Training and Admonition. Paul admonishes fathers to bring up their children in the training of the Lord.
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4, NKJV
Before Paul leaves the discussion of family relationships, he makes one more comment directed to fathers. This is one short verse, but it is a verse with great depth, and like the verses preceding it, is not an easy one to obey.
Please note that Paul's address is to fathers. This does not negate the fact that mothers can be equally invoked as well, but it does show that, because fathers represent the head of the family before God, the responsibility for these things lies primarily on their shoulders. Just what does Paul command?
First, "Do not provoke your children to wrath." This seemingly innocuous command is, in actuality, not an easy command to obey. In the 18 or 20 something years that our children spend with us, there are many times we are tempted to do just what Paul commands us not to do. Let us learn from the gentle spirit of Christ. Christ, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and righteous and Holy Son of God does not deal severely with us. How gentle and long-suffering are His ways toward us, His often rebellious children? It is certainly not natural for us to be gentle with our children 100% of the time! Let us look to Christ to give us patient and forbearing attitudes toward our children (yes, even in their teen years.)
Second, Paul admonishes fathers to bring up their children in the training of the Lord. We are often guilty of thinking that we are completing this task if we take our children to church and Sunday School and especially if we put them in Christian schools. Our children need the training of their fathers as well as their mothers in the things of the Lord. If fathers are not involved in that spiritual training they are inadvertently telling their children that spiritual things are for women and children. By the grace of God, take the time, fathers, to teach your children the truths of the Bible, read the Bible to them, and let them hear you pray.
Thirdly, Paul says, "Bring them up in the ... admonition of the Lord." Just what does that mean, and how is that different than training our children in the Lord? Training involves teaching spiritual truths to our children. Admonition, as defined by Webster, has two meanings: 1. Gentle or friendly reproof, and 2. Council or warning against fault or oversight. By this, we understand that admonition goes beyond simple teaching. We note in God's Word that God often gave admonition to His people. In other words, He not only taught them to be obedient to His Word, but He also warned them of the consequences of their disobedience.
Let us teach our children from an early age to love and obey the Lord our God. Let us also teach them to fear Him--show respect to Him and understand the consequences that disobedience brings. Let us also teach them that when they obey their parents, they are obeying the Lord as well. Equally, when they disobey their parents, they are disobeying the Lord, which is far more serious.
One of the greatest challenges we face, as Christian parents, is to teach our children to have a relationship with Christ and to seek to love and obey Him, who sees them at all times, even when their parents are absent.
It is much easier to write these things than to actually do them. As a parent of six children, who are now all grown, I must say that I often failed miserably. My advice to parents is to pray, pray, and pray for your children and never give up. If we do not pray for our children, who will? Even if they, as adults, are not following the Lord, keep bringing them up to the Lord. We have a God who answers prayer! Your prayers for your children are more powerful than any persuasive arguments you might bring to them for following the Lord.
By God's grace may we bring our children up in the training and admonition of the Lord!