The Role of the Parents, Part 2 – Colossians 3:21 & Selected Scriptures

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

April 10, 2011

The Role of the
Parents, Part 2

Colossians 3:21 &
Selected Scriptures




For several weeks we have been looking at what Paul says in Colossians
3:18-21 about the family and the role of the individuals within it – wife,
husband, children and parents. This week I want to continue our examination of
the role of parents for there is much more that the Bible says about parenting
than just Paul’s brief prohibition in Colossians 3:21“Fathers, do not
exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.”
This command is an
additional specific instruction to parents that is dependent on the parent
carrying out all the other commands he gave in verses 1-17. A godly parent must
put off actions and attitudes that characterized them before being saved and put
on the attitudes and actions that are in keeping with the new self that comes
with being redeemed, regenerated and raised up with Christ. Put off things such
as immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, anger, wrath, malice,
slander and abusive speech and put on compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness, patience, bearing one another’s burdens, forgiving each other, being
loving and having the word of Christ richly dwell in you. The godly parent is to
then correct their children of wrong behaviors and attitudes while instilling
into them these same virtues.

My purpose last week was to lay a simple foundation for parenting. My major
point boils down to the fact that you as the parent are responsible to raise
your children. It is not something you can pass off to other people. Their care,
education, medical care, and spiritual development are your responsibility, not
that of the government, school district, counselors, doctors or church workers.

This does not mean you have to do it all, and in fact the wise parent will
have others help because no one is an expert on everything or capable, even in
logistical terms, of doing everything. However, everything is to be done under
your direction. You do have to know what is going on when, where and why. And if
you are not satisfied with the help you are getting with your children, then
find new or additional help whether a teacher, a doctor or whoever else is

My major points last week were 1) Children will generally become like their
parents, so your example is crucial including your marriage. 2) The proof of
good parenting will be the child, and good children are the result God’s grace
and parents that will follow God’s commands. 3) God requires children to obey
their parents, so parents need to require it or they teach their children to
sin. Obedience needs to be the first time, right away and with a good attitude.
4) There is a dual responsibility for how a child turns out as an adult. The
child is fully responsible for his own actions and attitudes. The parents are
fully responsible for carrying out the Lord’s commands with the child being a
reflection of how well they have done at that. 5) The solution for guilt is
confession and forgiveness. (See:
Role of Parents, Part 1

That last point is extremely important in both continuing to mature yourself
and being able to have a continuing influence on your adult children. Since none
of us have yet reached perfection, every parent will have failings. The humble
parent that will humbly recognize their own failings, confess them, receive
God’s forgiveness and be freed from guilt while becoming more like Christ in the
process. Such a humble parent will be in a better position to give advice and
have that advice received by their adult children. It should be the great desire
of every godly Christian parent that their children will go beyond them in every
way, but especially in virtue, by building on their parents’ legacy. You be
careful to leave such a legacy to your children and grandchildren even if they
do not yet recognize its value.

This week I want to concentrate on some of the specific commands God has
given to parents concerning the rearing of their children, both positive and
negative. Since Colossians 3:21 is a prohibition, let us begin with the things
parents are to avoid.

Prohibitions on ParentsColossians 3:21, Ephesians 6:4

Colossians 3:21 sates, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that
they may not lose heart.”
As already mentioned this morning, this command is
simply a specific instruction to parents that assumes they will already be
fulfilling the commands given in the 20 previous verses. Ephesians 6:4 makes a
similar statement, “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” This
is also based on the assumption the parent will be following all the other
commands given earlier in the letter, and specifically walking as wise men who
are filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-21).

But why these specific prohibitions? The answer lies in the abuse that can
easily arise from being in the superior position. The children have just been
commanded to obey their parents, and if the parent is not careful they can
easily become authoritarian and arbitrary in their commands without the proper
thought in what is being taught to the child and the difficulties the commands
place on the child. All of us are too prone to selfishness to not need this

The idea of exasperation (ejreqivzw /
erethizô) is to stir up, stimulate, provoke. This is a response to something
that is happening. Such a stirring up could be good or bad depending on what is
being stirred up, but in this case it is bad. The father is provoking the child
to a response of being disheartened. The word here, (ajqumevw
/ athumeô), is the negation of spirit, courage. This is an interesting
juxtaposition in the words for we usually think that something that stimulates
will provoke action, but this does the opposite. The child is provoked to give
up. How can that be? Because when something is prodded too long, callous builds
up and it then no longer responds. Like a sliver embedded in the skin, it
irritates and provokes at first, but eventually callous tissue forms around it
so that it is no longer noticed. So it also is with children. This negative
stimulation will at first cause anger, as Ephesians 6:4 warns, but eventually it
discourages and disheartens creating indifference or even despondency.

There are many things parents can do to provoke their children to an angry
response which when continued could eventually lead to discouragement and giving
up. Let me suggest a few things that you need to be careful about, but first let
me be clear that you are not to parent based on the response of your children.
Children can be, and probably are most often, angry when they do not get their
way. You do not stop what you are doing just because they get angry, but you
should give careful consideration to why they are angry and then proceed with
godly wisdom to parent according to the principles of God’s word.

1) Abuse: Physical and verbal. Generally, those who abuse, whether
physically or verbally, are those who cannot control their own anger, and such
anger only breeds more anger. Proverbs 30:33, “For the churning of milk
produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of
anger produces strife.”
Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
This is true for kids as well as adults.
This kind of anger is never godly and it cannot produce godly results. James
1:20 tells us that “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of
Parents should never take out their anger on their children. Even if
you have suffered at the hands of someone else, you need to remember that
revenge belongs to God, not you, and you are to overcome evil with good (Romans

A simple definition of child abuse is striking out at a child, either
physically or verbally, out of anger. That is never proper for any parent, and
even more so the Christian parent. You must not even discipline your child in
anger, but must calm down before administering proper chastisement. Such abuse
only produces anger in the child as they respond by lashing out at you or
others, or they may internalize it out of fear you. If it goes on long enough,
the child can become despondent and severely depressed, or that anger may burn
internally as resentment waiting for the time when it can be expressed.

