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A daily devotion for April 29th

Don't Exasperate

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

It has been pointed out that this word translated Fathers could well be translated Parents because it includes both the father and the mother. It is also true that the emphasis is laid largely upon the father, for it is his responsibility as to what the children become. That is sobering, is it not, fathers? But it is true. Mothers may enforce policy, but it is the father's task to set it, and to see that his children are raised properly. There is nothing that is more dishonoring to the spirit of Christianity than the attitude adopted by many fathers: It is my job to make the living; her job is to raise the children. Not in the Word of God! In the Bible, the ultimate responsibility for what a home becomes is the father's.

Exasperate means to provoke anger which results in a rebellion. It is the word from which we get our English word paroxysm. Fathers, do not provoke your children to the place where they completely lose control and break out against authority. There are two things which provoke a child ultimately to rebel against his parents: Indulgence and harshness. These two things are the negative of the two things Paul instructs the father to do: Bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord. The opposites of these instructions are indulgence and harshness. Indulgence will make a child insecure, miserable, and self-centered. That is what we call a spoiled child — one who grows up to expect to have his way in everything and who rides rough-shod over the feelings of everyone else. The other extreme is harsh, demanding discipline which is never accompanied with love, concern, or understanding. Rigid, military discipline which says, Do this, or this, or else, will inevitably drive a child to revolt as he comes to adolescence.

I once asked some high school students, What are the areas which create the most resentment toward your parents? The one thing that was most widely experienced was this: They don't let us take a chance. They don't let us make mistakes. Most Christian parents think we are there to keep them from making mistakes. We are not. We are there to help them make mistakes early enough that they can learn from them while they are still not too serious. If we keep them from making mistakes until they get into adolescence, then the ones they make will ruin them. A parent's job is to help his children have an opportunity to make mistakes and thus learn. Provide counsel in an informal setting. Spend time to build a relationship which makes our counsel acceptable. Set limits. Build in some restrictions. But discipline demands a context. You have no right to discipline unless you have also given them time and interest.

Father, you are not just the God of the present and of the future, but also the God of the past. Thank you that you can change the mistakes I have made as a parent into opportunities for advancement in my children's lives, as well as in mine. Amen.

Life Application

How can I provide training and instruction for my children that will build them up rather than exasperate them?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Parents and Children

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