Fathers, Anger, Do-overs and…mercy?
From the time I was a little girl, I knew that one of the Ten Commandments was “Honor thy father and mother,”1 and we read that here in Ephesians 6, then Paul adds, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath.” Truthfully, I have not thought too much about Paul’s cautionary words … until now. So I did a search on the question: ‘how do fathers provoke their children to wrath?’ and found something too good not to share. It is a fragment from a letter written by a dad: “My family’s all grown and the kids are all gone. But if I had to do it all over again, this is what I would do. I would love my wife more in front of my children. I would laugh with my children more—at our mistakes and our joys. I would listen more, even to the littlest child. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection. I would pray differently for my family; instead of focusing on me, I’d focus on them. I would do more things together with my children. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise. I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness. And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day I would use to direct them to God.”2 Some of you may have winced, others mentally patted yourself on the back, but no matter which, there are things to be gained by looking at the verse and also this father’s thoughts on ‘if I had to do it all over again’. The verse: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6.4 So… how can dads NOT produce anger in their children? 1) Bring them up to know God. Pray for them and pray with them. Take them to church. Let them catch you reading your Bible. Teach them what God has to say about right living—with regard to integrity, language, work ethic, how to treat others and how you treat their mother, (whether or not you are still married to her), and how you honor and speak of your parents. Note: there is no ending date on either of these things--honoring our parents or not provoking our children to wrath. hmmm, makes me think. 2) Treat your children fairly – as compared to one another and within each one’s own capabilities, not placing unreal expectations on them. When you have to correct them, make sure they know the reason. Discipline fairly and consistently, so children are not left guessing. 3) Encourage, rather than discourage. No one’s words mean more to them than yours—especially in the middle and teen-age years. Build them up, speak words of life to them. Here's the thing--words of criticism by parents replay over and over in a young person’s mind … it seems they can never really be erased. 4) Express your love – Make sure your children know that your love is a constant, even when they mess up. No matter how old they are, no matter how broken things get, keep letting them know you love them... and leave the light on for them. 5) Protect their home – Home should be a place of safety. Parents should deal with anyone or anything that threatens the safety of home for each child--this includes being careful what is shown on Netflix, Youtube, etc. Home should be a safe place, a welcome place for one’s children, even when they have grown. This can be a difficult scenario where one parent is compromised in some way—like being an alcoholic—or in so many cases, as in a single-parent household. Snapshot: One night a young man gave his testimony at Sunday Night Live/Fellowship of Christian Athletes; he shared about how his father’s binge drinking impacted the entire household … it was heart-breaking honestly. Tears filled his eyes as he talked about how much he loves his dad, a respected paramedic, but also a tormented individual. ‘The testimony part? How God made His presence known to him personally—comforting him and taking care of him and his little brother. Tis an awesome privilege and terrible responsibility to be a parent; I know that I have made so many mistakes over the years with my four children. But as long as I have breath, with God’s help, I can love my children well and encourage them, no matter their ages. For as my mama said, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Oh, and Peter said it too—“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”3 Fathers, love your children well. And never, no never, give up on them. Pictured above is Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son, painted about 1669. Jesus talked about the undying, merciful love of our Heavenly Father who never gives up on us in the parable of the Prodigal Son. In mercy, the father never stopped looking for his son, never stopped watching the horizon. >click link to read - [https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15.11-32&version=NLT] One day we will go to the Father's House . . . what a day that will be! Christine song: The Father's House - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHWRlRkkvV0 1 – Exodus 20.12 2 – from John MacArthur’s commentary on Ephesians 3 – 1 Peter 4.8