Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I remember the look well. I had said something to one of our kids that was insensitive and rooted in anger. I knew better, but the argument had exhausted my patience and I answered with a statement I would never have let our kids say. My very next words were, “Please forgive me; that was wrong.” The look from our child was one of astonishment! Instead of being told, by me, to ask for forgiveness our child was being asked to forgive me. For the first time our child began to put together the idea that we all–parents, children, family, and friends–receive and give the forgiveness won for us by Christ on the Cross.
The Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” might seem to come from the top down in its application, and to some extent it does. It is the head of the household’s responsibility, given by God, to teach this to the old Adam in our children. It is also the head of the household’s responsibility to hear and heed what Paul writes: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Dr. Luther is very clear. At the beginning of each of theSix Chief Parts is this directive: “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.” Your parents should be the primary faith teachers for you. Let’s face it: Not all parents do a good job of this. Sometimes our anger gets the best of us. Sometimes when the hard questions are asked, we don’t have a good answer, and we get defensive. Sometimes we simply fail in this part of our vocation.
You are forgiven! Remember that. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,” is a clear reminder that we need the forgiveness that freely and lovingly flowed from Jesus’ hands and head. The rest of that verse, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” is Gospel for parents and children.
Even though we sin and fall short of the glory of God, we are not disqualified from teaching our children. We are forgiven completely by Jesus. Even though we are not perfect teachers, the Holy Spirit continues to equip us.
Our children learn by what we teach and what we model. We receive forgiveness and we give forgiveness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Oh, blest that house; it prospers well. In peace and joy the parents dwell, And in their children’s lives is shown How richly God can bless His own. (“Oh, Blest the House” LSB 862, st.4)
–Rev. Randy Sturzenbecher is pastor of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church, Black Hawk, SD. He is also the vice president of Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch