Nehemiah 10-11

Acts 4:1-22


“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”    —Ephesians 6:4


Towards the end of some of Paul’s letters, he addresses people of different relational categories on how to live out their new Spirit-filled lives. One of the relationships he addresses is between fathers and children—though much of what he says to fathers can apply to mothers as well.

        The opening verse provides two positive instructions for parents. The first involves training, or discipline. While it is never pleasant to discipline our children, a good father does so because it produces “a harvest of righteous and peace for those have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). Fathers are also called to instruct their children morally. It is our job to teach our children to become responsible adults who bring benefit to the world and who care for the needs of others.

        But Paul provides a negative instruction as well to not “exasperate” our children. To exasperate is to “irritate and frustrate someone intensely.” He puts it similarly in Colossians 3:21: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” These are warnings about disappointment, disillusionment and lack of hope. Those with absent fathers understand this, for they know what it is like to feel abandoned by the man who was supposed to raise them, but present and well-meaning fathers can unintentionally cause bitterness and discouragement in their children as well.

        The opposite of disappointment and disillusionment is hope—our forward-looking present confidence. It is helpful to encourage our children to do well in school and to pursue good jobs or professional success, but a problem occurs when we emphasize too strongly the need for achievement as essentials for their future. Many young adults feel distressed because they think not achieving these high standards will disappoint their parents. We must teach and show our children that life does not consist of possessions, performance or position. These are not the goals of our lives; God is the goal of our life. Our hope is to be in Christ and in the outworking of His will and purposes.

        As fathers—as parents—it is our responsibility to train, to instruct, and to encourage this hope in our children. When we trust God and bring Him into every area of our lives, it makes it easier for our children to trust Him too. We cannot impose the Christian life on our children, but as we speak life to them, pray for them, and live our own lives in surrender to God, this will be a stability to our kids that will help them turn to Christ in the day they need to so they can find Him, enjoy Him and experience Him for themselves.


Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray on behalf of all fathers this Father’s Day that they would rise to the calling You have given them, knowing they cannot do so apart from You. Thank You, God.

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