The Christian household is important to God, and in Colossians 3, Scripture shares instructions for us on the parent-child relationship within the home.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” Colossians 3:20
T turned 2 this past week, and if you’ve ever met a child who is obedient at this age, please praise them and praise God for them. We have moments of obedience, but for the most part he does the exact opposite of what he is asked to do, unless of course he agrees with it (rarely the case).
Our children have to learn this concept early on, and we have to help them by reinforcing it throughout their childhood. A part of our call as parents is to teach them to die to self and to do what is right and honoring onto the Lord, not simply what they desire for the moment.
Obedience challenges a child’s defiant, sinful nature, as submission challenges the wife’s desire for control and Christ-like love challenges the husband’s upholding of his own desires.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
Fathers play a vital role in the lives of their children. They have the task of molding them into responsible adults. Naturally fathers are strong-willed and goal-minded, and this natural tendency can lend itself to bitterness and exhaustion on the part of their children.
Do you know a father whose kids are simply never sure that they can earn his approval?
This is the case in many households. The scenario plays out that the children are reaching, hoping to meet the mark and live up to the rules of the household and the expectations that dad has for them.
And there are instances when the bar is set so high that the children simply give up. They stop trying and they turn to others or to other forms of parenting figures for approval and acceptance.
It would be wrong to assume that this is exclusive to fathers. The same challenges can be present with moms as well.
Don’t embitter your children in this way is the caution of the apostle. Don’t turn your household into an unrealistic escapade and don’t make success unrealistic and unachievable for your children.
Don’t squeeze so hard that you, instead of encourage them to pour out their fruits, cause your children to combust.
A child’s discouragement is a painful experience for both the child and the parents. Children may act tough and rough, especially as they get older, but under the rough edges lie a little person seeking the approval and the encouragement of their parents.
A God-honoring household where children are taught biblical values is the best way to raise children. It honors God. Ultimately, the goal of our rearing is to point our children to God and to turn their hearts to Him in service and dedication. We want Him to take their lives and mold them into the people He created them to become, and for them to honor Him with their every breath. This is done in love, structure, forgiveness and amiability.
I believe that this too transforms the parents into better Christians. Being patient with our children is a part of our own growth and sanctifying. If we do it in a way that is honoring unto the Lord, our children benefit greatly from it, but our hearts are also transformed.
And let me be the first to say just how plain hard all of this is to do. I happen to be writing this last paragraph on a day when my 2 year old skipped his nap. I needed the nap. It’s difficult when the impromptu happens, or when challenges are thrown in the mix, or a number of other inconveniences.
I won’t pretend that this chapter has been easy to read, apply or write about, but judging my how long it’s taken me, you probably figured this much out.
Parents with respect for the Good News is hard, but it is worth it. There will be sweat, apologies exchanged, sleepless nights and moments of plain insufficiency, but lean on the cross. The cross is sufficient to fill every gaping hole.