“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
In our Sunday morning Bible Study we have been going through the book of Ephesians, applying its principles and instructions into our marriages and families, as well as into our personal lives. These past two Sundays we have spent time in one verse from Ephesians, 6:4.
Verse 4 instructs us not to “provoke or exasperate your children.” The Greek word for provoke is parorgizo. This simply means to provoke to wrath or to exasperate another. Both wrath and exasperate come from the root word anger. It would not take too much of an in-depth study of human and family behavior to shed some basic insight on how we might exasperate our children and provoke them to anger. We so often will see this as an extreme outburst towards our children, an uncontrolled momentary burst of anger, then it’s done. However, as we truly step back and evaluate our parenting, we may just see this picture of “provoking and exasperating” in the minutia of our everyday parenting. The following examples will give us a good starting point for understanding the command that Paul shares with us in verse 4. This is not an end all list, nor is it meant to “guilt” you as a parent or grandparent. Take time in prayer and reflect on the following list, take time to ask God to reveal to you as to which of those 8, or maybe you have another one, you are in the habit of doing towards your children. Ask God to help you stop in that behavior/action and then move towards reconciliation with your children and then begin a new path of Biblical discipline and instruction in the Lord.
1. Overprotecting Children: Parents who do everything for their children and do not let them gain any degree of independence or self-determination.
2. Over Disciplining Children: Parents who overly restrict where children can go and what they can do, who never trust them to do things on their own, and who continually question their judgment. Certainly, a proper amount of this is necessary. We are talking about overdoing it.
3. Expecting More Than The Child Can Ever Perform: Perfectionistic parents for whom the child’s performance is never good enough.
4. Expecting Less of Them Than They Can Perform: Parents who discourage the child’s decisions and dreams—never approving, affirming, or encouraging.
5. Failing to Sacrifice for Their Children: Parents who make the children feel as though they are an intrusion and burden.
6. Verbal and/or Physical Abuse: Parents who abuse their children, either by actions, negligence, words, or attitudes.
7. Legalism: Parents who use the Bible, religion, or God to browbeat the children into behavior that is not required by scriptural teachings.
8. Imbalance: Parents who fail to balance affirmation and discipline, who affirm without discipline, who discipline without affirmation, or who do neither.
These eight things will provoke a child to anger; they will exasperate a child, and we would be well-advised to avoid them.