Ephesians 6:1-4

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 3, 2006


Having kids changes everything. The following was written by a mom …


Before children: I was thankful to have been born the USA, the most powerful free democracy in the world.

After Children: I am thankful for Velcro tennis shoes. As well as saving valuable time, now I can hear the sound of my son taking off his shoes --which gives me three extra seconds to activate the safety locks on the back seat windows right before he hurls them out of the car and onto the freeway.

Before children: I was thankful for holistic medicine and natural herbs.

After children: I am thankful for pediatric cough syrup guaranteed to "cause drowsiness" in young children.

Before children: I was thankful for a warm, cozy home to share with my loved ones.

After children: I am thankful for the lock on the bathroom door.

Before children: I was thankful for material objects like custom furniture, a nice car and trendy clothes.

After children: I am thankful when the baby spits up and misses my good shoes.

:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Children – even though we’re all “children”, I do not believe this command to obey is aimed at adults, but children.

obeyhupakouo – to listen, to harken to a command; to obey

Parents often complain that their kids just don’t “listen” to them.

in the Lord – there are times when a parent asks their child to do something that is simply not right. I don’t think God is asking you to run drugs for your drug-dealing dad.

rightdikaios – observing divine laws; It’s not just what seems right to me, but what is right before God.

:2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: :3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."

Honortimao fix the value; honor, revere

Paul is quoting from the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12), and is noting that this is the only one of the commandments that comes with a built-in promise - if you do this you will live longer.

Perhaps it’s simply because the attitude of “valuing” others is a healthy one – you’ll go far in life if you learn to respect and honor others, and it starts by learning it at home.

Parents – don’t hesitate to enforce respect at home, especially when your children are younger. Sometimes a parent will feel that they’re only being selfish by insisting on a child’s respect. But it’s not selfish, it’s vital. If your child will learn the importance of respecting you, they will have a much easier time when they get to school and need to respect their teacher. They will go much farther when they become employed if they’ve learned to respect those in authority over them (like their boss).

What if my father or mother isn’t very “honorable”?

I remember a gal that we used to minister to years ago, a gal who grew up being abused by her father. She was abused from the age of eight until she was sixteen and she ran away. She not only hated and feared her father, but resented her mom for allowing it to happen.

I’ve known families where the mom has abandoned the husband and left him to raise the kids alone. I wonder what some of those kids will think of their mom when they grow up.

I like the advice that one person was given – “You ought to honor your parents for having brought you into the world, but you don’t have to approve the choices they’ve made in life”.

The gal that was abused for so long learned to pray and ask God to help her get to the place where she could forgive her father. And though it took a couple of years, there came a day when she confronted him and told him that she forgave him. I remember that day as one where she was set free from a bondage of fear and bitterness.

:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Does this mean that I can’t do anything that makes my kids angry?

No. There are going to be things you’ll do or say that are going to make your kids angry. The idea here is not that your kids will never be upset or disappointed, but that you don’t provoke them to the wrong kind of anger, such as when they are humiliated by a parent. We’ll talk more about this in a minute.

trainingpaideia – (from pais, “child”) the whole training and education of children. This is a word that is often translated “chasten” (Heb. 12:5-11), as in “spanking”, but it deals with more than just physical discipline.

admonitionnouthesia (“the mind” + “to place”) This is a word that deals with the training of the mind, instruction.

Ten Ingredients of Good Discipline

We’re going to talk the rest of the morning about raising kids, but I have to tell you that I certainly don’t feel like I have all the answers.

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680) said, “Before I was married I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.”

I have three sons and I think I can relate to that. So the best that I can do is to take us to the Scriptures to begin to see what instructions that God gives us as parents.

I’m also concerned for you who aren’t parents who will want to tune me out.

But in truth, we all play roles in the lives of the many children around us, whether we’re parents or not.  And as Martin Luther once said, “People who do not like children are swine, dunces, and blockheads, not worthy to be called men and women, because they despise the blessing of God, the Creator and Author of marriage.”

Keep in mind the impact that Jesus had on children, and He didn’t have any physical children of His own.  But He still loved them and took time for them.

(Prov 19:18 NASB) Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.

Chinese Proverb – “Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.”

Dr. Dobson – “The parent must convince himself that discipline is not something he does to the child; it is something he does for the child.”

1. No anger

I think that one of the most difficult hindrances to healthy discipline is our own anger.


In a department store a young husband was minding the baby while his wife was making a purchase. The infant was wailing, but the father seemed quite unperturbed as he quietly said, "Easy now, Albert," he murmured, "keep your temper." A woman passing by remarked, "I must congratulate you! You seem to know just how to speak to a baby." "Baby nothing!" came the reply. "MY name is Albert!"

