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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4 (NKJV)
The Book of Ephesians contains some of the most instructive guidance on how to do relationships in God’s Word. Paul goes on a “relational spree” as he hits on the proper relationship between husbands and wives, children and parents, and employees and employers (Ephesians 5:22–6:9).
A theme is also woven throughout this passage that binds everything together: accountability—specifically accountability to God, Himself (Ephesians 5:21). We are ultimately accountable to our Heavenly Father when it comes to how we conduct our earthly relationships.
This sense of accountability is so powerful when we apply it to the relationship between earthly fathers and their children, because fathers are to reflect the Father. In the passage above, we see that fathers are given a negative and then a positive command with regard to how they relate to their children.
The negative: Fathers are commanded against provoking their children to wrath. What does that mean? A child inherently admires and looks up to their father. They want the acceptance of their dad. But a father’s influence can be used negatively. If dads knowingly or unknowingly establish a bar of acceptance that their child feels like they’re failing to clear it, their admiration will turn into frustration, resentment, and even wrath.
Dads need to beware of this! What children do might not always be acceptable, but who they are should be, for that’s our Heavenly Father’s heart towards us! Earthly fathers need to prevent anything from suggesting to their child that they aren’t always accepted for who they are.
The Positive: Beyond this, dads are also to use their influence in a positive way by bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. In other words, earthly fathers are to invest time and attention into their children’s lives by teaching them about their Heavenly Father.
Teaching a child life-skills, like how to play with others, kick a ball, read a book, ride a bike, interact with adults, and write a paper are all important. But a dad’s primary duty is to make sure their child knows what they need to know about God. This is the greatest need a child will ever have and the greatest thing a dad can provide.
Dads are accountable to reflect the Father to their children in both what they don’t do and in what they do.
DIG: What should a father not do and do? Why?
DISCOVER: How have you seen these principles play out in your own experience?
DISPLAY: Dads, today let’s commit—and recommit every single day—to being the kinds of parents the Lord has called us to be. Let’s endeavor to train our children up in the ways of God and make them feel loved and accepted every step of the way. Children, pray for your parents today. Whether they have been obedient to God in this area or not, lift them up and ask the Lord to do a work in them.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.