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Any time Godís design is
not functioning in your family, it is obvious that it is not His design.
Somebody is not following His design. A functional family is a family that
operates the way God says it ought to operate. Now we come to
"Children," he says, "obey your parents in
the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the
first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that
you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children
to anger; but bring them up in the disciple and instruction of the Lord."
What is the responsibility of children in
Godís design for the family? We know the wivesí and the husbandsí
responsibilities. Now children, what are your responsibilities in the
family of God and the family that God has given to you?
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord."
Now even before I get into the
outline, we need to qualify the word "children." A lot of times people
misunderstand that word. It is the word teknon. It is the
word that refers to the offspring of a couple, but it is more than that.
It doesnít necessarily refer to a young child. You need to understand
this. In the culture that this was written, they would stay in their homes
until the day they were married. What it is implying here is that if you
are still living under your parentís roof, if you are still letting Mama
and Daddy foot the bills, then you fit in
Ephesians 6:1-3. I know a lot of
the older ones donít like that. I realize there comes a time when you can
make your own decisions and you ought to be making a lot of decisions. The
fatherís responsibility to a child of that age is to encourage him to make
his own decisions. However, if it comes down to it, if one or the other is
going to prevail, Godís Word tends to lean on the fact that if you are
still living under their support, then you are still obligated biblically
to do what they tell you to do.
Letís break this down and see if we can find some practical things that
will help us. How does God design work? You will find it in Godís Word.
What does God say about the childrenís responsibility in the Spirit-filled
THE ACTION OF THE CHILD
First of all, there is the action of children towards the parents that is
required. Verse 1 says,
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
Earlier I was trying to teach you that word hupotasso, and how
wives are to submit to their husbands. That word refers to an equal
submitting to an equal. Paul changes the word here and uses the word that
we said did not apply to wives. He changes it to hupakouo. Now that
is different. That is an inferior. Now in Godís eyes, you are all equal.
But in that family you are an inferior and you are to submit to a
superior, your Mother and your Father. That is what the word means. As a
matter of fact, it is the grace of God if they ever explain to you why
they tell you to do anything because that is what the word implies. It is
like a slave to his master.
Paul uses it again in chapter 6. It is the same word used when we submit
to God. We are not equals with God. In our Christian walk, we are to obey
Him regardless. If we donít understand, that is one thing, but if He says
it we do it, period. There are no questions asked. It is the same word.
You see, there are a lot of families that arenít Spirit-filled. They are
dysfunctional. What is wrong? Youíve got a wife submitting to her husband
and a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church. But you might
have a child in that family who says,
"I am not going to do it your way. I am going to do it my way."
"Now you have a dysfunctional family."
The problem is not the mother. The problem is not the father. The problem
is that kid not wanting to submit to his mother and father. God says, "You
There is a myth going around that says when a child gets saved he is not
as accountable as an adult when they get saved. The Word of God says,
"Listen, whatever you have been given will be required of you."
In other words, God says,
"I have given you the same Holy Spirit that I have given to your mother
and your father. If you claim to be a Christian, you are responsible to
meet the design of God in the family. God will hold you accountable
because the Word of God makes you accountable. The Spirit of God living in
your life requires it out of you."
Thatís the context of the Christian home. Obviously the Apostle Paul is
not including commands that are contrary to the Word of God. That is not
what he is saying. One of the first fears that goes through a childís mind
upon hearing this is,
"You mean to tell me that it doesnít matter what my mother and father tell
me, Iíve got to do it even if it violates the Word of God?"
Never, never, never. That is not even the context of what Paul is talking
about. Paul is talking to Christian families. Paul is trying to give the
design for Spirit-filled homes. God would never have you do anything that
would be contrary to His inspired, inerrant and infallible Word. You are
never required to do anything that would mock the holiness and the purity
of God. But when Paul uses the phrase in verse 1,
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord,"
he is using it in a sense that says if you want to live your life as a
true Spirit-filled believer, the first thing God says is to obey your
There are a lot of Christians, especially young Christians, who think
that, if they love Jesus, the way to show that love is to get involved in
the youth group at church. The Apostle Paul is saying, "No. You obey your
parents in the Lord. If you want to please Him, donít start at church.
Start at home."
Colossians 3:20. Ephesians and Colossians
are basically commentaries on each other. You canít make that all the time
the absolute, but here I think they are complimenting each other. In
Colossians 3:20 he doesnít say,
"Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord."
He says it a different way. I think he brings out what he says in
Ephesians. Verse 20 says,
"Children, be obedient to your parents in all things."
"All things" always refers to those things that God would be honored with.
You are not required to do anything immoral or outside of the will of God.
If a parent ever tells you to do that, back off and say,
"I cannot. I am going to obey my Lord Jesus and that violates His Word. I
will not do that."
God doesnít require you to do that.
"Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is
well-pleasing to the Lord."
That is what he is saying in Ephesians. You do this in the Lord. If you
want to be Spirit-filled, if you want to let the Spirit of God control
you, then let the test of that be when you are willing to obey Mama and
God says, "You do it in the Lord." This is well-pleasing to the Lord.
Young people, do you want to be filled with the Spirit of God? Go home and
start exemplifying the love of Jesus Christ for your Mother and Father.
Let them understand that you are willing to obey them. Let them understand
that they are important to you because you have sensed from Godís Word
that is the design of a holy God for the Spirit-filled family. Then
everything else you do will have Godís anointing touch.
