Winning With Your Children: Ephesians 6:1-4
Everybody wants to win! I’ve even noticed with little children there’s something within their nature that drives them to win.
On occasion the grandchildren will play in our front yard and they will want to race. Of course, Dane is older, faster, and much quicker than his younger sisters and they will race down the hill and back and want us to count to see who is the fastest. They haven’t figured out yet that the best way to see who is the fastest is to run at the same time, but they haven’t figured that out yet, so they let us count individually as they run. Of course, in that system the winner is determined by how fast or slow we count while the kids are running. And when we say, “You win!” to the little girls they get so excited and pleased with their achievement.
Winning in life is not like a child’s fixed race, nor is it like an NFL rigged “deflategate” football game. It’s a plan of due diligence and hard work. To have a winning family means discipline, determination and focus. To have a family that brings honor instead of shame and pain means playing by the rules. Families that win don’t happen by accident or fate. They happen on purpose that’s why Solomon challenged, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
And he also warned that, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). In other words, you can’t let the child rule the home by their temper tantrums, crying spells, or their threats of doing whatever, or of not loving you, or not being your friend. Unfortunately, most parents in today’s culture are as undisciplined as many of the children they are raising and it’s a lose/lose for everyone involved; the family, society, and the church. Some parents even seem to be more concerned with their child being their friend and being loved by their children than in being their parent. Nowhere in the Bible are children commanded to love their parents other than the general command to “love your neighbor” and “love one another”.
The apostle Paul is addressing the issues of the parent/child relationship as it affects spirituality in the home and the church, “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” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
This relationship begins with...
Discipline (Verse 1a).
The charge here in verse 1 is to the children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right....” (1a).
Implied in this command is that parents are to disciple their children in positive, biblical disciplines “in the Lord”; teaching them right from wrong, developing spiritual character, instructing them in truth and righteousness. Paul is basing this part of Christian behavior in the church on the 5th commandment given in the Exodus 20:12, as well as other Old Testament instructions. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
The word discipline is a derivative of the word disciple. Jesus told us to “Go and make disciples of all nations...” (Matthew 29:19), which means go and make disciplined followers of Jesus Christ. You can’t be a true disciple your self without personal discipline. So, it stands to reason, that if we want our children to grow up to be well-adjusted, self-sufficient individuals who can think for themselves, as well as take care of themselves, we have to disciple them early on in their lives to learn the skills necessary for that to happen. This is not the responsibility of the church, the schools, and especially not the government. This is parental responsibility. Every parent is obligated to fulfill his or her role as disciplinarians in the home. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Training a child, in this context, means learning the child well enough to understand what type of stimulus to which they will respond or react. It means understanding their bent. Those of you who have more than one child know that no 2 children are alike, even though they have the same set of parents. One will respond to a word of correction and instruction, another will only comply by use of corporal punishment. BTW for those of you, who buy into the devil’s lie about corporal punishment, need to know this; the jails are filled with kids whose parents “loved my child so much I could never spank them” mentality. I know a 55 year-old man today, serving life in prison for murder, since he was a teenager, whose parents believed that lie. The Bible says, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). He’s talking about disciplining your children, not beating them (I’ll elaborate on that later).
For you young people out there this morning you need to know that God has commanded you to obey your parents in the Lord. That means that anything your parents tell you to do, you are to do it, whether you feel like it or not, or want to or not. And you’re to do it immediately. They are NOT picking on you, and even if they are, you are still commanded to obey them: #1 Because God told you to obey them and, #2, because they are helping you to become a disciplined person, with character, who can eventually hold down a job and become a productive worker in the work force and make an honest living.
Do you know what most employers are saying about your younger generation? They say that you have no work ethic, you can’t or won’t follow instructions, and that you are entitled and lazy. This is one of the reasons most corporations are outsourcing work to other countries or hiring foreigners. My sister is the HR director for a small corporation up in PA and she said that her Vietnamese workers are the best employees because they will work hard and for however long they are needed, without complaining. You also need to understand this, your boss doesn’t owe you anymore than an honest wage for an honest days work. The Bible says, “For if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
So parents, if you are going to have a winning family you need to discipline your children properly to instill disciplines in their character in order that they may win in life too. This is every parent’s responsibility and priority.
But there IS a qualifier for obeying your parents; it says, “in the Lord,” meaning if your parents demand that you do something that is a clear violation of God’s Word then you are to respectfully disobey, and then willingly suffer the consequences from them for it.
And I say respectfully because the text goes on to say that you are to
Honor Your Parents (Verses 2-3). “Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise.”
