The Way You Treat Them
10 June 2021
Reading: Song of Songs 1-4; Ephesians 6
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)
Paul has been writing about right behavior in relationships. He first writes about how we behave in family relationships, and in the next few verses he writes about master/servant, or employer/employee relationships. This verse is about how a father is to exercise authority over his children. At issue is not whether a parent should exercise authority and discipline, but how the authority is exercised and the discipline administered, and awareness of the effect of the exercise of authority and discipline on the child.
Authority can be wrongly exercised in a way that causes anger or humiliation, and leads to either rebellion or discouragement. Parental authority properly exercised is a tool God can use to give children a sense of security and peace.
For everyone in every situation where I exercise authority or exert influence, I must choose whether to exercise authority or influence for the benefit of the other or the benefit of myself. The result in terms of obedience may be the same either way, but the result in terms of the effect on the other person will be drastically different!
There is no place in the godly exercise of authority for angry threats, intimidation, belittling words and humiliating actions. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:8 NLT, “My authority is to build you up, not tear you down.”
Father, Today I pray for myself and for all who are in authority. Please give us grace to exercise our authority for the benefit of the one under authority and not merely to enforce our own will or the will of the authority structure we represent. Like Paul, may we use our authority to build others up and not tear them down. Amen.