Ephesians 6:1-4 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
I thought about writing on verses 1-3 today. It was tempting, as I could get some good instruction in there for my kids. But then I realized that my kids do not read my blog (the oldest is 9), so I guess I will go ahead and write on verse 4 instead. Chances are there are some parents out there that will be reading.
As Fathers, we are told not to exasperate our children. This word “exasperate” means to frustrate, irritate, or annoy extremely. I am kind of bummed out by this verse, because sometimes it is fun to annoy my kids. I’m talking about the stuff like dancing crazy in the car to embarrass them or asking them the same questions over and over again that they ask me. It’s fun, but apparently I’m not supposed to do that. Unless this verse means something else.
Good news – it does. The second half of this verse gives us the context of exasperation. There’s this pivotal word sandwiched between the first half of the verse and the second. This word is “instead.” In other words don’t do this, do the opposite of it, which is… And the second part of this verse tells fathers to bring their kids up in the training and instruction of the Lord. So I have two choices: I can either bring my kids up in the training of the Lord, or I can not do that and exasperate them.
So that’s what this means! Exasperating my children is simply this: not giving them the ways of the Lord. It is failing to teach them and set moral guidelines for them. It is forgetting to deposit truth and life into them. Failing to do this will leave them confused and frustrated. They will grow up and not have a compass to guide them. They will get lost in the shuffle of life and swallowed up by the world.
Even though this is all true, fathers do not take the time to teach their kids the ways of God. Instead, they either count on the Sunday school program to do all the teaching or they decide to teach the child nothing and say they are giving him the choice to decide for himself. Either way, dads are relegating their responsibility to someone else. The latter method (letting them figure it out themselves) is especially destructive. Why? Kids want to know what their parents stand for. Chances are, when the kids discover that their parents stand for nothing, it will create insecurity and mistrust.
So dads, how are you doing? Are you bringing up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord? You’ve got to ensure that this stuff is happening within the walls of your home. Please, do not exasperate your children. Choose the “instead” option.