Last Sunday I had the joy of preaching to the congregation at Harvest Bible Chapel in Sacramento. Pastor Scott asked me to take on Ephesians 6:1-4, one of the most concise statements in all the Scriptures about parents and children.
The command is given there: Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath.
The Lord doesn't define exactly how a father might do that. I think He leaves it up to us to consider the possible ways children might experience injustice at the hands of their parents. I've seen a few such injustices in my short life, and I've seen the bitter kids they have produced. Here are my observations—the ways I believe parents might provoke their children to wrath.
1. Living a legalistic rather than a grace-filled life
2. Being overbearing and arrogantly authoritative
3. Focusing on external appearances rather than godly character
4. Maintaining inconsistent rules
5. Applying discipline inconsistently
6. Having a double standard between children
7. Failing to balance discipline with affection
8. Failing to instruct when punishing
9. Being impossible to please
10. Withholding praise when praise is due
11. Being insulting or degrading
12. Focusing on failure rather than edifying/building up
13. Being personally graceless
14. Not modeling forgiveness
15. Not asking for forgiveness from your children
16. Demonstrating lovelessness through permissiveness
17. Getting your way through manipulation
18. Modeling selfishness rather than humility
19. Refusing to grant legitimate freedoms
20. Giving freedom away before it is earned
21. Letting your child drop music lessons after only one year
I'm sure this list is not exhaustive, but it reminds me of my responsibility before God and affects the way I deal with all children. God could have said, “Teachers, provoke not thy students to wrath!” and it would have been equally appropriate!