Thursday, August 3, 2017

Parenting by the Sixes

I suspect that at some point every Christian parenting seminar, magazine, or discussion eventually finds a way to bring up the opening verses of Ephesians 6:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
[Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV]
And to be sure, this is not a bad thing.  The author and apostle Paul does a good — if concise — job here of addressing both "sides" of the oft-opposed factions within a household.

But I was surprised and enlightened this morning when I found conviction and instruction for the parent as I read the opening of not Ephesians 6, but Galatians 6:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  [Galatians 6:1-3 ESV]
I can't tell you how many times I've admonished my children for some behavioral shortcoming only to find myself succumbing a similar (or identical!) issue shortly thereafter.  So while Paul may not in this second passage be addressing parents and children specifically, I think the prescription applies nonetheless.  As a father, my supreme aim for my children is that they increase in holiness.  But I need to offer guidance to that effect in love, with gentleness, and in all humility as I openly confess my own failures, my insufficiency, and my outright dependency on the grace of God as He works out holiness in me.