first cuddle

Ephesians 6

4 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.

Here, Paul is turning the Roman world upside down again.  Instead of punishing an angry child, the ball falls into the father’s court.  Yes, dad, children are to obey you, but it doesn’t end there.  Parents are called to a mutual responsibility. Parents are to behave appropriately with their children, as well. Parents are not to treat them harshly so the children would become bitter and resentful.

This goes along with the “love your neighbor as yourself” command of Jesus that we considered last week. We saw how to love your neighbor as yourself begins with your closest neighbor.  The closest neighbor you have if you are married is your spouse. Husbands and wives are to devote themselves to each other.

Then, if you have children, they become your primarily focus for devotion and flourishing. When Paul uses the phrase, “Bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord,”  he is mainly speaking of parenting skills. Treat your children as Jesus would treat them if he were you. Here is how Jesus treats children.

“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” (Matthew 18)

It can’t be any clearer. The way we treat our children is the way we treat Jesus.  Our children are to flourish. When fathers and mothers care for their children the way Jesus cares for them, their lives are blessed. Now, to be a parent seems a bit overwhelming when you look at it from Jesus’ view. And it is.

Martin Luther went so far as to declare being a parent the highest calling there is. Serving God in this way is the peak of Christian devotion. Think about what our families would look like, what our communities would look like, what our nation would look like if parents would see children as their highest calling and raise them to flourish. Jesus is serious about this. Listen to what he says next.

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Jesus is absolutely serious about the way we treat our children. Cherish them, provide for them, protect them, raise them to know how much Jesus loves them, and you will do well.

Treat children harshly, abuse them, ignore them, make them disposable- things will not go well for you. As a family, as a community, as a nation…

ME

What are ways children are treated poorly in our society? How is this different than what God desires?

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