Parenting is a joy. My son and I were driving down the street the other day and he says to me, “Daddy, what if under the road was a land of dinosaurs? What if we were driving then dinosaurs came out the ground and tried to eat us? That would be pretty cool.” Well, that would be pretty cool buddy. Parenting is a joy. You never know what children are going to say.
Although parenting is a joy, parenting is also extremely hard. I desperately want to be a good father. One of the greatest joys and passions in my life is my children. I love my children. I love their laughter. I love their personalities. I love to watch them grow. I love to pick them up when they cry. I love that God made me a father. It is one of the greatest joys in my life. But it also is one of the greatest responsibilities that I imagine. God has entrusted me with Elizabeth, John David and Olivia. It is my responsibility to steward and shepherd their lives. It is a great and awesome task. The more that I read the Bible and study fatherhood, the more awestruck I am on how great this task of parenting truly is; it is huge. I pray today that I will give a sense of how great the task of parenting truly is and encourage you to trust God and his Word in how you raise your children.
We are continuing our series in how we can make Jesus supreme in our lives by focusing today on the family. Paul writes in Colossians 1:18 that Jesus, “is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Jesus should be supreme in our home, and more specifically Jesus should be supreme in the relationship between parents and their children. This morning we are going to look at how we can let Jesus be supreme in our Home. First, we let Jesus be Supreme in our Home when Children Obey their parents.
We let Jesus be Supreme in our Home when Children Obey Their Parents
Look at the verse 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Sometimes the Bible makes things so clear, doesn’t it? Children must obey their parents in everything. First, it is important to note that children were being addressed directly. Children were hearing this letter being read in the gathering of the church. The children were present. But also note that having children told to obey their parents implies that children were able to obey their parents. God gives children a very high standard. We must call our children to a high standard as well.
Remember this commands are given to Christian households. Look back to Colossians 2:5-6, “6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Paul is addressing Christians, those who have received Jesus Christ as Lords. This implies that children can be saved. This is crucial for parents. In are parenting, we must teach our children the good news of Jesus Christ. As we teach our children to obey, we are well aware of their propensity to disobey. The reason kids disobey is because they are sinners. And when they disobey our children are learning their inability to keep the law. Their disobedience should expose their sin and feel the weight of that sin. But when they sin, we must then explain them that sin separates them from God, but God knew we were not able to keep the law so he sent his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus perfectly obeyed His Father. He even obeyed his Father to death. Then God raised Jesus from the dead. So if anyone puts their trust in Jesus as their Savior, then they will be saved. Jesus died to bring us back to God. God gives our kids the ability to obey when he saves them by the Holy Spirit. So we need to teach our kids the gospel and pray that they will receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
The reason that God requires obedience from children is that obedience brings blessing. In the parallel passage in Ephesians 6, Paul fleshes this out a little more. Ephesians 6:1-4:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In Ephesians Paul quotes the Ten Commandments, “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise) and what is that promise: that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.
Obedience Brings Blessing
Obedience brings blessing to the child.
Children are blessed when they obey their parents. God loves us and his commands are for our good. Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right and it is for your good. I tell my kids to obey because I want them to be happy.
Not only does obedience brings blessing to the child, but obedience brings blessings to the parents. Listen to these Proverbs:
10:1 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.
15:20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother
23:15-1615 My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.16 My inmost being[d] will exult when your lips speak what is right.
This is only a sampling. There are many other verses in Proverbs that show how parents are blessed by their child’s obedience. When my children are struggling with obedience, I bring them aside and I ask, “Do you want to make your Daddy happy? The Bible says, “A wise son makes a happy Daddy.” Obedience brings blessings to parents.
Obedience also brings blessings to society.
We did not live lives of isolation. Our actions or inactions always affect other people. We live in community. We all know this, but as a culture we largely forget that how we raise our children affects the larger world. Listen to 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
One of the reasons that times of difficult will come is children are disobedient to their parents. Child disobedience is grouped with some awful things which should give us awareness to how God views disobedience to parents. Romans 1 has a similar list of those who are full of evil saying, “They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” It should jar us that those who are disobedient to parents are grouped in the same sentence with haters of God. God takes disobedience serious. So when children obey their parents our world and community will be blessed.
Obedience also brings blessing to God.
Look at end of verse 20, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Obedience pleases the Lord. We should teach our kids to obey because it brings joy to the one who made them. Obedience blesses our God.
Obedience is important. It brings blessing to the child, to parents, to society and to God. So how do we bring about obedience? Obedience requires discipline and instruction. Ephesians 6:4, “ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We must
bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. So we cannot allow disobedience, but we must discipline our children. Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” Discipline is not about changing our children’s behavior; discipline is about driving foolishness from their heart that they may know God. Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Some parents worry that if they discipline their child, they will ruin them, but God says the exact opposite. If you withhold discipline you are setting them up for death. If you discipline your child, he will not die. We discipline our children so that they may be saved. But we do not only discipline our children, but we also instruct our children in the Lord. The instruction of the Lord takes places primarily at two places:
In the Home and in the Church.
Parenting is a community project. If we are a healthy church, then we understand that all help in teaching our children about God and his gospel. That is why during a child dedication, like Wesley’s, I ask you to stand to commit to help raise him in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Now although the church is supposed to help, the primary work of instruction is to be done in the home.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The teaching that Moses is talking about only can be done by parents. The church is to supplement and enhance what is happening in the home, but never to replace it. There is plenty more I can say, but we must move on.
