment. Such activity speaks of a father whose parenting style and interraction with their child produces rebellion rather than right behavior.
The parallel worded passage of Colossians 3:21 reads in the NASB "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart." A child who is "expasperated" by their dad represents a high tension spring just waiting to "let loose" by the slightest irriation.
If fathers are to expect their children to submit to their authority or if they expect to produce children who will heed and respect them, they must parent in such a way as not to knowingly frustrate their child. Not only can such outcomes result from willful, intentional acts of bad parenting, but also in the opposite extreme of neglecting to set boundaries. (see Proverbs 13:24)
WHAT A FATHER SHOULD DO IN PARENTING
In as much as Paul issues for these negative admonitions to fathers to "not provoke their children to anger" in Ephesians 6:4 and "to not exasperate their children" in Colossians 3:21, what then ought Godly father be aiming to do? Certainly there are sins to avoid in these texts, however, what kind of parenting ought a father being exercising toward their children as seen in these texts? I find it interesting that in the positive commands given to the children to "obey their parents", the reasoning for doing so points to the Heavenly Father. Why is this significant? Whatever the Heavenly Father does and Who He is ought to provide the standard for earthly fathers.
Jesus speaks of the correlation between earthly fathers and the Heavenly Father in Luke 11:11-13 "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Being that the Heavenly Father loves his redeemed people and provided all that is necessary for their salvation; obedience and submission ought to be a no-brainer. Why wouldn't a son or a daughter love a father who is nothing but loving, nurturing and caring? Thus by implication and based upon the character of the Heavenly Father, earthly fathers ought to love their children with the love of God through and through. (see the Father's character in James 1:17 & Matthew 6:25-33) They will know when to lovingly apply the firm hand of discipline and when to show the proper measure of patient and mercy.