Parents and Children
In Ephesians 6:1-5, we move onto the next set of household relationships: parents and children. These relationships (parents to children; children to parents) are the most dynamic, complicated and influential relationships we have. Here, Paul explains that the primary task of parenting is to cultivate a Jesus-centered home and the primary task of children is to honor their parents.
This entire section flows out of 5:18 “be filled with the Spirit”. Obedience is only possible as a result of faith in Jesus and being filled w/ the Holy Spirit. One element of being “filled with the Spirit” 5:21 is mutual submission among Christians (love, service, humility), but that submission expresses itself in varying ways given our varying relationships.
Broadly speaking, two primary categories in this section:
- How children should relate to parents (1-3)
- How parents should relate to children (4)
Parents: Primary task of parenting is to cultivate a Jesus-centered home. Overriding concern, goal and hope of parenting is that kids come to know, love and enjoy Jesus. Both parents are responsible for their kids, but the father has a leading role.
How? (1) “do not provoke”, (2) “bring them up”, (3) “discipline”, (4) “instruct”
“DO NOT PROVOKE TO ANGER”
Just as God never misuses his authority, always working for the good of his kids, so parents (especially fathers) are to do the same. Children are not to be manipulated, exploited, crushed, excessive discipline, harshness, unreasonable demands, abuse of authority, arbitrariness, favoritism, unfairness, nagging, condemnation, humiliation, sarcasm, or ridicule. Kids are little people and should be respected as people, image bearers of God. To “bring up” is to “nourish”, which includes provision and protection. Just as God nourishes, protects and provides for us, parents are to do the same for our kids. This includes:
Basics: Food, clothing, roof, etc.
Time: Quality and quantity time – not just leftovers.
Praying: Praying for them but also praying over them.
Attention: Affection, kisses, hugs, holding hands, etc.
Expectations: Not too low or too high.
Protection: You are children’s protectors.
“DISCIPLINE” (Heb 12 “disciplines us for our good”)
Discipline is about loving, controlled, age-appropriate correction – never done in anger. Just as God disciplines us for our good in love, we are to do the same for our kids. The purpose of this discipline is to help them identify their need for a savior and increase their trust in Him.
Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Pr 3:11-12 – Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Pr 13:24 “Whoever spares rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
Pr 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
You hate your kids if you don’t discipline them b/c instead you’re cultivating foolishness. If your kids don’t learn to obey/trust you, you’re training them to do the same w/ Jesus. This discipline may include spanking up to certain age (matter of conscience, but the Bible does commend it.) This discipline is not punishment, but correction. Not in anger, but in affection. Not in harshness, but in humility. Again, this is neither stern, harsh discipline NOR lazy permissiveness. Rather, it is balanced, controlled, thoughtful, age-appropriate, child-specific discipline. You are shepherding your child’s heart, like clay, with the gospel.
Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
“INSTRUCT” verbal educations (nouthesia)
Children need not only discipline, but instruction. Not one or the other, but both. Just as God lovingly and patiently instructs us, we are to do the same for our kids. (cf Dt 6:4-9) As parents you are painting a worldview w/ Jesus at the middle. Instruction, particularly important when it comes to cultivating a Jesus-centered home. Again, for parents, the overriding concern, goal and hope of parenting is that kids come to know, love and enjoy Jesus. Here are some examples.
#1 Let your kids see you FOLLOWING JESUS. Show what a Jesus-centered world looks like.
#2 Give them a taste of the scandalous GRACE and unconditional LOVE of JESUS.
#3 Point them to JESUS’ GOODNESS and not their goodness.
#4 From birth, invite them into JESUS’ STORY.
#5 Portray the relationship of JESUS/CHURCH as husband/wife.. (cf Eph 5:22-33)
Children: Primary task of being a child is to honor your father and mother. Just like, husbands are to love their wives. Wives are to respect husbands. Kids honor their parents. This honor will express itself as obedience when young, at home, but changes as a child grows. The fifth commandment doesn’t say “obey”, “trust”, “admire”, or “be affectionate towards” but “honor” Every child under every circumstance must honor their parents. To honor is a moral choice – nothing to do with your feelings, unsentimental. To honor is a decision to treat your parents w/ dignity and courtesy and loyalty. You don’t have to obey them, confide in them, trust them. But you still treat them with dignity and honor.
Conclusion.To parent well, and to honor your parents, you must first be parented by God. To parent well and honor parents you must first be parented by God. This is the true power behind parenting. The Son of God was treated as enemy of God, so that we – who are enemies of God – may be comes sons/daughters of God. As you increasingly see the beauty and love of that good news (gospel), it will change how you parent. The true power behind parenting is this grace. He offers it completely, freely and unceasingly.