Though there are many ways to “provoke” our children to anger, I believe the worst is when we discipline them in anger.

(Prov 15:1 NKJV)  A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

When our discipline comes out of anger instead of love, we end up provoking anger in our kids and driving our children away.

Another result of disciplining from anger is that we end up encouraging our children to lie to us.

Alfred Adler (1870–1937) wrote, “Whenever a child lies, you will always find a severe parent. A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt to be dangerous.”

It’s tough when you catch your child in a lie. But one of the things you need to ask yourself is, “Have I been too strict?” This doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with the situation, but be careful that you don’t drive your child into lying because of too harsh of a response.

2. Action

One of the greatest problems we have in parenting is a tendency to do nothing. When you don’t do anything, it only causes confusion and makes things worse. It can almost seem as if the child were the one in control.

The Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) said, “The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.”

We see this several times in the Bible where a parent was aware of the sin of their children, but chose to do nothing.

When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been raped (Gen.34), he didn’t do anything about it. So his sons decided in anger that they would take matters into their own hand, and ended up massacring an entire city in revenge.

When David heard that his son Amnon had raped his own half-sister Tamar (2Sam.13), David at least got angry. But he didn’t do anything about it. As a result, Tamar’s brother, Absalom, plotted and killed Amnon in revenge. I’d call that “provoking to anger”.

Don’t confuse “loving” your child with not disciplining him. Take action.

Our attitude should be:

"I love you too much to let you behave like that." (James C. Dobson)

(Prov 13:24 NLT) 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.

I used to tell my boys something like, “I love you and I don’t want you growing up to be a boy who always hurts others and no one likes. That’s why you can’t keep acting like this.”

3. Instruction

When God disciplines us, it’s for the purpose of teaching us something, that’s the idea of “admonition” (Eph. 6:4).

The goal of discipline is instruction, not punishment.

Instruction often requires words. But sometimes the things we say don’t instruct:

1. Do as I say, not as I do.

2. I'm the adult. I'm right.

3. Because I said so, that's why.

4. You want to be what?

5. This room's a pig sty.

6. Can't you do anything right?

7. Where did you find him?

8. You did what?

9. Do you mind if we talk about something else?

10. I'm kind of busy right now. Could you come back later?

-- Jay Kesler, Ten Mistakes Parents Make with Teenagers And How To Avoid Them, Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, Inc., 1988.

How does instruction work?

With young children:

1. Take time to clearly tell the child what was wrong with their behavior. Sometimes it may be appropriate to use a Bible verse that fits the situation. Don’t just spank them with a paddle and think you’re done.
2. See if the child can tell you back what was wrong with their behavior. I don’t want to be one of those parents whose children don’t have a clue why they’re being punished. I know I’m not complete in my discipline if my children can’t tell me why they’re being disciplined.

With older children:

You need to talk about why you are concerned. Have you thought about the rule you’ve set or the behavior you want changed? Are you just upset because they’ve inconvenienced you? Or are you really concerned for them? Is your set of rules based on some whim or something that is important? Do you have a picture in your head as to what kind of adult you are guiding your child to become? I’m not talking about what career you’ve picked out for them, but what character qualities from the Scriptures you want to develop in your young man or woman.

4.  Spanking

This is pretty controversial today. I know that some of you will choose not to spank, but the Bible seems to recommend it.

(Prov 22:15 NASB) Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

Let me share some things I’ve learned …

a. Age – How old should a child be when you start spanking? Old enough to understand what’s going on and why they’re being spanked. If they’re not old enough to tell you why they’re being spanked, they’re not old enough to be spanked. A three month old baby doesn’t know why it’s being spanked. A two year old has the capacity to understand.

b. Paddles – A paddle is better than the hand. The Bible talks about the “rod”. Some have suggested that if you spank with your hand too often, your hand becomes something your child is afraid of. If you use a paddle, keep it in a special “paddle place”, and out of sight. It shouldn’t be out in the open like some kind of constant threat. Often all we needed to do was to start walking towards the “paddle place” for a child to get the message.

c. Anger – Never use the paddle or spank when you’re angry. If you can’t control your anger, don’t spank your child until you calm down. Try listening to yourself. Are you yelling? Then slow down. Never open the door to abuse. Never hit anything but their bottom with a paddle. The paddle is a tool for instruction, not a weapon for punishment.

d. How often should a child be spanked? There have been times when we’ve spanked a child once or twice in a week, but we found that the more consistent we were in discipline, the less spanking they needed. When a child is clear where the lines are, they tend to cross them less often. My boys are now teenagers and I haven’t spanked them for years.

