Glorifying God through Discipline
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Dads, as we talk about our roles as stewards of our children let me examine with you some of the definitions of the key words in this passage ie., provoke, discipline and instruction, in their order of appearance:
First, Not to Provoke: meaning to stimulate or incite (someone) to do or feel something, especially by arousing anger in them. The cost of provoking your children to anger is found in the parallel scripture to our text in Colossians 3:21. It is also an imperative against physical and emotional or verbal abuse of our children. We as fathers must exhibit Godly self-restraint, self-discipline, and self-control in disciplining our children. We need to reflect God’s goodness, kindness, forbearance and patience in dealing with our children as it is written in Romans 2:4.
Next let us turn to bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Discipline according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is defined as training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. The word in the Greek is paideia which means training of the physical and mental faculties in such a way as to produce a broad enlightened mature outlook harmoniously combined with maximum cultural development
Instruction is the action, practice, or profession of teaching The Greek word is nouthesia and has to do with conduct: encouraging children to do what is right, rewarding good conduct, confronting them when they do what is wrong, and disciplining their misconduct in an appropriate way.
Of notable importance is that the imperative command of Ephesians 6:4 is given to us Dad’s. Paul seems to purposely transition from his previous instructions to parents (as found in Ephesians 6:1), or when addressing fathers and mothers together (as in Ephesians 6:2). But as the God-appointed head of the family (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:11–12; Hebrews 12:7–11) fathers are given the designated responsibility for the nurture and admonition of their children. This is not by any means an attempt to diminish the important role that mothers play along side fathers in the raising and training of children.
Let me leave you with what I believe are two important principles that we need to take ownership of as early as possible in our parenting journey and that Paul imparts to us in Ephesians 6:4.
- Discipline goes hand in hand with parental training and instruction. It is the conduit through which we can expose sin issues in our children by leading them to understand the moral reason why we obey God’s commandments and instructions. Discipline does not mean punishment, and discipline is never to be conducted by an angry parent. Our motivation for disciplining our children is love, and to reveal to them their sinfulness and to point them to Christ.
- Instruction also has several implications. We are to lead our sons and daughters and teach them the commands and the way of the Lord ( Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”). We are to talk to them about the grace found in Jesus Christ and to model how we are to live out our faith. We are not to depend on others to fill their moral warehouses (the conscience) with the word of God. Taking the long view of parenting our goal is to help them become spiritually mature.
In summary, Dad’s, it is our wonderful God given privilege and awesome responsibility to raise up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Let us do so with the mind-set that we are to glorify God through our parenting with the ultimate goal of pointing them to our savior, Jesus Christ.