My bible has a subheading at the start of Ephesians chapter 6. It says:
Family Responsibilities; the Christian’s Armor
The first four verses are:
- Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
- “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:
- “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
- And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
In reading these scriptures today, verse four jumped off the page and I could not get it out of my mind. As a parent, I have quoted the “only commandment with promise” to my children on more occasions than I can count. I have done this in rearing my children so they will learn a respect for my husband and myself and a fear of the Lord. It has been successful when used in conjunction with a bible lesson or a teaching moment. As a result, I have very well behaved, well mannered young adults whom love the Lord, desire His teaching, and honor my husband and myself in all they do whether they are with us or away from us.
However, I have never paid much attention to verse four. After thinking on this some today, it would seem that as parents we have responsibilities to our children. These responsibilities I now believe go beyond just “raising them up in the way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Not provoking our children is something I have not really considered. What could that mean? They are children. How I can provoke them to wrath (anger)? I concluded that I do this through my actions and through my tone of voice. My behavior at home tells them a lot of what I am thinking about. If I am stomping around the house angry or throwing stuff around, then I am not approachable and am likely going to say something in anger that 1) should not be said and 2) should not be directed at the children. If I fail in this task and do speak out of my own anger, then I do run the risk of provoking my children to wrath. The logical question out of the mouths would be what have I done to deserve this? Then rebellion can enter because they want to "get back at me." If I do not take the time to apologize and ask for their forgiveness, then I run the risk of allowing anger, bitterness, resentment, and even rebellion building up in their hearts. After all, they are only children and my example allows me to teach them how they should act and behave.