The Holy Spirit instructs you to teach the person of Jesus to your children. One reason our children turn from the church and our parental instruction is that we teach them about Christ and Christianity without teaching them to learn, to know, the person Jesus Christ.
Look closely at Ephesians 6:4:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers are commanded to not provoke their children to anger. This rules out severe discipline, harsh or arbitrary demands, abuse of authority, constant nagging, condemnation, and humiliation. Children are to be treated with respect and are not to be manipulated, exploited or crushed.
The positive admonition is to bring your children up in the Lord with his discipline and instruction. It is important to grasp from the context of Ephesians what doing things in the Lord means, e.g., in verse 1 and now verse 4 of chapter 6. For Paul, this is about teaching the person of Jesus to your children. He is referencing back to his instruction in Ephesians 4:20 where he says:
But that is not the way you learned Christ!
For Paul, doing things in the Lord means pursuing the person of Christ in all you do. This means not only teaching about Christ, but teaching them the person of Christ!
This must not be missed! If you are not teaching the person of Christ to your children, you will provoke them to anger. It’s vital that you understand that the Holy Spirit intends for you to lead your children to learn the person of Christ as the cornerstone of your parenting.
There is one more important element of the text that must be brought out to fully grasp the Holy Spirit’s intent. The word for “rearing” or “bring them up” in verse 4 is the same word used in Ephesians 5:29 to teach how Christ nourishes the church. In light of what Paul has taught in Ephesians the passage can be understood to say:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but rather nourish them with the person of Christ.
This puts parenting in a vibrant light. This is a game changer. The Holy Spirit wants you to teach your children to learn Jesus. He is all that matters in life. He is life itself. As Christ nourishes His church, you are to nourish your children by teaching Christ to them.
Christ is kind, compassionate, gentle, humble, and refreshes those that come to him. His example is one of gentleness and pleasant words. This is not some lofty, optional goal for extra credit. This is the most fundamental reality of your parenting. This is the where Israel failed in the discipline of their children. Judges 2:10 says their children grew up not knowing the Lord.
Ask your Heavenly Father for the courage and faith that will nourish your children with the person of Jesus.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.