MONDAY, JUNE 10
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4 ESV
WISE PARENTS WALK THE TIGHTROPE
Shortly after college one of my (Larry) best friends was on a first date with a woman who would eventually become his wife. In an effort to tease/impress her he decided he would dip his fingers in his water and lightly sprinkle her in the face. She didn’t think it was as funny or cute as he did and so she took her entire glass of iced tea and dumped it in his lap. The good news is this happened in Alabama so the tea was the good kind, sweet! And the other part of the good news is they are still happily married after 20 plus years. On a side note, he has never sprinkled her with water since.
Some might say she was “provoked” to dump the iced tea on my friend. In Ephesians 6 we learn that fathers can “provoke” their kids to anger. The Book of Ephesians was written in the first-century Roman empire. At that time a father could do almost anything he wanted to his family, even sentence his child to death. To call fathers harsh in that day would have been an understatement. Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:4 were revolutionary.
The Apostle Paul starts with a negative command and then gives a positive command. The negative is basically to not be too hard on your kids. The positive is to try to discipline them for the sake of developing Christ-like character. So much of the balance involves a relationship that follows the example of God our Father. God doesn’t just give us a bunch of strict rules to follow, but instead pursues a loving relationship with us in order to grow us up to spiritual maturity.
The old saying still holds true, “Rules without a Relationship leads to Rebellion.” When we are growing up, we need discipline from our father and we need a good relationship with our father. When you reflect on your father growing up, do you believe he had a balance in this area or did he emphasize one over the other? How has God shown you both a loving relationship and loving discipline in your own life? If you are a parent ask God to show you where He wants you to grow as a parent who lovingly disciplines and nurtures a relationship with your children.