4 Fathers,[a] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Like all people, Christians can be both negligent toward instructing their children and overly harsh. It is even possible to be both at once! This verse reminds us that we are all under the authority of King Jesus. After children are told to be obedient, parents (fathers) are instructed in how they are to care for their children. At first glance it would seem unrealistic to say, “don’t exasperate your children.” However, in the context of relationships in the light of the gospel it makes perfectly good sense. In teaching children about life, it is not all about “do this, don’t do that” with an oppressive authoritarian attitude. Rather, Christian parents regard the gospel as the greatest blessing for their life and the great motive for living a godly life; the same applies to their children. This verse is simply reminding us that children need to be provided with a framework of behaviour but also greatly encouraged (trained and instructed) by the mercy, grace, and love of the Lord. Then, God willing, they will be motivated by Jesus to live in appropriate ways.
We never manage this well which is a further reminder that all of us, parents, children or neither, need the constant knowledge that our hope lies in Jesus Christ our Lord who died to bring us forgiveness. However great our failure might be as parent or child, there is full and complete forgiveness in Christ.
David Johnston – Creek Road Campus