“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4)
There are numerous places in Scripture that speak of the value and responsibility of parents to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord. One of those places is in the book of Ephesians. Unity within the family is an important theme Paul addresses in his teachings. As he begins chapter 6 of Ephesians, he reminds children of their responsibility to obey and honor their parents, and of the resultant blessing that follows their submission (Ephesians 6:1-3). In verse 4 he instructs the fathers saying, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Fathers are not to frustrate and dominate their children, provoking them to anger, but to instead instill in them both the discipline and instruction of the Lord in hopes that these teachings will serve as a foundation for their lives as they grow. It is crucial that parents play a primary role in the discipleship of their children.
On their CD, Hymns for the Christian Life, Keith and Kristyn Getty have included a song entitled, A Mother’s Prayer. Though titled a mother’s prayer, the Getty’s describe the song as a prayer for any parent as they watch their children grow and learn faith for themselves. I first heard this song when they led worship at our church in the fall of last year. I was immediately struck by the songs third verse, “You’ll travel where my arms won’t reach as the road will rise to lead your feet on a journey of your own. May my mistakes not hinder you, but His grace remain and guide you through; this is my prayer for you.” This particular verse stood out to me so personally because my children are either now, or soon will be at the place in their lives where they will be left to live out their faith on their own.
I sometimes wonder as a parent what I may have done to hinder my children in living out their faith. As they’ve aged I’ve wondered it even more. I suppose most Christian parents at some point have wondered the same. It’s unmistakable that as parents we will make mistakes in raising our children, but equally unmistakable is that God’s grace not only covers, but also compensates for those mistakes. We should constantly pray to that end. What an encouraging thought reflected in this song as to the magnitude of God’s grace. It simply never ends. So, by His grace and through His power, let us strive each day to be the kind of parents that our heavenly Father has so perfectly modeled for each of us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your forgiveness. Thank you for constant grace because as parents, we need it. Though perfection in this life is impossible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to model for our children a life of faith. Minimize our hindrance to their spiritual growth and give them grace in spite of it. Thank You most of all for Your Son and for the forgiveness we have in Him. Help us to honor Him in all we do. Amen.