If you find a young person who is belligerent to their parents, you have
picked up an attitude. Young people, in your dating life, when you want to
date a boy and that boy has those right kind of eyes, when the stars get
in his eyes, he knows how to say it better than anybody. Ladies, listen to
what I am saying. That boy will not obey his parents. As a matter of fact,
he stretches the rules his parents have set up for him. He is supposed to
be in at 12:00 but somehow he got in at 12:30. He always makes it look
like there was something else that happened so he can bend it just a
little bit further. His parents gave him so much money to do something,
but he used it for something else. I want to tell you, ladies, you are
acting foolishly if you continue dating that individual. I donít care who
it is. When a young man will treat his parents that way without the
respect and willingness to obey them even though God has put them in a
position of authority over him, then you have got an individual who either
doesnít know Jesus Christ or an individual who is walking directly
opposite from the way God wants him to walk. You donít need to be in that
Young men, you had better remember that about the girls you date. A girl
who will despise her parents in any way is telling you something about her
spiritual walk with God. She has no concept of what it means to be
Spirit-filled. "Spirit filled" describes an attitude that shows itself in
an appropriate action. The required action of
young people to their parents is that they obey their parents.
The verb is present imperative which is a command to do this at all times.
You have no option whatsoever. Yes, the world says a lot of foolish
things, but the Word of God will tell you what the design of the Spirit
filled family looks like. The Word of God is very straight and very clear.
It doesnít give in where we want it to give in. When you find a young
person not obeying his or her parents, not willing to respect them enough
to where he or she would listen to them and do what they tell him or her
to do, youíve got a person who is not walking with God.
What is the action required? A command of children in the familyóobey your
parents. He goes on to say, "for this is right." Dikaios is the
word. It refers to that which is correct, that which is just and that
which is righteous. You could define dikaios another way, as that which is
exactly what it should be. Isnít that good? God never tells us to do
anything that is not exactly what it should be. The only time families get
dysfunctional in the spiritual sense is when the design is broken, when a
wife wonít submit to her husband, when a husband wonít love his wife as
Christ loved the church, when a child will not obey their parents. Then
you have a dysfunctional spiritual family. That is all there is to it.
THE ATTITUDE OF THE
Secondly, there is the attitude of the child.
Now I want you to see this. It is one thing to obey. It is another thing
the way you obey. He says in verse 2,
"Honor your Father and Mother (which is the first commandment with a
Now remember, anybody can go through the action. It is the attitude that
you have before the action that makes all the difference in the world.
There are three motives for any kind of obedience. One is fear. I used to
say to my son: "STEPHEN." "Yes, sir!" "You get upstairs right now." Whooom!
He would get upstairs. Do you think he obeyed me because he loved me? Are
you kidding? He obeyed me because he was scared of getting a spanking.
A second way of obeying is when you want something. Stephen, periodically,
would clean up his room. It is always impressive when he cleans it up. I
"Stephen, you cleaned up your room!"
"Yeah, Dad, I just thought I would do what you wanted me to do."
About ten minutes later he would say,
"By the way, have you got an extra $20? I am going out with my friends
Wait a minute! Why is he obeying me? Because he loves me? No, because he
wants $20. That is why he did what he did. I wasnít born yesterday. I
tried the same thing with my Dad.
The real way to obey is out of love and respect, out of honor. Now I want
to tell you something, when you do that for your parents, you havenít got
a clue how much that is going to minister to your parents. You donít
realize how much they are going to love you in return. You donít realize
how it works the right way. But you have to have the purest of motives to
honor your Father and your Mother. One thing that just blesses me is when
I come home and Stephen has done something. I say,
"Stephen, I appreciate that. Why did you do that?"
"I just love you, Dad."
Whew! I would give him anything he wants. I am as tender as I can get when
it gets to that point because he loves me, not because he is afraid of me.
He loved me, not because he wanted something from me. He loved me because
he wanted to honor me and respect me.
"Young people, you had better put that ingredient into your obedience or
you have missed the whole thing."
That is what He said. How do you do that? The Spirit of God will empower
you to do anything God has ever commanded you to do. God will change your
heart and your attitude. God will change your perspective towards your
parents. Behind the action is an attitude. Honor your Father and your
Paul goes back to the Ten Commandments and pulls out the first commandment
that is fundamental to every relationship that you will ever have. I want
to show you something. If he didnít say anything else about relationships
in the Ten Commandments, this is enough right here. When you get a child
who grows up obeying his parents, not just because he fears them or wants
them but because he truly honors and respects the position of authority
that God has placed them in, then you have a child who will honor and
respect authority of all kinds and will have the kind of decent family
that we need in our country today. God says it starts when you are in that
home. God wants to fill you with His spirit so that you can help carry out
that design in the spiritually functional way.
The word for honor is timao. The word means to esteem, to
value highly, to hold in the highest regard and respect, treat as precious
and to revere. Now if you donít think these commandments are important,
you had better be glad you are living in the New Covenant. Moses, in the
Old Covenant, said,
"He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death."
It is important to God, friend. He says another time,
"He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death."
I want to tell you, we live in such a permissive society. We have pulled
so far away from Godís design that we think it is okay to do anything we
want to with our parents. God says,
"No, it is not. If you are going to be filled with My Spirit, you are not
only going to obey but you are going to have an attitude behind that
obedience which is honoring your father and your mother."
To honor your parents encompasses not only obeying them when they are
young, it also has built into it providing for them when they are old. You
see, if you start off honoring your parents now, you will honor them when
they are old. If you donít love and respect them now, you are not going to
love and respect them when they are old and have need of you. They have
spent thousands of dollars on you, and there is going to come a day when
they get unable to do what they used to be able to do. That is when that
honor really comes to fruition and comes to the surface. You are to not
only honor them when you are young but provide for them when they are old.
That is what that honor is all about.
It is a present attitude that carries all the way through. The action that
is required, obey, hupakouo, as an inferior to a superior. The
attitude must go along with it. Honor your Father and your Mother. It is
not just the act. It is the attitude with which the act is carried out.
What can you look forward to? What is God going to do if you are willing
to do it His way? He says in verse 2:
"(which is the first commandment
with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long
on the earth."
Paul finishes the scripture in
Exodus 20:12 and
5:16. He reaches back and takes a quote that was promised to Israel when
they went into the land of Canaan. It is a very significant promise. It
didnít mean that if you obey your parents you are going to live to be 110
years old. That is not what he is saying. He is saying, "If each of your
families will function the way God set it up and if you children will obey
your parents, then you as a nation will be sustained forever on this
Do you realize how important the families are to our society? The more we
are willing to do it Godís way, the more God says those families are going
to sustain, even the society around you. Then you are going to have a long
time on this earth. Christianity is so effective when it is exemplified in
the lives of people who constitute families. So part of that is children
being willing to obey their parents. However it is not a promise that you
are going to live a long time. He is not promising you a long life, but He
is promising you that the heritage you leave behind will last forever. The
Christian society, the Christian family, the Christian life continues to
go on and continues to have its effect. He does promise the utmost
fulfillment of life, however long the individual has it, if you are
willing to obey and to honor your parents. It will be well with you.
You may have all kinds of difficult circumstances to deal with, and you
may not live as long as you would like to live, but I want to tell you, on
the day you die you will have a fulfilled life. Why? You are going to have
a happier, more stable, more successful life than the individual who
claims to be a Christian who wonít do what God tells him to do and is rude
and is disrespectful and self-willed and rebellious. A child who says, "I
am going to do it Your way, God," has a promise and that promise is you
are going to have the most fulfilling life that you could ever possibly
imagine. Listen, it is a fearful thing to tell somebody you know the
living God and you are not willing to do what God tells you to do. It is a
Maybe we ought to take a pop test. We have been taking them on the
parents. I wonder if we could just have personal interviews with your
parents next week and find out what your attitude is like at home. I
wonder if you are really Spirit-filled or if you are putting on a
performance so everybody will think that you are something that you are
not. You see, you will have a long life in the sense that you will have a
heritage to continue. You will have a sustained life, however long you
live, and it will be as full as you could possibly imagine. Whoever
received Christ has the same amount of God in him as anybody else whether
they are six or sixty. So the action that God requires in the
Spirit-filled family for the child is obedience. The attitude is honor and
respect. The anticipation is that it might be well with you. You will have
such a full life that if you die when you are 18, it is alright because in
those 18 years you will have lived what some people never ever experience
living a full life down here on this earth.
God has a design, folks. Why canít we get with the program? We are always
trying to pamper the exceptions. We are always trying to pamper those
situations that didnít work out right. Why donít we deify the ones that
will work out right. Wives submit to your husbands. Husbands love your
wives as Christ loved the church. Children obey your parents. Honor and
respect them and God will give you a life that is so rich and full that if
you die at 17, you are ready to go because there is nothing else you
really want to experience because of the fullness and the well being of
the life that God gave to you.
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Look at verse 4 of Ephesians 6:
"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in
and instruction of the Lord."
Well, Dads, it is back on us again. You
know, isnít it amazing how much of a burden Paul puts upon men in the
family? Not only are we to love our wives as Christ loved the church, but
we are never to provoke our children to anger.
One of the things I have found in my personal walk with the Lord is there
are days when I am not filled with the Spirit of God. Being filled with
the Spirit of God is moment by moment, and there are some times when I
just donít want God to fill me with His Spirit because I am hard-headed
and I am human! I found when I am that way, my wife has a difficult time
submitting to me. I have also found when I am that way, my children have a
difficult time obeying me. But I have also found that when I am filled
with the Spirit of God, when the love of Jesus is flowing through me, my
wife has no problem submitting to me and my children look forward to
obeying me. The key is men being filled with the Spirit of God. The
Apostle Paul says, "Look men, shape up! You are to love your wives as
Christ loved the church and you are never to provoke your children unto
anger." So the heavy burden is not on the wife. The heavy burden is on the
man, the husband, the father in the family.
When I am filled with the Spirit, when you are filled with the Spirit,
guys, that is when everything else seems to work the way it ought to work.
It is almost like the Apostle Paul anticipated a problem. He tells the
children to obey the parents and then immediately he turns right around
and says, "Now, fathers, donít you provoke your children to anger." He
simplifies the situation by telling them what they are supposed to do and
what they are not supposed to do. I want you to look at the cause of a
child being provoked into anger. Then we will look at the contrast of a
child being provoked into anger.
Read it again. Verse 4 says,
do not provoke your children to anger."
Now this is a commandment and not a suggestion. The verb is present tense,
active voice, imperative mood. Present tense means a lifestyle,
consistently, not just a one-time thing. Active voice means you do it
yourself. Imperative mood means it is a command. You have no options.
Fathers, we will stand before God one day for whether or not we provoke
our children to anger. God gives a standard here. It is high, very high,
and only attainable by being filled with the Spirit of God.
I want you to understand as we get into this that this doesnít mean a
one-time thing. Children will provoke us. We are human, and we are not
always filled with the Spirit of God. By Paul using the present tense here
he is not saying that you canít ever lose it. That is not what he is
saying. He is saying you canít live a consistent lifestyle of losing it.
All of us are going to lose it from time to time. We are going to blow it
from time to time. But quickly that can be healed by simply asking for
forgiveness and helping your child to realize we are all human. None of us
have reached the stage of perfection. But that is not what he is saying
here. He puts it in the present tense. The verb that is used there for
"provoke to anger" is one word. It comes from two Greek words. One of the
words is para, which means alongside. The other word is orgizo,
which is the stage of getting more angry and more angry and more angry.
Orge is the word for anger. Orgizo is more the process of
getting that way. In other words, anger can build. Anger can get worse and
So what Paul is saying is the lifestyle a father lives in front of his
child on a consistent basis has the potential of provoking that child to
anger. That anger, folks, is a deep-seated thing inside of a child. I
imagine there are some adults who are still dealing with anger that they
was provoked while they were being raised by fathers who did not
follow the God's design for fathers. Anger is something that we are
going to see that perverts a childís thinking and reasoning perspective.
Not only that, it also prevents him from emotionally, maturely relating to
other people. It is an anger that sometimes he doesnít even know he has.
It is an anger that perhaps has not been seen.
In Ephesians Paul says,
It is the kind of anger that makes a child like a time bomb,
ready to go off at any moment, ready to simply explode and do things that
the father would never dream his child would do.
another side to the father-child interaction writing...
not exasperate your
He uses another word there instead of "provoke." It is the word erethizo, which means to stir up. Sometimes just the attitude of a
father stirs up a child. A child is doing fine by himself but the fatherís
lifestyle is stirring him up. That is the word.
Then it goes on to say in verse 21,
not lose heart."
Now that is a pitiful word right there. That word means that you have
broken the spirit of a child and the child doesnít even have enough inside
of him to get angry. So on one side you have a time bomb ready to go off.
On the other side you have a lethargic child whose spirit has been broken
all because a father did not fulfill the design God said fathers ought to
fulfill. They canít do it except by being filled with the Spirit of God.
WHAT DOES "PROVOKE" MEAN?
This really caused me to do some thinking. What does the word "provoke"
mean? One of the first things I do when I find a word that I donít quite
understand is to run it through Scripture. The problem with this word is
it is only found one time right here in Ephesians. So I looked at the
context. What does the context of this say? The context is "being filled
with the Spirit of God." What have we already said? When I am filled with
the Spirit of God, it is going to produce a lifestyle on the outside that
is not going to provoke my child to anger. But if I am not filled with the
Spirit of God, it is going to produce a lifestyle that has the potential
of producing anger in my child, pushing him into a state of emotional
anger, deep seated anger either to where he will explode one day or to
where he becomes so lethargic and broken of spirit he hardly ever says
So I began to think of Ephesians. What kind of lifestyle would do this?
Turn back with me to chapter 4. How does a father provoke a child? Let me
tell you, Dads, until you get serious with God, until you get on your face
before Him, until you are willing to obey Him in every area of your life,
you run the risk of pushing your child into a state of deep seated
emotional anger. That anger can pervert every relationship that he ever
wants to have. It keeps him not only from relating to God properly, but
from relating to others. Look at families that have been destroyed because
of one of the spouse still has anger they have
never allowed Jesus to heal and to cleanse. The result in that family is
like a domino effect -- One
falls, another falls, another falls and another falls.
In Ephesians 4:22 (See
message) Paul says,
"that, in reference to your former manner of life,
you lay aside the old self, and
put on the
In other words, when I am filled with the Spirit of God, I am going to
live differently on the outside than I used to. I am going to appear to be
different. I am going to be seen to be different. I am going to make
different choices. I am going to look at things differently. I am going to
have a divine perspective on things than when I am not filled with the
Spirit of God.
In verse 25 letís see what it is about a wrong lifestyle that could
provoke or push a child into the state of emotional anger. Verse 25 says,
"Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you,
with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."
Paul is saying that a person who has on the old garment lives a deceitful
life. Not only would he lie with his lips, he lies with his life. In other
words, everything about him is deceitful.
Now you might say: I am a father and I donít want to provoke my children
to anger. You are talking about putting on a brand new garment, a brand
new way of behavior. You are telling me that if I am not filled with the
Spirit of God that I am going to live a deceitful life. What do you mean
by that? I hope you are asking that question because I am going to try to
answer it. It is living a double standard in front of your child.
can I live a double standard in front of my child?"
Well, you tell your child never to talk about others but your child
overhears you speaking unfavorably about someone. That child looks at you
and sees a double standard. You tell your child to read his Bible and love
Jesus and go to church, but that child never sees you on your knees in
prayer, never sees you in the Word of God, never sees you plow through and
try to learn and try to study Godís Word. He sees that Bible sit on a
shelf day in and day out. Itís picked up on Sunday and put right back on
that shelf. That child says,
"Wait a minute. There is something deceitful about
all of this. You are telling me to
do something and you are not
even willing to live it yourself. You are never willing to admit that you
are wrong. You are always blaming somebody else."
Oh, I want to tell you something, friend, it truly is
When you start watching kids grow up who are bitter or critical, check it
out with Daddy and I guarantee you that you will find it right there in
that house. Because that is a double standard and a deceitful lifestyle.
It is deceitful. Why bring them to church if you are not going to live it
yourself? That is provoking your child to anger. That child hears one
standard from Scripture and he sees another standard in his daddy. You are
preaching a standard that you are not willing to live up to yourself,
living a lie before your child.
Look at Ephesians 4:26:
angry and yet
do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger."
In other words, if I put on the old garment, if I am not filled with the
Spirit of God, my anger is going to have sin with it. What does that mean?
It says in the book of James that the anger of man never accomplishes the
righteousness of God. So there are two kinds of anger: righteous anger and
my anger. When I am not filled with the Spirit of God, what is wrong with
my anger? My anger is directed at the person, not the failure, not what
caused the person to do what he did. But if my anger comes from the Spirit
of God, it is directed at the sin or the problem. It is never directed at
Now put that in the context of the family. Here is a father who harshly
disciplines his child because his child failed. He directs all of his
anger towards the child, never wanting to see what the problem is, never
looking at the sin, never looking at what caused the problem. There are a
lot of men in that boat.
