PASTORS' DAILY DEVOTIONAL
Love, not LikeTim Savage
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
As my children get older (middle school and high school) my wife and I are constantly tested with new parental lessons each and every day. It may be just selective memory or Alzheimer’s, but our past responsibilities seemed easier than dealing with kids turning in to teenagers. Mardi and I often look at each other and ask, “Who are these little people?” because they are nothing like the friendly, happy little ones that we used to live with! Ephesians 6:4 has all of the answers. This instruction from Paul tells us all we need to know as parents, but the scriptures must be divinely inspired because Paul was never a parent. While this verse is certainly the goal, it is not easy. On the one hand we are not to provoke our children to anger, but on the other we are to discipline and instruct in the way of the Lord. Kids don’t like to be disciplined. It makes them angry. When they’re angry, they refuse to be reasonable. It’s a vicious cycle that sometimes ends in someone being sent to their room or at least the loss of the all-important privilege of television. So how do I correct and discipline without making them angry? Truth be told, we try to discipline whether it makes the kids mad or not. Their temporary state of anger isn’t my highest priority. Unfortunately, nowadays, the kids find many reasons to be mad at either mom or dad or both. Now, we don’t try to make them mad, but they are still testing all the boundaries and they aren’t ready to cross some of them. Our job is to parent, not friend. Now, the goal is to be both, but often we must choose; that’s hard because we all want to be liked, but it’s more important that we are loved. Love is more eternal, it’s here for the long haul, it’s based on respect. Like is more fleeting, here today, gone tomorrow; it’s based on immediate desires, not on what’s best in the future.
Recently, I’ve been blessed by trying to provide guidance without provoking anger. I was in an increasingly emotional discussion with one of the kids, my immediate reaction was to force their behavior to my will because I felt I was right. In the midst of the confrontation I was called away to run an errand which provided me some quiet time to ask God for His guidance. The result was the direction of today’s verse: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. I know I started by saying that it wasn’t easy to achieve the goal of this verse and that Paul was never a parent, but the cool reality of God is that it is possible and it should be our goal. I won’t put their immediate happiness above discipline, but I will try to achieve both. God is a parent; He’s our parent and we are often that child who needs discipline. This lesson isn’t just for me as a parent, but also for me as His child. I need to be slower to anger, more reasonable when disciplined and I must understand that His direction for me is based on love, not like.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this rich lesson this morning. Please grant me the ability to parent my children with Your love and understanding. Help me to understand that I must be a parent first and friend second. May I be a better child to You. In Jesus name, Amen