June 16, 2011
Discipline and Instruction
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We have already studied some of the sins of the great fathers of the Old Testament. Today we will take a look at the duty of fathers. We see that God has very specific positive and negative commands for the spiritual head of the family.
Do Not Provoke Your Children. Jesus Christ provides great training for how to be a Christian father. He made it very plain, and He also had total understanding of the nature of both parents and children. Jesus did not need a degree in psychology or counseling to know about parenting or childhood problems. He created every parent and every child. He knows our thoughts and our ways, and fully understands our feelings. He knows how we respond emotionally to our parents, and what will make for unhappy children. Jesus commanded fathers not to provoke their children to anger. We need to understand this command in the context that Jesus first told the children to obey their parents. Now Jesus commands the fathers to be careful, knowing that the children must obey them. Paul used this root word “provoke to anger” (“παροργίζετε“) in Romans 10:19 to speak about the way that God would anger the people of Israel by using a nation without understanding to make them jealous. Paul also used this same root word in Ephesians 4:26, to describe the fact that you may be angry, and still be without sin. If you let your anger control you, then you may give the devil an opportunity through your unresolved anger (Ephesians 4:27). The point is that fathers must understand that their behavior may anger the child without cause, and all discipline and instruction may provoke anger. We have all seen children have temper tantrums when you to stop them from doing something they should not do, or encourage them to do something they should do. One quality of human nature remains the same: change can often meet anger, especially with children.
Bring Them Up. Jesus commanded fathers to “bring up” (“ἐκτρέφετε“) their children. This word “bring them up” is the same root word used of the husband’s duty to “nourish” (“ἐκτρέφει“) his wife, as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:29). Like husbands nourish their wives, so also fathers nourish their children. While husbands should not treat their wives like children, they should have the same type of concern for nourishing them and promoting spiritual maturity in both their children and their wives. So often we think of mothers raising their children, but the Lord Jesus placed this duty specifically upon fathers. Every child needs a spiritual father nourishing them and bringing them up as the spiritual leader of love in the home.
Discipline. In describing the way fathers should bring up their children, Jesus singled out “discipline” (“παιδείᾳ“). This term means the actions of spiritual fathers that produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). Remember that in this context, fathers must not provoke their children to anger. So, while they must discipline their children, they must be careful not to provoke them to anger. Hebrews 12:11 also tells us that all discipline (“παιδείᾳ“) seems for the moment sorrowful and not joyful. Therefore, we see the larger picture of the father in disciplining the children. On the one hand, they must bring the children up in Christ. They must discipline the children, which will seem to them to be sorrowful and not joyful. Fathers know, and must teach their children, that discipline will produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness (“δικαιοσύνης“). Remember, children obey their parents because it is right (“δίκαιον”). Fathers must also bring up their children in the instruction of the Lord.
Instruction. Jesus commanded fathers to instruct their children in the Lord. Jesus, through Moses, had already commanded fathers to “teach them diligently to your sons 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 up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). This term “instruct” (“νουθεσίᾳ“) means teaching, admonition, and warning. It may include the concept of confrontation about misbehavior. So it includes a positive aspect of teaching, and a negative aspect of correcting or admonishing bad behavior. Therefore, fathers must both positively instruct their children, and also confront them and correct them about their bad behavior. The phrase “in the Lord” means that all fathers do towards their children should be done in the Lord. Notice the similarity to the wives being subject to their husbands as to the Lord. All we do in the family essentially is in the Lord Jesus and for His glory. Any time a father becomes too busy to spend regular time instructing his children and correcting them, then he has also become too sinful. The Lord Jesus will empower every husband to bring their children up in the Lord, and to discipline and instruct them.
So we learn about fathers and children today.
● Being a father means that you avoid provoking your children to anger.
● Being a father in Christ means that you discipline your child and instruct your child in the Lord. Being there and making time to discipline and teach your children must be a top priority in your life.
● Being a father in Christ means that you put Christ first in your life, and then take the time and make the effort to raise your children in Christ. Recently, I encouraged a father to have his first family devotion with his wife and child. I mentioned he might want to read Psalm 1 and then pray with his wife and have his child present. No matter how old your children are, family devotions will always stick in their minds as something they did with their father, and entire family.
Application for Today
I really enjoy talking with fathers about raising their children. I know that Jesus had many things to say about raising children. So many people listen to Dr. Phil, or Dr. Oz, or some other “expert” on life or health. We should all listen to Jesus about His commands for living and raising children. Will you spend time reading the Word of God and praying with your family today? You must instruct your children, and nourish your wife. The Word of God requires all fathers to spend time teaching their children every day, at home, on the way, and in all that they do. Will you spend time disciplining and instructing your children today?