Ephesians chapter 4 verse 27 says,
the devil an opportunity."
The word "opportunity" means exactly that.
In the context of Ephesians 4:3 (click
message) says that we are to diligently preserve the unity of
the Spirit. You canít produce it. You preserve it. The first thing you do
to destroy it is when you donít let the Holy Spirit of God control your
life. You put on that old garment and what happens is in verse 30: "And do
not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption." Let me just say this. When a father will not obey Jesus
Christ, when a father will not submit and get in the Word of God and live
by the will of God, a father opens the door for the devil to play havoc in
his family. It starts with that man who is not willing to bow before the
Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Fathers, do you want to bind Satan off your children? Do you want to cause
him to be absolutely unable to reach your children? Then get on your face
before God. Get into the Word of God and start living like a godly husband
ought to live. That in itself will be protection for your family." Why do
we think it is something we say? Dear Lord, it is how we live. That is
what Paul says in 5:1 (click
message): Donít talk it, walk it! Mime the love of God and
then that love becomes a blanket of protection, an umbrella over your
family that is incredible. Yes, the devil can always get to our kids once
they get out of the home. But I guarantee you one thing, if the devil ever
somehow lures my child into whatever, I want to be sure that I stand
honest before God and blameless that it wasnít in my home. It had to be
outside my home. I want to do everything I can possibly do to keep my
child from being provoked into anger, from getting into a deep seated
emotional state where he canít relate to anybody and doesnít have a clue
about what real freedom is all about.
(click message) says,
"Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him
with his own hands what is good, in order that he may
have something to share with him who has need."
There are two things in that verse that we looked at earlier. One is a
person without the control of the Spirit of God in his life wonít work and
wonít share. If a person does let the Spirit of God control him, he will
share and work. In other words, one is a taker and the other one is a
Now how does this relate to the family? How can we possibly apply this to
the family? Stay in that same flow of thinking. A man who
wonít go to work and support his family has just robbed from his child and
has caused seeds of anger to grow within that child. You see, God destined
us to work. God destined us to be responsible and take care of our family.
A man who wonít do that has caused something that could be irreparable in
a child if he wonít set the stage and the model for him and do the things
he is supposed to do.
Secondly, he refused to share. You see, a person not filled with the
Spirit of God, a father not filled with the Spirit of God, has time for
nobody but himself. He doesnít have time to share with his child his love.
He doesnít have time to share with his child his knowledge. He wonít sit
down with him along the way. He wonít take the Word and explain it to him.
He wonít help the child in any way. A child is almost out on his own.
There seems to be an indication from Godís Word that this is provoking the
child into a state of emotional anger. He is crying out, "Daddy, Daddy,
help me, help me!" But Daddy doesnít have time. Somebody told me the
average time a father spends with his child per day is about four seconds
now. It used to be about 30 seconds. No wonder! We have dads who are more
interested in making a buck than they are in taking care of their own
The Apostle Paul looks ahead and sees a problem. He tells the children to
obey with honor. But then he says, "Now wait a minute. Fathers, donít you
provoke your children to anger." In other words, there is a balance here.
In verse 29 he says,
"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but
only such a word as is
good for edification according to the need
of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear."
Oh, folks, there is a contrast here. Unwholesome or edification. Do you
know what the word "unwholesome" means? It means rotten, putrid. That is
exactly what it means. In other words, it is anything that comes out of
the old garment towards a child which is nothing more than rotten words.
It does not build that child up. It tears that child down.
The word "edification" is the word used for building a house. So one is
constructive, and one is destructive. Remember now, this is not a one-time
thing. This is a consistent lifestyle of talking down to your child. A
person who has no building up words whatsoever in their vocabulary is
always tearing them down. A child makes a B and the father says, "Well,
why didnít you make an A?" He never has anything to encourage that child
whatsoever. It is a consistency, and it provokes that child unto anger.
You know, I am glad it isnít a one-time thing. I was scared of the dark
when I was growing up. My Dad worked a lot of overtime in order to get me
through school. I remember one night, I was afraid of the dark so I came
downstairs and sat on the steps. I had my little teddy bear and blanket. I
was crying. I could see monsters in my closet and all kinds of big things
under my bed. I could see shadows of things coming in my windows, and I
was just afraid. I remember I woke my Dad up. He had been working a lot of
overtime and was a little irritable because of it. Obviously I was
provoking him. I remember him to this day saying,
"Well, alright, you little coward! Come on in here
if you need to and lay on the floor.
Thatís alright if you are going to be a sissy, if you are going to be a
Did that sting me? Well, I am almost 51 years old and I still remember it.
I thank God for a Daddy who didnít do that all the time. He was a tired
Daddy and it was on a night when I shouldnít have gone downstairs. I
should have stayed upstairs. He came to me the next day, put his arms
around me and said,
"Son, I am
I didnít mean that. I was just irritated and I was tired."
Folks, that is going to happen to me and you until the day Jesus comes
back. What I am talking about and what Paul is talking about is the
consistency of never building up your child. You know what I am talking
You see, a lot of people donít know how to build somebody up by what they
say. Everything they say is talking down to them. A child grows up scared
to death of mama and daddy. We are supposed to encourage them, grow them
up and nurture them in the admonition of the Lord. But what we end up
doing is talking them down. I want to tell you something. We donít even
know the damage that is doing to our children. We are living in a
generation right now from the damage done in a previous generation. We are
seeing a monster that has been created that the world has never known
Ephesians 4:31 (click
message) sums it all up:
and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along
with all malice."
