Text: Ephesians 6:1-4
The Big Challenge
Parenting is one of those topics that Scripture addresses but it does not give us a point by point, do this or do that, list of instructions. Instead God in his perfect wisdom has communicated to us the necessary principles that should be the foundation or our parenting. It is essential that Christian parents understand and consistently live these principles. From these principles parents must make wise choices concerning specific areas of parenting. God’s Word will always guide the work of the parent.
The Big Picture of Parenting
Parenting is a long-term process of training a child to one day be an effective worshiper and servant of God. Effective Biblical parenting hinges on the parent having the correct mindset and then faithfully living out that mindset in the home.
Problems in Parenting
Like everything in the believer’s life, most problems in parenting are truly a spiritual problem, so always focus on spiritual things in parenting. As well, many times the problems in parenting are not with the kid, but with the parent.
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
There are some very clear principles contained in Paul’s letter to Ephesus. Chapter 6 briefly mentions several vital concepts that parents must understand and live out in the parenting process.
#1: Require Obedience– children are commanded by God to obey their parents. Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; Scripture says it is the right thing to do. Therefore, parents to not require it is a failure on your part to uphold God’s Word in front of your children. Some parents wish for obedience, others expect obedience, but very few actually require it.
Illustration: “The parent who studies to subdue [self–will] in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil’s work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable, and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever” (cited in The Journal of John Wesley [Chicago: Moody, n.d.], p. 106).
#2: Bring them up with nurture- this is the first descriptor in how children are to be brought up, according to Paul. The Greek word for ‘bring them up’ is the concept of – to rear up to maturity, to cherish or train. Paul then commands parents to train up the children with nurture. The greek term translated ‘nurture’ is pahee-di’-ah. It means: tutorage, disciplinary correction and its associated with other terms like chastising, chastisement and instruction. To boil it down simply, Paul’s instruction to ‘nurture’ refers to the physical aspect of the training process of a child.
Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
The process of raising a child, training up a child, must include a physical component. In the job sector, the training of a new employee may include much classroom learning, but usually always will contain a certain amount of hands-on, physical training. Likewise children are Biblically trained up through the use of a healthy amount of physical training. Physical training may include the following:
* modeling– this is physically demonstrating and showing a child how to do something. The physical act of getting on your knees to pray, the physical act of writing out your offering envelope, etc…
* punishment– this is physical consequences for poor behavior, it could include cleaning projects, physical labor, etc…
* spanking– this is physical discipline for poor behavior. Scripture encourages this form of discipline, and calls the parent unwise who neglects to use this discipline.
#3: Bring them up with admonition- this is the second descriptor Paul uses in describing the training process of a child. This term comes from the Greek- noo-thes-ee’-ah. It is the concept of calling attention to, a mild rebuke or warning. In short this term refers to the verbal component of training up a child. Admonition may include things like encouragement, mild rebuke, quoting Scripture, teaching by lecture, etc…
These are some clear principles for parents in Ephesians 6:1-4. They are not necessarily popular in culture, but they are God’s Word. Errors of mindset by parents concerning these principles will produce significant parenting challenges down the road. This wrong thinking by parents produces a number of myths. Webster defines a myth as – a widely held but false belief or idea. Consider with me this morning a few common myths held to by parents.
Myth #1: ‘Our kids are pretty good kids.’
This is perhaps one of the most common myths heard today. It is on the surface quite innocent sounding, but when we truly listen and consider it we must recognize that blatantly contradicts Scripture. Scripture clearly addresses the condition of mankind, ever man, woman, boy and girl are described the same way in the Word. The book of Romans makes this truth ever so clear.
Ro 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The failure by parents to see their children as God sees them leads to significant issues down the road.
Myth #2: ‘Children must be the first priority in the home.’
This is a phrase so common today. Have you heard it before? This myth is an extension really of those in the psychology field who teach that the successful family is a child-centered family. In this philosophy success is only possible by making the children the highest priority. From this mentality comes the parenting advice given so frequently: ‘the more attention you give your children, the better they will turn out’.
Preacher what danger is there in this? What can possibly be wrong with making our children the first priority? The danger in this myth is this, God did not design the home to revolve around the children. God instituted the home on the union of a man and woman in marriage. That marriage bond is directly submitted to God, and it is to be the strongest and most important relationship in the home. Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Children cannot be the first priority in the home because Scripture very clearly lays out the list of priorities:
#1- God; #2- spouse, #3- children. Elevating children to #1 priority is dangerous because it is first of all sin- it makes something more important than God in your life. Secondly it is dangerous, because it diminishes your marriage relationship.
Myth #3: ‘The behavior of my children is a sure measure of successful parenting.’
This myth can sound so true at face value, but it is truly inaccurate. Especially as children age, their behavior may not be an accurate measure at all concerning the success of parenting. Obedience may be outward with no true grounding in the heart.
The more accurate statement should be this- ‘My response to the behavior of my children is a measure of successful parenting.’ The response of parents is so vitally important because it reveals specific parenting qualities:
- perseverance or lack thereof
- consistency or lack of it
- hard-headedness (determination)
Myth #4: ‘My children belong to me.’
This myth is a blatant lie from the devil and it has permeated the church. Initially this myth begins with incorrect ideas like this: ‘My children are my property, and it’s my right to raise them the way I desire.’
But that is not all, I submit to you this myth has far-reaching impact. I think it goes something like this-
- my children belong to me- they are not going to leave me to be a missionary.
- my children belong to me- I don’t want them to throw their life away by going to Bible college.
- my children belong to me- I want them to play sports on Sunday, because sports could change their life!
- my children belong to me- no one knows better than me how they should be raised.
What does the Bible say? Psalm 127:3- Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord… some versions write it a ‘gift from the Lord’. Children do not belong to us, they are entrusted to us by God, for a period of time, to train them how to live for Him.
This myth should more accurately be stated this way- ‘My children belong to God’.