5.  Beyond spanking

Discipline is more than spanking.  Some kids don’t respond to spanking.  One of the toughest challenges to parents is finding what is appropriate and what works.

There are other negative punishments like “time outs” or taking away privileges. In the Old Testament, there was more than one type of punishment for crime. As your child gets older, you need to be a whole lot smarter than just spanking.

Sometimes our children can learn a whole lot more if we focus on giving them encouragement for doing good things instead of always focusing on the negative.


Rod Cooper said this, ("The Kiss of Encouragement," Preaching Today, Tape No. 141.) “I'm strong on this quality [of encouragement] because someone got excited about my progress. I almost flunked the first grade. I was a terrible reader. We had three reading groups in my school. The highest group happened to be the Owls. They were in the trees above everybody else. The next group happened to be the Giraffes--head and shoulders above the rest of us. I was in the third group, the Humpty Dumptys. We were on the wall, off the wall, in the wall, and out! We just couldn't get it together. We struggled. My mom saw me coming home discouraged and down every day.”

“She started reading with me every night. I came home one day with a C on one of my papers, and I gave it to her. She smiled and started to cry. She said, "Oh, Rodney, I'm so proud of you." She made my favorite dinner and let me stay up late. I'm thinking, Gee, if this is what a C will do! What do you think that did for me? It spurred me on to want to do the best. That's what encouragement does. It makes you want to move on when you feel like quitting.”

“I didn't make it to the Owls. I got to the Giraffes, and I got out of first grade. Here I am. Today my mom introduces me, "This is my son." She'll put her arm around me, "This is my son, Doctor Cooper." Then she'll look at me and wink just to remind me from where I've come.”

6. Pick your battles

I think that as your kids get older, you need to be careful about what you ought to be “fighting” over.


Ruth Graham (in Homemade, Vol. 16, No. 11, November 1992) writes, “With our five children I had to decide what was a moral issue and what was non-moral and simply a part of growing up. Tracking mud into the house is a no-no, but it’s not a moral issue. Children tend to be noisy when they’re playing, and you feel like saying, “Hush!”—but it’s not a moral issue. However, I would call disobedience a moral issue. I would call respect a moral issue. Of course, stealing and lying are moral issues.”

Look at it this way – you’ve got $100 to spend on what’s important for your kid. Don’t spend it all in one place. Don’t spend the $100 of influence you have on the things that aren’t all that important.

7. End embarrassment

There’s an interesting passage about corporal punishment in Israel:

(Deu 25:3 NLT) …No more than forty lashes may ever be given; more than forty lashes would publicly humiliate your neighbor.

I think that sometimes we get so intent on disciplining our kids that we don’t realize we’re humiliating them before others at the same time.

When a serious thing occurs, take the child away from the public view. If you’re in a restaurant, take them to the car. If they’re at church with their friends, wait until they get home. If you’re at the dinner table, take them into their bedroom. Others don’t need to see what happens. This can’t always be done, but I think it needs to be a part of our discipline.

8. Apologies and restitution

If another person was harmed, teach your child to apologize. If something was broken or stolen, it needs to be fixed or returned.

Teach your kids to get along with each other. When our boys were little, we would not allow them to stay angry with each other. We required the offender to apologize and we would require the victim to say “I forgive you”.

(Eph 4:31-32 NLT) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. {32} Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Parents – if you’ve made mistakes in disciplining your children, you should apologize as well. If you’ve disciplined in anger, you need to apologize.

9. Sometimes grace is enough

Occasionally, a child will do something that is really, really bad, and amazingly enough, they will also be struck with the fact that they did a horrible thing.

I used to take the paddle and take the child into their bedroom, lay the paddle gently against their bottom and say, “Today you get grace”.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea that from time to time we not only teach our children the consequences of their bad behavior, but we also teach them grace. Instruct them what it’s like to get what you don’t deserve.  God does this all the time for us.

10. Love & Forgiveness

Try to never allow it to end on a sour note. Your child needs to know that you are disciplining out of love, not out of anger.

Whether we realize it or not, when God disciplines us, He ALWAYS disciplines us because of His love for us.

(Rev 3:19 NLT) I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love.

Our kids need to know that we’re going to forgive them, and that we do forgive them.


Ernest Hemingway wrote a story about a father and his teenage son. In the story, the relationship had become somewhat strained, and the teenage son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of that rebellious son.

Finally, in Madrid, Spain, in a last desperate attempt to find the boy, the father put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad read: "Dear Paco, Meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father." The next day, in front of the newspaper office, eight hundred Pacos showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness. They were all seeking the love of their father.

-- George Munzing, "Living a Life of Integrity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 32.

You have a Father in heaven who offers you forgiveness as well. Are you looking for His forgiveness?