Eph 6:4

I was reading of a story about a pastor who was absolutely stunned, by a well-known biblical scholar who invited him out for lunch during a “Pastor’s Conference”. As this pastor sat across the table with this well-known biblical scholar, who wrote many deep theological books. The pastor began the conversation by asking this wise theologian a question “How did you manage to be so prolific?” This biblical scholar mumbled under his breath “I sacrificed my son” The pastor was stunned by his words and thought maybe he misunderstood him, so he asked the question again and the scholar replied with anger, “You heard me! I said I sacrificed my son!” The scholar went on to say “I was so driven to research, writing, publishing and made a name for myself in the academic world that I neglected my family.” As the conversation continued the pastor found out that his son essentially grew up as a stranger to his father and he never seemed to have a relationship at all with his son. The pastor tried to encourage him with words “I’m sure that’s not your fault.” But the scholar became more angrily and said “Don’t you try to console me….Yes, I did that! Even though people seem to be amazed by my productivity as a scholar, the fact is, I would give up every one of those books and far, far more just to have my son back.” And the scholar went on to say to the pastor “Just in case you want to walk in my footsteps, know that I pray to God you won’t”.

Now! I understand that each person is responsible for his or her own actions whether you’re young or elderly. But we as parents, and especially we fathers, are to seek to love, nurture, and disciple our children. This is the greatest ministry we have moms and dads. This passage of scripture that is before us is loaded with instruction to the parents, especially fathers….So let’s begin!


Kent Hughes in his book “Disciplines Of A Godly Man” gave this warning “Men, the mere fact of fatherhood has endowed you with terrifying power in the lives of your sons and daughters, because they have an innate, God-given passion for you.”

“fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (v4) The word I want us to look at first is “provoke” or a better translation “exasperate”. This is to make someone very annoyed, usually when they can do nothing to solve a problem. We are not to irritate, by annoying commands, unreasonable blame, and uncertain temper. Why? Paul wrote “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Col 3:21

What are we to do instead of provoking our children to anger or discouragement?  The simple answer is found 1 Cor 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 

Gal 6:6 “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” 

Phil 3:17 “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

We are to be the example, the standard!  That’s why being a father/leader is such a huge responsibility. As Kent says in his book “Men there are few places where sanctified sweat will show greater dividends than fathering.” What is Paul instructing us to do?  FIRST is……“do not provoke your children to anger” (v4) we call these the Do not…… (v4a)

Words can hurt and have devastating consequences to our relationship with our children. Fathers who criticize their children often bring them to discouragement. A child can be so pressured to achieve that he is virtually destroyed. He quickly learns that nothing he does is sufficient to please his parents. Discouragement leads to a child to have an embittered hearts because of the nagging and the constant criticism. There is another way without criticizing that is equally as destructive and that’s No words or none action response has the same devastating effects. When we don’t use our words, that’s just as hurtful when we use our criticizing words. Remember what Prov 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Prov 21:23 “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”


This one really hurts for me because there has been more times than not where this has happened over the course of my parenting. Not seeing the happy disposition they come to us with and then you crush them because of your selfishness, not realizing the hurt we just inflicted. We need to stop this me time, and that everything must be quiet, so that the king can have his well-deserved “me time”. What’s worse is the hypocrisy by us when this happens! You can be yelling at your kids and the phone rings and you answer it “Well good morning, how are you?” Turning it off like a tap, but what does that say to our children? Our tiredness and miserable day is no excuse to unload on our children. Prov 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Remember what Paul wrote “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
1 Cor 13:4-7


Your children are all unique and you must treat each one equally and differently. They are the same… meaning your children, but they are all different in personality, physically and spiritually. The youngest shouldn’t get the special treatment and the oldest shouldn’t have so much pressure laid upon them because they were the first born. And the middle child shouldn’t get left out of everything because they were born in the middle of all this. Isaac favored Esau over Jacob and Rebekah preferred Jacob over Esau. That dual and conflicting favoritism not only caused great trouble for the immediate family, but has continued to have consequences in the conflicts between the descendants of Jacob and Esau until our present day! They are God’s children and they are a gift from God. Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” Some children need more care then their siblings and we are to demonstrate that love to each one that they are unique and special and a gift from God.

We are never to do these…. 
Do not be critical
Do not be irritable
Do not show favoritism

God has created our children with their hearts turned towards us. As Luke penned “He (John the Baptist) will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17. So if were not to do these things, what are we to do?

Now we come to the Do’s as Fathers      (v4b) The word used here means “training of a child;” education and instruction, discipline. Here it means that we are to train up our children in such a manner as the Lord approves; that is, they (we) are to educate them for virtue and godliness. Instructing them in the knowledge of divine things, setting them good examples to do and follow. Taking care to prevent their falling into bad company, praying with them, and for them, bringing them into the house of God, under the means of grace, to attend public worship; all which, under a divine blessing, may be very useful to them. 

Exemplify TENDERNESS of the gospel confession.

This is to nourisher or feed on for growth……we can use the same idea when it comes to our children. Why? Paul said “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” Eph 5:29. We are to bring up our children with kindness and tenderness. This tenderness should be exemplified to our children by verbally and physically.

This tenderness requires….. Biblical instruction…………Prov 1:8-9 teaching them to listen to instruction. We must set a godly example…….Deut 6:4-6 wherever you are, day or night. We as fathers must manage our household properly and respectfully…. 1 Tim 3:4. We are never more true men, than when we raise up our children with tenderness. Tenderness is to be characteristic of the believer’s life in Christ. Col 3:12 says “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” 2 Peter 1:3-7 says “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”

Discipline and correction through the gospel.

