In the past 25 years, the number of Dads present at their children’s births has risen from 27% to more than 90% today. More than 75% of men say they would trade rapid career advancement for more time with their families.
Joe Maxwell, writing on the web site called ibelieve.com, summarizes the state of fatherhood in an article entitled, “Dads: The New Endangered Species.” Here’s what he says: “In other words, guys really want to be good dads more than ever, but they aren’t changing much. When the good news is combined with the bad, it seems that fatherhood in the United States is poised for either a great awakening or a gory collapse.”
Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
In the first century, when this passage was written, families were presided over by fathers who could do whatever they pleased in their homes.Rome had a law called patria potestas, which meant “the father’s power.” Men who were Roman citizens were given absolute property rights over their families. By law, the children and the wife were regarded as the patriarch’s personal chattel, and he could do with them what he wished. A displeased father could disown his children, sell them into slavery, or even kill them if he wished.
The first duty is negative – we are told to “not exasperate our children.” This is a caution or warning designed to put us on guard against stirring up anger in our kids either deliberately or through careless provocations. I think Paul started with a negative command because he knows that fathers, who are fallen creatures, are prone to abuse their authority in the home.
The Greek word translated “exasperate” means “to rouse to anger” or “to enrage.” The present tense of the verb indicates that we are to stop doing something that is common and continuous. This warning is calling us dads to avoid anything that will eventually break the sprit of our children.
Notice that we are to “bring them up.” We are to bring our children up because they will not get there by themselves. Dads, we are to take an active role in shaping the character of our children.
What strikes me here is that as a dad I was not called to not just raise two daughters; I’m was called to raise two adults. I’m not just a daddy of daughters; I was charged with providing a nurturing environment so that they grow up to become women of God. The phrase, “bring them up” also carries with it the idea of “tutoring” and “instructing.”
The next thing Paul challenges us to do is to provide discipline for our kids. This word is translated “admonition” in some versions of your Bible carries with it the idea of a rebuke or a warning. Literally, it means to “place before the mind.”
Proverbs 13:24, I like the way the New Living Translation puts it: “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.”
You may hesitate to discipline because you think that you’re being unkind to your kids. Actually, when you don’t discipline, you’re being more than unkind – you’re not loving them. If we love our kids, then we must admonish, rebuke, and discipline them. Read carefully. I’m not advocating that you beat your kids. What I am saying is this: children need to be disciplined by their dads. Our kids not only need correction, they want it. If we don’t give it to them, we’re failing them and may cause them to fall away from the faith.