#2 We Let Jesus be Supreme in Our Home when Fathers Give Hope to their children
Verse 3:21, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” One would think that after Paul addresses children he then would address parents, but notice he doesn’t address parents, but fathers. Fathers do not embitter your children. Paul addresses fathers because they were responsible to ensure the faithful discipline and instruction of the Lord. So fathers you have a high calling in your home. Fathers we must give hope to our children. There are several ways, we can give hope, but we must know what it looks like to be discouraged. A discouraged child is one that feels like he cannot please his father, feels it is impossible to do right, broken, despondent, hopeless. So we want to avoid making our child discouraged. Let me offer one negative way and two positive ways how we can work to this end.
First, we give hope to our children by not embittering or provoking. The word for embitter is a Greek word used for arouse, provoke, stir up or make resentful. What are ways a father can provoke his children? There are many, but let me provide you with a few:
Overcritical or constantly criticizing - A child with an overcritical father leads to discouragement. I experiences this as a college football player. I played fullback and tight end in college and was very rarely complemented by my coach. I even remember making a one hand catch on a badly thrown ball in practice. I came back to the huddle and my coach says, “Try to catch it softer next time.” What? Did you see that catch? What ends up happening with constant criticism is that you get so discouraged you want to stop trying. If I am never going to please him then why bother. Fathers, we cannot be overcritical.
Having Unrealistic expectations- With a child’s command to obey their parents in everything, parents have to be very wise what when they ask for their children’s obedience. Parents need to teach their children to obey, but we should enforce obedience in areas that is not essential. Unruly demands discourage and exasperate children to the point of despair. Make sure commands are age specific.
Withholding love and affection or neglect – Children need our attention and affirmation. I know several people, both men and women, who barely can remember their fathers expressing love and affection to them. The lack of a father’s love can discourage a child greatly.
There are other ways we can provoke our children. One of the best people we can ask is our wives. Maybe later today, fathers ask your wives in what ways you provoke your children.
Let me challenge you in two positive ways in which you can give hope to your children. Now remember we are not talking about the hope of the world. We are talking about giving our children hope in God. The only true hope in this world is a hope that rest on the person and work of Jesus Christ. We do not want to discourage our children and have them move away from God, but we want to give them hope so they will believe in God and be saved. Listen the way one pastor says it:
Here is what I mean. Paul's teaching makes it clear that when he says we should be fathers who give hope instead of discouragement, he means hope in GOD, not hope in money or hope in popularity or hope in education or hope in a spouse or hope in professional success. If you had asked Paul, or Jesus, "What kind of freedom from discouragement do you want our children to have?" he would not have said, "I want your children to be freed from discouragement by being filled with hope that they will become wealthy . . . or well-known, or intellectual, or married, or successful." We know that is not what he means. He means, be the kind of fathers who do not discourage your children but rather fill them with hope in God.
So let me suggest two ways you can give hope to your children.
First, you give hope in God, by having hope in God. If you want your children to believe in God, then you must show them what it looks like to have hope in God. Fathers, the best thing you can do for your children is to be filled with hope in God. Love His Word. Rejoice in the Salvation that we have in Christ. If our children see that we love God and are happy in Him, they will not be discouraged, but will want what we have. So the best way to not provoke your child is to be a new man in Jesus Christ. Do not be one who only professes Jesus, but denies him with his works. Be transformed by the gospel. Trust in Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ alone. If anyone is in Jesus Christ, he is a new creation. The best thing you can do for your children is to be reconciled to God through Christ. If you are here visiting today and are not a Christian, can I ask you if you have hope? And if you have hope, on what grounds do you have it?
Secondly, we give hope to our children by showing the Heavenly Father’s generous love. Fathers, it is essential for us to commend fatherhood to our children. Our children should see our love for them as a picture of how God, the Father, has loved them. Listen to Psalm 103:13, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” The love and compassion a father shows his children models the love and compassion that God shows to those who fear him. So fathers, is your love commending the Father to your children? We have an awesome and wonderful task to give our children the sweet taste of fatherhood so they will one day taste and see that the Lord is good. We must never underestimate the powerful influence a father can have on his children. So how do we commend fatherhood to our children? We commend God the Father when we act in generous love towards our children. For that is exactly how God has acted towards us. While we were dead in our trespasses and sins, God the Father so loved the World that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Even today, we can see the generous love of God as we celebrate communion. The Lord provided a picture for us in the Lord Supper in just how generous He has been with us.
God gave us his Son. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? What could be more generous than that? You model God’s love when you are generous with your life for the sake of your children. Lay your life down for your children that they may not be discouraged, but have hope in God through Jesus Christ.
Life is fallen. We sin. We fall short. Fathers do not always commend fatherhood to their children. But we have hope!! If we did not have a good earthly father, God has given us himself as the ultimate example as a Father. Listen the first interaction we see of the Father and the Son:
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Listen to what pastor Doug Wilson says we can see in God the Father from this scene. First, The Father was there. Second, The Father made his presence felt in the spending of the dove. Thirdly, He made his presence known by speaking. Fourth, he identified with his son saying, “You are my Son.” Fifth, he expressed love for His Son. And Sixth, he expressed his pleasure in the Son.” We can see what fathers should be in the God the Father and His relationship with His Son. But even if you never had a good father, you still have God the Father. The Bible says that we have been adopted as sons and daughters.
Romans 8:15-17, “15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.[g] And by him we cry, “Abba,[h] Father.”16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
 Piper, John. Fathers who Gives Hope. Accesed on 9/27/12. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/fathers-who-give-hope