Let me just take a quick run through that.
Bitterness. When you get a Dad who is bitter because he got fired
on a job or because of something else and he begins to let that attitude
seep out to his family, he doesnít realize there is a tender little life
there, little ears that donít understand everything his daddy understands.
That bitterness begins to get inside that child. I have seen this in
churches over the years. If you get a Dad who is miffed inside of a
church, you will find a son the same way. Just give it a period of time
and the son will end up exactly like the Dad. Bitter.
Paul uses the word "wrath." Do you know what that means? That
means that you just explode in anger. The word "anger" is the same word we
are looking at in 6:4.
The word "clamor" means loud shouting, speaking loudly and unruly to your
The word "slander" means that you are in a place and you actually talk
against him. You even say things that would demean your own child in front
of other people and the child hears it.
All of this is wrapped up in malice. Malice is the house that all of these
words live in. Let all of it be put away from you.
DADS AND IMMORALITY
There is one more thing that will provoke a child to anger. Look in
Ephesians 5:3-10. Do you know what it is? It is immorality. Dads, let me
say a personal word to you. If immorality is in your life at all, somehow it is going to filter to your child. Incest. Oh, dear God, may it never be named among us! The
damage that would do to a child. Sexual immorality. Yet in the
of Jesus Christ it is rampant today like never before. And we wonder what
is wrong with our generation.
Daily Iíve got to realize that if I donít walk filled with the Spirit of
God, I can produce anger in my children over the years. I can produce
something in them that would cause them not to even be able to relate to
God or their friends or anybody else. As a matter of fact, it would put
them in a state to where they are ready to explode or put them in a state
where their spirit is so broken that they are lethargic and canít even
produce a reaction of any kind.
Being filled with the Spirit of God not only is a command, it is a very
important part of the Christian life. As a matter of fact, it is the very
ingredient of the Christian life. Iíve got to be under the control of God.
He has the only design for my family. Until I am under His control, I am
going to risk pushing my child into a state of emotional anger that may
never be repaired on this earth.
I wish Paul would get off the menís back,
but he hasnít got off yet. What can we do then? What can we do? What are
we supposed to do? None of us have arrived. It scares me to death the
responsibility that God has put on us. We take it so lightly.
Remember this dads, that little child is
watching you. He is admiring you for you are the hero of his life. Make
sure you donít let him down and donít let God down. Be filled constantly
with the Spirit of God. That means when you are wrong, you confess it to
God and you confess it to your child. Keep it transparent, keep it open
and that child will grow up as healthy as you ever wanted to see a child
grow up. He wonít see Christianity as religion. He will see it as the life
of Christ lived out through you and that is what you want him to see.
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The Apostle Paul
certainly has been hard on the men. As a matter of fact, he just doesnít
let up. Ephesians 6:4 says,
"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in
and instruction of the Lord."
A father not being filled with the Spirit
of God is the context of chapter 6.
Ephesians 5:15 began the subject of walking wisely in the midst of a
perverse generation. In the midst of that Paul connects the thought of
5:18 (click message)
"be [being] filled
The word "filled" means controlled by. The simplicity of the message of
Ephesians is that God lives in me and wants to control me. I must bow and
yield in surrender to Him. That is the simplicity of the message. When I
am willing to do that there are certain things that will happen in my
family. You see, God has a design for the family. It was His idea, not
manís idea. Therefore, when I am willing to be filled with the Spirit of
God, I will love my wife as Christ loved the church. Then my wife will
submit to me as an act of obedience to Jesus because she wants His design
to work out in our family. Our children will obey us with honor because
they want to please the Lord. As a father, God will keep me from provoking
my children unto anger. That means when I am wearing the right garment it
does not offend my child. But when I wear the wrong garment, it provokes
him into a state of anger.
Folks, if you have ever lost it with your child, ask them to forgive you.
Go on and be honest. Go to them and say,
"I am sorry.
forgive me? I have asked God to forgive me. Will you forgive me?"
All of us are human. Remember, spirituality is not an arrival, it is a
pursuit. Being filled with the Spirit does not involve perfection, but it
does involve consistency. What kind of consistency? Always doing it right?
No. It involves times when we just choose, out of being human, to do it
our own fleshly way. We always do damage, but immediately upon doing that,
we run to the cross, ask God to forgive us, confess our sin and
immediately repent. We seek forgiveness of whoever it is we have offended,
especially our family. The consistency is not always doing it right. The
consistency is when you do something wrong, you do what is right. You
repent, confess and immediately get back into the flow of the control of
the Spirit of God. It doesnít involve perfection, but oh how it does
When my life shows a consistency, not of repentance, not of confession,
not of seeking to make it right, but a consistency of not caring, a
consistency of no Word of God in my life, a consistency of doing it my own
way, then that is what Paul says will provoke my children and drive them
into a deep-seated state of anger that will pervert and prevent
relationships for years to come unless the Holy Spirit of God intervenes
with the grace of Jesus Christ.
We are going to look now at the contrast and, hopefully, the cure of
provoking our children. Paul not only tells us what not to do, but what to
do as fathers. Look at what he says in verse 4:
provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and
instruction of the Lord."
What a tremendous contrast to what we saw before. The phrase, "bring them
up" is very, very precious. It means to nurture them. It is found back in
5:29 in reference to the way one treats his own body. He nourishes. He
cherishes it. It is found in the way Christ treats the church. It is found
in the way the husband treats the wife. Now we find that the fathers need
to treat the children that way. It means to nurture them. Another way of
saying it is, provide for them with tender care. Another way of saying it
Folks, we have to understand something. Many times we want to treat our
kids as if they are adults. They are not. They are fragile and we need to
handle them with care. That is the word for "bring them up." Treat them as
you would treat your wife, as Christ treats the church, as you would treat
your own body.
