Although applicable to everyone, this admonition is particularly directed at fathers: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
At the core of the Christian message lies the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done for sinners. The Gospel is the good news that, despite our sinful nature, God has provided a way for us to receive forgiveness through Jesus’ finished work on the cross. As believers, our lives are forever transformed by this truth.
In Ephesians, Paul offers three key applications of the gospel:
It’s important to understand that Paul’s teaching goes against the cultural norms of his time. In the Roman era, fathers held absolute power over their households, even having the authority of life and death over those under their roof. However, the gospel introduced a new way of life centered around Jesus, influencing family dynamics significantly.
In Colossians 3:21, Paul urges fathers not to embitter their children. How can we avoid provoking those entrusted to us? Here are four things fathers shouldn’t do.
First, we must avoid being severe. Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we should consider our children’s individuality and how God has uniquely wired them. Discipline is essential for raising disciples, but it should be coupled with kindness and grace. Our children need to witness God’s compassion in us.
Second, we must avoid selfishness. The home is where selfishness can thrive, but fathers are called to reflect the beautiful and selfless nature of God’s authority. Our role as parents, guardians, or mentors is to demonstrate God’s patient, guiding, protective, rescuing, and forgiving authority.
Third, we should strive for consistency. In a world full of instability, our children need to find stability and reliability in us. By being consistent in our words and actions, we reflect something of the faithful consistency of our heavenly Father.
Lastly, we must not be shallow in our spirituality. The depth of our home’s spiritual atmosphere often reflects the spiritual depth of the father. It’s essential for fathers to cultivate a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, allowing their faith to permeate every aspect of their lives. A shallow spiritual life often results in a shallow home environment.
So, what can we do to uphold these principles and avoid provoking our children?
Here are three ways:
This article is adapted from a sermon by Adam Brock entitled Do Not Provoke.