March 15 I Wednesday
“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” —Colossians 3:21
From the opening verse of this devotion, there are two strong words that describe what fathers should not do: embitter and discourage. The word “embitter” means, “to arouse bitter feelings.” The word “discourage” means, “to deprive someone of courage, of confidence and of energy.” In other words, fathers should not bring their children up with disappointment, disillusionment and a lack of hope.
How does a father embitter and discourage his children? Some of us might expect this to be only the consequence of an absent father, and not present fathers, but it applies to all people. The goal of good parenting is to rear children who are not discouraged, but who are full of hope and whose hearts are free to pursue their dreams. There is nothing distinctly Christian about the previous statement; most wise parents bring their children up with similar objectives. However, there is a difference for those who are Christian parents.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes about the outworking of our union with Christ, when Christ becomes the source of our wisdom and understanding—which flows into how we parent. Although the word “hope” does not appear in the opening verse, the idea of hope does, as the opposite of disappointment, disillusionment and lack of hope is giving our children expectation, encouragement and hope.
Paul writes, “...if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:23). Additionally, Paul tells us, “Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:27-28, NKJV). The gospel of Christ is our hope and out of our hope in Him, we are to warn and teach everyone—including our children—in all wisdom so that they may be complete in Christ. Hope is looking forward to the future in such a way that gives confidence in the present. It is a forward-looking expectation that enables us to live within the present, whatever the present looks like.
If we were to ask Paul, “What kind of freedom from discouragement do you want our children to have?” He may respond, “I want them to be free from the discouragement that God is not guiding and directing them, that God may not be sufficient for them in whatever set of circumstances they find themselves.” The greatest gift that we could impart to the next generation is the hope they can have in Christ—that they can live in dependence on God.
Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, thank You for being the source of hope. Help me to instill this truth to the next generation. In Jesus’s name, Amen!