"A WORD TO THE FATHER"
"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord"-Ephesians 6:4
One of the greatest responsibilities placed upon a man's shoulders is that of becoming a father. When these little ones come into the world, our first response is joy, mingled with a little fear, for before us lies a lifetime commitment. Every man should consider this responsibility solemnly before he brings a child into this world.
As a father, let me be the first to tell you that I have made a lot of mistakes. In this business, as with any other, we learn as we go. I have heard it said that children do not come with an owner's manual, therefore trial and error is the best we can do. But amidst the advice of the Dr. Spocks, the televisions talks shows, and the trained professionals, I have found a source of accurate information that has proven to be invaluable for the novice I feel so keenly to be. This "owners manual" comes from a father who is perfect; a father who has never made a mistake with any of His children; all wise; all loving; all knowing: "Our Father which art in heaven".
Apparently, the church of Ephesus had fathers among its membership. Paul addresses them personally and lovingly for he knew their children represented the future generation of the church at Ephesus, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
The word "Nurture" carries with it the thought of nurturing a tender young plant. It must have the proper soil, fertilizer and sunlight that it might grow tall and bear fruit. Since everything that it comes in contact with will affect its future health, the t.v. show they watch, the music they hear, and even the friends they choose are all subject unto the father's God given authority. Fathers must be loving and gentle in these areas, but use wisdom and discretion.
The word "Nurture" also means "discipline". While there are many forms of discipline, spanking remains to be one form of Biblical discipline. Modern psychology is telling fathers today that spanking a child is "corporal punishment". These words, in themselves, may cause a father to feel guilty for administering Biblical discipline that God, in His infinite wisdom, has ordained. It is a dark world that breeds a child abuser, but in their zeal to eradicate this evil from our society, many have gone so far as to oppose God and His pattern of loving discipline.
According to God, it takes more love to discipline a child than it does to ignore their misbehavior, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes"- Proverbs 13:24. The comparison is clear: he that hateth and he that loveth. The word betimes means "early": early in the offense and early in their lives. Read Proverbs 13:24,22:15, 23:13,14, 29:15 as well. Loving discipline will not harm a child. It is applied under control, without anger and with an explanation of the offense.....with an 'I love you' attached. As one mother lovingly told her son before she administered the hickory switch to the sitter downer, "I am your mother. I will always love you. But I want others to love you as well." Like salt and sugar in the cookie recipe, proper proportions of love and discipline produce a palatable child.
The word "admonition" means "calling attention to the scriptures". It is not dad's out of date opinion concerning good and evil. This is what God declares in His word. By this method, a father's advice will carry more weight. Therefore, Paul assumes that every father is a reader of God's word. While there is no such thing as a perfect child, when it is all said and done may we be able to say, "I did it God's way." I remember the old Kodak jingle that went something like this, "Where are you going my little one, little one? Where are you going my little one now? Turn around you're 2, turn around you're 4, turn around you're a young man going out of the door". Our little saplings approach the fruit bearing season before we know it. Lord, help us to be better fathers, redeeming the time, for the days are evil.
Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115.
By His Grace,
Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.