This requires “Training” in discipline, even when it comes to punishment. Why is discipline important? Prov 19:18 says “Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.” Prov 15:32 says “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Heb 12:11 says “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.” Proper discipline produces practical righteousness, being trained to do what is right and noble in the eyes of God. This is hard but it requires discipline by the parent and the child. There are consequences for our actions, it doesn’t mean there isn’t forgiveness and restoration, but there is punishment for the wrong doing. And if we are provoking our children to anger you have no grounds to discipline them with. Voddie Baucham said “Discipling our children is not about teaching them to behave in a way that won’t embarrass us. We’re working toward something much more important than that. We’re actually raising our children with a view toward leading them to trust and to follow Christ.” We must set the example in gentleness and biblical discipline for their growth in understanding the truth. Corporal punishment is a must to a healthy relationship, not ABUSE, but LOVING discipline. Parent must shepherd their child’s heart to guard their hearts, not only discipline or an attempt to correct an outward behavior…everything is always about the heart. Discipline begins and ends with dealing with the heart. Prov 4:20-23 says this “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life
Biblical Instruction

This is referring to verbal instruction, not just outward obedience. Failure of this and the outcome is exemplified in the life of Eli and his sons found in  1 Sam 3:1-18 So! What are we to do that doesn’t happen to us? Prov 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. The verb translated "train" means, first, "to put something into the mouth," "to give to be tasted," 

“Train up a child” not in the way they would want to go, meaning their corrupt hearts, but in the way they should go; in which, if you love them, you would have them go. As soon as possible every child should be led to the knowledge of the Savior. Form their birth to adulthood. We are to keep preaching the gospel without reservations. If, from his/her early years, a child is so trained, when he/she is old, they will not depart from it. This way, this education is in accordance with his/her habit of life, and it will bear fruit and it will become a second nature. 2 Tim 3:14-17 we read this important truth that Paul shared with Timothy and us. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Why is this instruction so important?

Answer can be found in John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” Holy Scriptures have in them, a sufficiency of doctrine, to make our children, or any other, wise enough to get to heaven. This is what we are to do as fathers as gospel preachers. What were not to do is to exasperate our children to anger and resentment, but train them up in the instruction of the Lord. Moms and dads! This is going to be a long struggle, but [you] we must hold to our guns with gentleness and perseverance. And this is where the church family can help [meaning those who don’t or unable to have children, our empty nesters and our dear seniors]. Coming alongside the moms and dads with an encouraging word, to help them if help is needed....because the parents need your support. We need each and the church family. Remember what Paul wrote to Titus to relay back to the church But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” Titus 2:1-8

Why? Because they are undeveloped, unskilled, self centered, wretched little sinners. To a toddler they think the world revolves around them. They are the King or Queen of the home and the parents are the butlers and the maids. What do I mean by that statement I just said? One Christian educator cautioned parents not to bribe or threaten their children to get them to obey. What they need is firm, loving, and at times painful discipline. This Christian educator went on to say about being in a home where a bright-eyed grade-schooler sat across the table from him. "Sally, eat your potatoes," said her mother in a proper parental tone. “Sally, if you don't eat your potatoes, you won't get any dessert!" To where Sally winked right at me. Sure enough, mother removed the potatoes and brought Sally some ice cream. He saw this as a case of parents obeying their children rather than "Children, obey your parents".

Many parents are afraid to do what they know is best for their children out of fear or afraid their children will turn against them and think they don't love them. Understand our primary concern is not what they think of you now, but what they will think 20 years from now. As the Hebrew writer said “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Heb 12:11. The task is hard and toilsome but they are worth it! Their souls are priceless!  The home is to be a place of loving discipleship for the glory of God and the glorious gospel. The home is to be a place where Christ is honoured, worshipped and elevated by the family as a whole.
The Sunday question is simple! Are you doing this in your homes? I know, and I hope you know, that none of us can save our children from Hells depths; but we can show them the light of the gospel that leads to eternal life. The great mission field we have as a family and as a church, is our children. This doesn’t guarantee salvation, but it surely is the right place to start and we are to never give up saturating our children with the gospel of His grace and love. Your children will remember what you told them for the rest of their days on this earth if you do this!

I love the Lord with all my life: 
My heart beats because of Him
I breathe because of Him
I live because of Him

And my greatest joy is that He loves me with a perfecting love..... He has saved me from myself and he has given me the responsibility to love His children with the same love that He demonstrated to me with the gospel. Again as Kent Hughes said in his book “Rearing children is like holding a wet bar of soap. Too firm a grasp and it shoots from your hand, too loose a grip and it slides away. A gentle but firm hold keeps you in control” Seeking God for wisdom through the Spirit to lead our children into His sovereign arms of grace. 

This is what I want for my family and what I desire for yours CBC Family! I want our children to experience that for themselves the Gospel truth. So that they say “Jesus is my Lord”. But the only way they will ever be able to say that is unless someone tells them about His precious gospel and His love for sinners like us. And as I said earlier “They are too precious to hand over to someone else, because their souls are priceless.” Remember dads “Men, the mere fact of fatherhood has endowed you with terrifying power in the lives of your sons and daughters, because they have an innate, God-given passion for you.” Kent Hughes. Children obey your parents because they care for your souls. Parents [especially you fathers] teach your children to love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul......for this is the foundation of a family driven faith.


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