And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see” (John W. Whitehead). That being true, the question is, “What kind of living letter are you writing?” Too many dip their parental pen in poison and write a deadly message on their child’s heart. These children will grow up to be turned loose on society to spread evil like a plague. Even Christian parents often fail to write the Word of God upon their kids’ hearts. Yet, we have the potential under God to turn this around and send out living letters of testimony to the grace and power of Christ to future generations. Paul offers four requirements in Eph.6:1-4 for being effective parents.
There needs to be DEMONSTRATION, “you fathers…” (6:4a). It is not that mothers do not play a significant role in the spiritual development of their children, for they certainly do. Still, God has placed men as the leaders of their home. Our children will not become what we say, but what they see! They had rather see a sermon than hear one. What do our children need to see in us?
If you want your children to honor you, then be an honorable parent—not a hypocritical one. Prov.17:6 says, “Parents are the pride of their children.” Little eyes are watching our every move. A person’s image of the Heavenly Father is often patterned after the image they have of their human father.
Proper parenting demands DEVOTION, “bring them up…” (6:4b). This requires a commitment to them—to making our sons and daughters a priority. In the Old Testament a father would give a blessing to their kids. The father would place his hands on them and speak to them words of blessing. Have you given the blessing?
The blessing was communicated by proper touch. Kids need our touch. They need lots of hugs. They grow up secure when they receive this affection and they know how to express love to others. A survey of teens from Christian homes found 79% felt unloved! God forbid!
We also bless with positive talk. We communicate by the tone of our voice whether our children are special or a nuisance. Critical, negative parents undermine their child’s potential and raise kids that either become perfectionists pursuing an elusive goal of pleasing their parents or we embitter them and they despair.
Loving parents exercise proper DISCIPLINE, “training…” (6:4b). We must reward good behavior. When they get it right we must let them know. When you are rewarded on your job with a raise or promotion it inspires you to work harder. That principle is just as valid with our kids. There will also be correction that should be swift, direct, and proportionate. Our Father in Heaven disciplines us in love and we are to follow His example.
Good parents give DIRECTION, “admonition…” (6:4b). The most important thing you can teach them is, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” We don’t want to bring children into the world if we aren’t going to take them to heaven with us. There is a power in the Word of God to direct them. Nature abhors a vacuum. The Word will fill their minds with Divine direction, or the world will with demonic deception.
Let every adult believer call upon God to help us impact this younger generation for Christ! This is urgent and essential business!