“Don’t Provoke Your Children” – Ephesians 6:4a

The text this morning’s sermon comes from Ephesians 6:4. These are the words of God:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
If you are new to Lake Wylie Baptist normally, we preach though books of the Bible expositionally. That is, we normally work consecutively through books of the Bible a few verses or even a chapter a week. We do that because the Bible is God’s own self-revelation to us and we take it seriously.
But occasionally, as need arises, we will address various topics in the life of the church. For the next three weeks we’re preaching a series called Parenting Tune Up for two important reasons: First, because God has blessed our congregation with many new families with young children. We want to equip and encourage you parents in the role God has assigned you.
Second, we live in a world that is pursuing high-handed rebellion to God as our Creator, designer, and purpose-giver. And in that war on the authority of God on of the hottest battlelines is that of the family. Our culture is desperately trying to redefine what the family is in such a way that anything can be a family, and eventually nothing will be a family. And over the last two years we’ve seen our culture actively undermine the authority of parents—we’ve especially seen this undermining take place as school boards have treated parents as intruders and threats.
Imagine a king, living up in the castle, and down below in the village are a bunch of peasants who hate the king. They want to remove the king from the throne and kill him, but they can’t. He’s up on the hill, behind the fortress walls. The peasants can’t get to the king, so what do they do? They burn him in effigy down in the village. That’s what’s happening in our nation. God is in heaven, and our nation has rejected his authority—but they can’t get to him. So, instead they are burning his image down here in the village. They’re destroying manhood and womanhood. They’re redefining the family. And so it is the job of those peasants who are loyal to the king to put his image, his design, his definitions on display.
So, this series will equip you with some tools for parenting, and it will equip you with some spiritual and Biblical ammunition to fight back against a culture that has shaken it’s fist at the Maker of heaven and earth.
This first week will focus on parental duties from a high level, so let’s summarize the text:
The first text we read was Ephesians 6:4. These words, written by the Apostle Paul, are situated within Paul’s larger teaching on the household (husbands, wives, children, parents) He’s explaining God’s design for the family. He gives both a negative and a positive:
• Fathers – this can also be applied to parents.
• Do not “provoke” – exasperate
• Roman world gave fathers virtually unlimited power over children, and even sell them as slaves or command the death penalty.
• We don’t have that power, but the admonition still applies.
• It’s negative – don’t do this. Don’t irritate them towards anger.
• There’s balance here—you must exercise authority, but you aren’t to be a terror to your children.
• “bring up” – lit. “nourish, or bring food to” What is it that nourishes a child?
Discipline – training by rules and regulations enforced by rewards and punishment. Also, nurture—you do this as a mother caring for a baby.
Instruction – also admonition- lit “verbal teaching” it’s the verbal teaching of the Lord. You are to teach them the Word of God.
Parents represent God to their children. Our Heavenly Father is our model for our earthly parenting.
Children will look at how their parents treat them, and believe God relates to them in the same way.
** Portions of the List Above Come from a John MacArthur teaching I Have Found Helpful
In the Ancient Roman world, children were treated like property. They could be bought and sold as slaves. In other words, the implication was total ownership. And Paul says, “Don’t exasperate them, because ultimately they don’t belong to you, the belong to the God who created them, so teach them his ways.”
In our world we are seeing the opposite error. We are seeing the intentional limiting of parental authority and power. Our world is not committing the error of the Romans, that children are the property of their parents. Instead our world is increasingly saying, “Children are the property of the state. We know better than parents what is best for them.”
So, get this: our response is not, “Our children belong to us, and we know what is best for them.” The proper response is, “Our children belong to the God who has created them, and he knows what is best for them. And he has entrusted their care, their education, their nurture to parents.”

Parents, God has given you vast authority over your children, but it isn’t limitless. He says bring them up in the Lord’s instruction, but don’t exasperate them.

So, very quickly—what are some ways parents exasperate children?

• Overprotection. Fence them in. Never trust them. Parents… your goal is to gradually release your children into trusting adulthood.
• Excessive rules/punishment – reasonable limits to your rules and punishments. Kids cannot remember 35 rules. Punishments are not to be cruel and unusual.
• Unrealistic Achievement Goals – Pushing achievement, sports, academia. Don’t use your children to fulfill your dreams.
• Over-indulgence- Giving the child everything he wants.
• Inconsistency and Arbitrariness – Make sure your expectations
• Discouragement: 2 Ways:
> Never give your child a listening ear. Parents, you need to understand why your child is doing what they are doing.
> Never reward them. Never praise or honor them, or incentivize good performance. They’ll lose motivation to do right.
• Favoritism – Jacob/Esau “Why can’t you be like your brother?” Don’t compare your kids against one another.
• Failure to show grace for immaturity. Know the different between a mistake and a sin. When the 4 year old knocks over a glass of tea at the table, that isn’t rebellion… it’s just poor manual dexterity. So, they can’t fold the laundry the way you want it done. Let them goof up a little.

• Physical Abuse

We’ll focus on Paul’s positive instructions to bring children up in the Lord in the final week.

Not all of you parents had the best models. Maybe you had a Father, that exasperate you, or a mother who neglected you. God has now blessed you with houses full of children and don’t feel up to the task. Where do you begin?
• Keep short accounts. Don’t let sins pile up.
• When you provoke your children—confess to them. Repent. Ask for their forgiveness.
• Many children grow up and leave the church, not because their parents sin against them—but because their parents sin against them and never repent. They never model grace.
Parents—you have a perfect heavenly Father—who never provokes his children to wrath. And you have a perfect Savior who bore God’s just wrath against your sin, so that you could become an adopted child of God.

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