While children are to obey their parents “in the Lord,” there is no such qualifier for this commandment. No matter what our parents may be, have been, or have done, or are doing right now, we are to honor them. That is, we are to give honor to their position.
They may have forfeited the privilege of your respect by their actions and/or attitudes and consequently lost your confidence, but that doesn’t negate the command to honor them. And sometimes you have to work real hard at finding ways to do that, but you must for two reasons/God’s promises (and God always keeps His promises):
•Life will go better for you. “...that it may be well with you...” (3a)
•Long life. “...and you may live long on the earth” (3b).
First of all, you honor your parents by honoring God in your own life... remember that phrase; “obey your parents in the Lord”? It’s “in the Lord.” Living a life that glorifies and honors God is a life that ultimately honors your parents, whether they even realize it or not.
So, if you will honor the Lord and your parents, life will go well for you and you will live a fulfilled and complete life here on earth.
I fear that too many adults today that suffer from so many conflicts and issues, and yes, even health issues in adulthood, due to the fact that they have failed to honor their parents in a God-honoring manner.
Honoring our parents’ means speaking respectfully to them, though they may have not earned that respect. We are to do so no matter what the relationship we may have with them.
A family that wins is a family where the children obey and honor their parents, and the parents work hard at giving them the desire to do so, which is what the next verse addresses:
Paul admonishes as parents to...
Respect Your Children (Verse 4).
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (4).
There is a reason for this warning, and that is because: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Our children are not our possessions, much less the possessions of the state, or anyone else. Each and every child is a gift from God and there are no accidents or mistakes. So as parents we have two responsibilities here:
Don’t Provoke Them (4a). I said a moment ago I would address this issue of corporal punishment and I will now. Much of what is called corporal punish today is nothing more than child abuse. And this verse addresses that issue. When we discipline a child in a manner that is demeaning and/or physically harmful that is provoking rebellion in them. We are warned: DO NOT DO THIS! Spanking a child out of an outburst of anger or a quick over-reaction is provoking them.
The whole purpose of corporal punishment is to bring the child into a healthy and wholesome line of behavior and thought. The “rod of correction” in the Scripture was not a fearsome object; it served as a goad to keep the subject in line. For example, a shepherd would use his rod to keep the sheep from straying off the path or to protect them. Remember, Psalm 23: “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
When you have established healthy and reasonable rules and clearly understandable boundaries for your children, and your discipline of them is consistent and in line with those boundaries, your children will come to understand that it is much more beneficial to stay within those perimeters, and life is good and safe. In fact, they will find comfort in the rod rather than rebel. Solomon wrote that, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
And that leads to the next responsibility. Parents are to...
Teach them the knowledge and fear of God (4b).
In order to teach our children we must be disciplined in our own lives. There are some things that are better caught than taught. I learned how to memorize Scripture from listening to my dad memorize. I learned how to tithe from watching my dad tithe, even when it didn’t look like there would even be enough money to put food on the table, much less pay the bills. I learned how to give over and above my tithe by watching my dad give very generously, to the point of sacrifice. I learned how to have a quiet time in learning of God by watching my mother read and study the Word in her quiet place. I learned the importance of church membership and regular attendance from my parents taking me, not just sending me, to church every Sunday. I learned to fear God by watching my dad fear disappointing God more than anything or anyone else in the world. I learned to win souls to Christ watching my parents witness on a regular basis. Most of what I’ve learned for ministry didn’t come from my academic training (I have a Master’s degree from LBTS), most of what I know about ministry came from watching and listening to my parents. What are your children and grandchildren learning about the knowledge and fear of God? Do they have a wholesome perspective?
Conclusion: If we are going to have families that win, we must be determined and disciplined with all diligence to be spiritual winners as parents, especially as fathers that have the responsibility of the spiritual leadership in the home.
Dads, Moms, do you really know God? How can you lead your children if you don’t?
Do you really fear God? Is it evident by your behavior, activities and priorities in your life?
Let me close by saying this: Parents, your children have been created with a free will just like you were and they will have to make their own decisions as to the paths they will follow in life, and though you do all that you are commanded to do, your child may still rebel against you and God, but if you have been spiritually faithful and consistent in your parental responsibility, you can pillow your head in peace. But if you have been derelict in your spiritual leadership in the home Jesus has this warning for you: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). What an awesome warning.
Do not sin against the children!
Message is from my friend, Pastor Mark Grooms, Thomas Terrace Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA. Edited by Dr. John: firstname.lastname@example.org