Advice to Parents
MONDAY September 4
Advice to Parents
Compare Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21. What motivation does Colossians 3:21 provide for avoiding irritating one’s children?
Sirach, a Jewish document available in Paul’s day, advises fathers about the treatment of their sons: “He who loves his son will whip him often. . . . Pamper a child, and he will terrorize you; play with him, and he will grieve you. . . . Discipline your son and make his yoke heavy, so that you may not be offended by his shamelessness” (Sirach 30:1, 9, 13, NRSV).
Paul’s counsel bears a very different tone. He first addresses a negative command to fathers: “Do not provoke your children to anger,” followed by a positive one, “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, ESV). In Paul’s day, fathers had complete legal power over their children, who were regarded as his property. Fathers had the right to inflict violent punishment, even death, on their children. Indeed, in some respects a father’s power over his children exceeded a master’s authority over his slaves. Paul is not endorsing such power but is boldly clarifying and reshaping family relationships. In the context of a supreme loyalty to Christ, Paul invites Christian fathers to rethink their use of power since children who are provoked to anger will not be well positioned to accept “the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, ESV).
“Fathers and mothers, in the home you are to represent God’s disposition. You are to require obedience, not with a storm of words, but in a kind, loving manner. . . .
“Be pleasant in the home. Restrain every word that would arouse unholy temper. ‘Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,’ is a divine injunction. . . .
“No license is given in God’s Word for parental severity or oppression or for filial disobedience. The law of God, in the home life and in the government of nations, flows from a heart of infinite love.”—Ellen G. White, Child Guidance, p. 259.