‘And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ — Ephesians 6:4
The life (‘walk’) of the Spirit-filled believer should revolutionise husband-wife relationships (Eph 5:22-33), parent-child relationships (Eph 6:1-4), and slave-master relationships (Eph 5-9).
What is interesting in Ephesians 6:4 is fathers are mentioned but mothers are not. Fathers are told: 1) ‘provoke not your children to wrath’, but 2) ‘bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’.
Of course, mothers are involved in this process, but the primary responsibility of rearing the children is laid on the shoulders of fathers. This is very different from the way that we tend to think of child-rearing and the way most homes function.
Often children are left almost primarily to their mothers to raise. In many homes, fathers are completely absent and children have no father to bring them up. Yet, God expects fathers to take responsibility for raising their children.
This does not mean that mothers are not involved or that fathers must have more time with their children than mothers do. But what it does mean is that fathers understand that they are ultimately responsible before God for their children’s upbringing.
Fathers, we must guard against those things that would provoke our children to wrath. We must do our best to provide for them, be there for them, love them, forgive them, teach them, and discipline them. For loads of practical advice on being a wise father, look at examples in Scripture and especially the content of the book of Proverbs.
Fathers, we must also bring our children up in the nurture (training) and admonition (instruction) of the Lord. This is ultimately a spiritual task of discipling our children, teaching them God’s Word, giving them the gospel, and training them in how to live for the Lord.
Fathers, are you there for your children? Can they sense you taking leadership of their upbringing? Do you see being a father as one of your most important roles? In what ways are you provoking your children to wrath? In what ways are you failing to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
Being a father is a daunting task, but the power of the indwelling Spirit is there to help us, to equip us, and to guide us.