Fathers, do not exasperate your children;
instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Families are to be educational centers for children to learn about God's grace from their parents. From their parents, children are to learn about the salvation of God's grace which will save them from the condemnation of the law. Specifically, fathers are to be to the first ones in the family to teach the children about God's grace.
In Ephesians 6:4, the instruction of the Lord is the revelation of grace by the ascended Jesus to Paul that he has instructed the families of the church about in Ephesians 1-5. Paul now encourages fathers to train, or consistently model before his children everything he instructed the church families about. Fathers would train their children in grace by consistently modeling before them the unearned blessings and unconditional love their heavenly Father had so freely given them in Christ. Through humility, he would consistently model before his children mercy, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness, thus leading to peace and unity within the family. In addition to modeling before his children the life of grace, he would demonstrate the Father's grace freely given to us in Christ by making his children the object of his grace. A father would consistently model before his children Christ's love and care by loving and caring for his wife the way Christ loved and cared for his family, the church. Only after training his children in grace by consistently modeling grace before them, would he then instruct his children in grace.
Once children are recipients of their father's grace, then the father can be a teacher of that grace to his children. The father would instruct his children about the glorious riches of God's grace that have been freely given to us in Jesus. He would teach his children about Ephesians 1-5.
By modeling grace before his children, and by demonstrating grace to his children, then the father would not exasperate his children, meaning the father would not cause his children to get down, give up, and go away because of being overly hard on his children. Instead, his children would be drawn to him because of the overflowing grace of God coming through the father to his children. Therefore, creating a home of grace.
By creating a home of grace through consistently modeling the Lord's grace before his children, and then teaching his children about the Lord's grace, fathers make the teaching about our Lord and Savior attractive to their children (Titus 2:10), which then helps lead them to salvation by grace (Titus 2:11). Once experiencing the salvation of grace, then children experience the transformation of grace (Titus 2:11-14).
So often in Christian homes, we want to have perfectly obedient children, and when they are not perfect, we get mad at our children. They become the objects of our anger, punishment, and wrath. Yet, it is actually the imperfection of our children that create their need for grace. It was our imperfections that made us the objects of God's grace that he so lovingly, kindly, compassionately, and mercifully lavished upon us. Now, as fathers and mothers, we demonstrate the same grace to our children that our Father has demonstrated to us. In a home of grace, our children become the objects of our grace, rather than our wrath.
There is a popular parenting curriculum used by many churches today called Growing Kid's God's Way. It focuses on getting children to behave right. Please know Focus on the Family does not recommend this curriculum because it can be harsh and abusive, causing the exasperation of children. They may behave correctly externally, but much damaged can be done in the heart of the child internally
If we truly want to grow kid's God's way, then know that God's way to grow children is the way of grace, raising them by consistently modeling before them his grace, demonstrating his grace to them, and then by teaching them about his grace.
Some will ask me, "So, in raising kids with grace, do we not discipline our children?" The answer is yes, we do discipline our children. But we do it by having first created a home of grace, an environment of grace in our homes. We discipline with an attitude of patience, kindness, compassion, mercy, and gentleness, rather than impatience, anger, harshness, and rudeness.
Something I did to teach my children about grace from an early age was to periodically take their punishment for them, and then bless them by giving something to them that they did not earn or deserve. I would take upon myself what they deserved, and then give them what they didn't earn. Isn't that would Jesus did for us in grace? He took the punishment we deserved for our sins, and in exchange he blessed us with the gifts of forgiveness, righteousness, sonship, and eternal life. How could we do anything less for our children?
So let's follow the instruction Paul gave to the church in Ephesus. Let's raise our children in the grace of the Lord by consistently modeling grace before them, demonstrating grace to them, and teaching them about our Father's glorious grace freely given to us in Christ Jesus.
Let's create homes of grace!
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