There are two things that he tells us to do that are involved in this
nurturing, in this bringing them up, in this handling them with care.
There are two things the father is responsible to do. Now, if he does
these things in the proper love, proper attitude and proper tender care,
it will not provoke his children. Something else may, but this will not.
It will not provoke his children to anger. First of all is discipline.
Paul says again in verse 4:
up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord."
IN THE LORD
Letís take discipline first. Every child, every young person reading this
just cringed. They can see Daddy pulling out the baseball bat. I am glad
my father did not know Hebrew because the word for "rod" in Hebrew means
club! I am very grateful my father was illiterate when it came to Hebrew.
But praise the Lord, young people! The word "discipline" is not a bad
word. It is the word paideia. It means child training, to bring up
There are three things that are involved in this discipline. I found this
over in Hebrews. It is the way God treats us as His children. We are to
treat our own children the same way. In other words, when we are filled
with the Spirit of God, God in us will lead us to discipline our children
and we will do it in His love and His caring way. Turn with me to Hebrews
12:5 and letís look at it. What does it mean to discipline our children?
First, it involves setting standards and boundaries and reproving
the children when they cross those boundaries or break those standards.
Hebrews 12:5 says,
forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ĎMy son, do
not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are
reproved by Him.í"
The word "reproved" means to be exposed. The word "reproved" implies
something that you canít miss. How can you reprove someone for doing
something wrong if there has been no standard set previously.
In other words, I have to set standards and boundaries for my children and
I have to use those standards and boundaries to raise them up in the
nurture of the Lord. You know, Dad, if you have not clearly explained the
standards and the boundaries, then donít get so bent out of shape when
your child breaks them. Have you found that true in your family? So often
I was so busy thinking and assuming that my children understood,
especially when they were little. I just assumed they understood that the
house was clean and they were supposed to keep it clean. But they didnít
know. I didnít preset the boundaries. I didnít properly explain what they
could do and what they couldnít do.
I find so often fathers expect the mother to set those boundaries. The
father, assuming they have been set, corrects the children when the
children didnít know clearly what the boundaries were. God is so good to
us. God just sets the boundaries. Whoever wrote the letter of Hebrews (a
lot of people think it was Paul but we donít know that for sure) was
writing it to the Jews. There is a Jewish flavor to the whole book. He
than Moses. Christ is better than the prophets. Christ is better than the
Think about Jewish history. Go back sometime and read Deuteronomy 28-29.
Look how clearly God not only set the boundaries but He preset the
consequences of breaking the boundaries.
If you are riding down the road and all of a sudden there are these red
lights from behind, you know that you have broken something
that is a law. Now when that man gets out of the police car, he has all
the law backing him. He had a law that we all know and we also know that
we broke it. We have a pretty good idea what the consequences are going to
be. So we donít have to get bent out of shape. The policeman doesnít have
to get bent out of shape. He doesnít have to walk up to the car and say,
"What are you doing!" We know what we have done. He knows what we have
done. We can be reasonable about it.
That is exactly what God does for all of us. God says in His Word, "This
is what is going to happen." There are people all the time getting mad at
"Why does He let
bad things happen in the world?"
God preset the consequences of sin before sin ever occurred and there is
not one man on the face of this earth who can shake their fist in the face
of God. Man sinned, therefore, we now live under the consequence of that
sin. God doesnít yell out of heaven and beat us down. He said,
"This is it. Here is the standard. Here are the
boundaries. It is preset. Now, if you break
are the consequences."
The second thing this discipline involves is to understand that it is an
act of loving your child. Every kid is thinking, "Thanks a lot." I
remember Mother sometimes preset the consequence of beating me. You see,
once those standards were set, once they were clearly explained, when
Mother would finally carry out the consequence, she would always say to
to know this is hurting me more than it is hurting you."
"And I am loving
I could think of other ways, I tell you what. It really is a way of
expressing love to your child.
Look at verse Hebrews 12:6
"For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and
He scourges every son whom
"You mean to
tell me God hurts me because He
Thatís right. And as He hurts me, He is trying to get my attention so He
can heal me in the process. So it is an act of love when you correct your
children. When that child has boundaries, when that child has standards,
that child knows if he crosses those boundaries there are going to be
consequences. That is a godly act of love for your child. Your child needs
So it is an act of loving the child. The child needs the boundaries. The
child needs the standards.
But thirdly, it is the only way in which we earn respect from our
children. Now wait a minute. Maybe you have a personality like I have. I
hate confrontations. Everybody knows that about me. I will do everything I
can do to keep from confronting something that I am uncomfortable with. I
am always at a loss for words. If it comes to a debate, I lose every
single time. I canít even think. So a lot of times I would think,
"Well, I am loving
my child by just letting him go a little further."
No, the way you earn respect from your child is to go ahead and set those
"Now where is
that in scripture?"
Well, look with me in Hebrews 12:9:
"Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline
us, and we
See, the two are connected together.
disciplined them and you respected them? Come on, man, we want freedom."
Freedom in a spiritual sense is never the right to do as you please, it is
the power to do as you should. Somebody has to set the boundaries.
Somebody has to call the shots. Somebody has to say,
cross this or this is the
When you do, you are loving them. When you do you are gaining and earning
their respect. So it involves those three different things.
Look at verse 11:
"All discipline for the moment seems not to be
joyful but sorrowful, [I donít like to
disciplined, do you? I donít like standards] yet to those who have been
trained by it, [Do you see the process? It is a process. We have to
realize that discipline is a process. It is not a one-time thing]
afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
It is going to have a beautiful yield if we will do what God says. It is a
There is one other thing about it. In Revelation 3:19 it is actually
acting like God. When you are disciplining your child, you are acting like
God. Listen to what God says. It is almost the same thing He says in
Hebrews but I want you to see it over here in Revelation because this is
the letter to the churches. He says,
"ĎThose whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be
zealous therefore, and
Jesus is saying,
"Because I am loving you, because I am reproving
you, that is an act of my caring
for you. Now do what you need to
do. Repent. Change your ways and conform to what I want in your life."
So, nurturing my child, bringing him up as a fragile, tender vessel,
caring for him, handling with care, involves first of all setting
boundaries and letting the consequences and the boundaries be clearly
understood by the child. You have to train them in it. You have to tell
them over and over and over again. For instance, if you tell your child
not to go out in the street to play, what does your child do? Is he
taught? Does he understand? Sure, he understands. Sure, he is taught. Does
he go out in the street? Probably. So what do you do? Reprove him. Bring
him back in. Whatever you do, whatever your standard, whatever your
measure of correction is, do it. So the next day comes around. You have
reproved him. You have corrected him. Youíve instructed him. What does he
do the next day? He goes right back out in the street. Every day you keep
doing that and you keep doing that. What are you doing? You are training
that child. Is he trained yet? Not until he gets out of the street. One
morning you forget to tell him and you think,
"Oh no, a bus
You look out in the front yard and there he is, in the yard, not in the
street. What has happened? Is he taught? Yes. Now he is trained by that
standard, by those boundaries and he understands the consequences.
Then secondly, you have something else to go along with it. Just setting
boundaries and correcting them when they break it is not enough. It does
not qualify, much to the disappointment of many fathers. There is more to
it than that. He says back in our text in Ephesians 6:4,
instruction of the Lord."
Bring them up in the discipline and the
instruction of the Lord. There is more to it than just setting rules and
punishing them when they break those rules. The word for "instruction" is
the Greek word nouthesia. It comes from the word noutheteo,
which means to help a person by placing into their mind things that will
benefit them. In other words, you are not just setting rules. You are
explaining those things and you are putting them in the context of their
relationship to God. You are giving them information that will help them
down the road.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:12. We see the word used there and it brings it
out very clearly what it means. He says,
"But we request of you, brethren, that you
appreciate those who diligently
among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction."
In other words, this instruction is important. There is a two-fold meaning
here. Not only is there information, but the primary meaning of the word
means warning, to warn them. So what are we talking about? It is something
that is meant to encourage them. It is information they need to have, but
it serves as a warning for what may lie ahead.
So the father is responsible to take the child aside, not only set
boundaries, not only set consequences, but also to give information and
how this relates to the Lord and how they are to relate to the Lord. He is
to teach his child in the Lord, in the Word and let that child be
encouraged by it. He also is to let all the teaching serve as a warning
for what may lie ahead.
Look in Titus 3:10. We find that word again and we see how it is used. I
want you to see how it is translated as "warning."
man after a first and second warning."
That is the word we are looking at.
Over in 1 Corinthians 10:11 it is the same thing. The word has the primary
meaning of a warning, an admonition. So you are doing it as a father loves
his child, fragile, handle with care. He wants to nurture and bring him
up. He looks out in the world and sees all the things that the child is
going to face. He wants the child to know Christ. He begins to instruct
the child. But in the midst of instructing him in the Lord and taking the
Word to the child, he begins to draw boundaries and tells the child,
this boundary, here is going to be the consequence."
So the child grows up with standards and boundaries. But he also grows up
with information and instruction in the Lord. The two seem to balance each
"Do you mean to tell me the father is responsible to spiritually instruct
children in such a way that Jesus is seen as caring and compassionate
and loving to them?"
This may seem trite to you, but the word "Lord" in
verse 4 means a lot to me. That word "Lord," kurios, in their
culture meant more than just master, like we preach it. It meant
compassionate, caring Lord. Do you realize that when you instruct your
children in the Lord, the way you present Jesus to them is one of the most
important things that you can do for your child?
Ephesians 6:4 says,
"Dad, it is
responsibility to be the spiritual instructor and the spiritual leader of
your family. Donít blame the church! If your child is not doing well, Dad,
where are you missing it?"
It is up to me, as the father, not only to instruct my child, but to
present the character of Jesus in such a way that the child can understand
what is going on around him and be nurtured in the admonition of the Lord
and mature in the midst of even adverse circumstances. The responsibility
is ours, not the churchís, not the youth pastorís. It is the Dadís
responsibility to nurture that child in the admonition of the Lord.
Dadís, we have a responsibility to get our kidís head straight so they can
learn from God, be instructed in the Word, guided with boundaries and grow
up in the midst of whatever circumstances they find themselves. Quit
blaming others and letís understand what our responsibility is from
Fathers, remember, God will come alongside you. God will seek you out to
get your attention somehow. When He gets your attention, you need to sink
your life into His Word, sink your life into the Spirit of God and the
Spirit of God will cause you to raise your children without provoking them
A medical person told me recently that one of the biggest causes of
physical and emotional problems in people is deep-seated anger. I
guarantee you I know where it came from. It came right out of the family.
There was probably a dad who wouldnít get in the Word of God. Because of
that he has a child now rebelling and going the wrong way. He was provoked
with no standards. Anger has risen up within him. He is either ready to
explode or he is so lethargic and so limp because his spirit is broken. He
is probably even suicidal. All because of a dad. That scares me.
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