2) Inconsistency. This is a great cause of frustration to children.If the rules of the home change according to your whim, then you are going to
provoke your children to some form of anger. Consider it from the child’s
perspective. One day you write on the wall and your considered “cute,” The next
day your little bottom is spanked for the same thing. One day mom says to do
something five or six times before she actually gets serious, the next day she
says it once and then comes in with a paddle. One meal you play with your food
and dad laughs, at the next meal dad is angry with you for doing the same thing.
The child is confused and is uncertain of what is expected, and children will
gamble when you are inconsistent being optimistic they can get away with it.
This is one of the reasons that first time obedience is so important. Children
know what is expected when parents are consistent and so it is easier on both of

Inconsistency causes frustration which in turn leads to anger. If such
inconsistency is continued long enough, even an optimistic child can become
pessimistic and quit trying out of fear they will do the wrong thing no matter
what they try to do. Aren’t you glad that the Lord is the same yesterday, today
and forever (Hebrews 13:8)? He is consistent so that His commands remain the
same and you can trust His promises. Pity those following a god such as Allah
who is arbitrary and changes his mind on his own whims so that there is no
surety in his promises.

3) Parental Selfishness. This is another provocation to anger. This is
the opposite of the child centered parent – which is a whole different problem.
The degree of selfishness will vary, but for these parents the world revolves
around themselves and children are an intrusion. The result is that they do not
take the time needed to really know their children and what is on their hearts.
While this may be more common among dads since their work usually takes them
away from the house and the children to begin with, it also occurs among moms.
The parent may even be physically present, but their mind is somewhere else and
only rarely on the children, and then only enough to keep them out of their way.

The child with a selfish parent will not usually be angry with the parent, at
least while they are small, but they will be angry at whatever takes the parent
away from them. As they get older that will change to an anger, resentment or
indifference because there was not practical demonstration the parent cared
about them. The old pop song “Cats in the Cradle” illustrates this last
point well. The son wanted to be with his dad, but dad never had the time. When
the dad became old and wanted to be with his son, the son did not have the time.
As the song writer put it, “My son was just like me.” The selfish
indifference was passed to the next generation.

4) Favoritism. This is a danger for every family with multiple
children. Each child is different and will need different amounts and types of
attention. Add to it that you might just like the personality of one of them
more than the others. If you allow yourself to favor one and are not fair to the
others, you are showing both favoritism and your own selfishness. You will be
the cause of increased sibling rivalry and the resulting anger and resentment

The anger and rivalry that existed between Jacob and Esau was directly caused
by their parents favoritism. Rebekah favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau. Jacob
followed his parental example and his obnoxious favoritism of Joseph caused all
sorts of problems for Joseph, himself and his other eleven sons.

5) Excessive Expectations and Discouragement. I put these two together
because they are so often associated with each other. This is the parent that
continually demands more of their child than they are capable of and then
castigates them when they fail. Such parents usually fail to make allowance for
childishness which is the simple fact that the child does not yet have the
skills to do certain things. It takes practice to learn to hold a cup with out
spilling it, to color between the lines, to write the alphabet legibly, to throw
and catch a ball, or to read. The same will continue to be true as they get
older and take on more difficult skills – riding a bike, driving a car, cooking,
school lessons, household chores and repairs, etc.

In addition, the reality is that we are neither born with nor develop with
equal ability. Every child will be different. Some will have great intellectual
capacity, others will not. Some will have great physical ability and others will
not. Don’t compare your children to others including siblings either way. The
proper expectation and requirement is that your children do their best, whatever
that may be.

If your child is advanced, there is nothing wrong with complimenting them on
their achievements. However, do not brag on them about how superior they are or
you will feed their pride to their detriment. As Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride
goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
You also
want to make sure they are doing their best and do not fall into the trap of
slacking off because they are ahead of others their age. Your goal is to train
their character. Learning the academic lessons and gaining particular skills are
secondary to character development.

If your child is behind the other children in their skills, abilities, and
achievements, then you still compliment them on what they are able to do while
encouraging them to press on to do their best even if it is not as good as
others. Again, the goal is to train their character, not learning academic
lessons and gaining particular skills within some particular time frame. If you
complain or make disparaging remarks about their lack, you will discourage them.
If you compare them to others, especially siblings, you foster resentment. Be
very careful of put downs and sarcasm. Ephesians 4:29 is clear that we are to
speak in ways that will encourage and build up, giving grace according to the
need of the moment. Don’t let your parental pride become a detriment to your
child through excessive expectations and discouragement.

6) Using affection to manipulate. Making your affection conditional is
a sure way to destroy your children. We are to be reflections of God’s love
toward us who loved us when we were yet sinners. Certainly when your children
disobey there is a strain in the relationship the same way there is in our
relationship with God when we disobey Him, but He still loves us and tells us
so. You need to do the same with your children. They need to know that when they
have done wrong, the correction and chastening they receive is because you do
love and care for them. You are not rejecting them, but only striving to train
them for their own good. You are to always stand ready to forgive and reconcile
with them. Hebrews 12:6 says that is the way God loves us. “He chastens whom
He loves,”
but those without His discipline are illegitimate and not His
sons (12:8).

Trying to manipulate the child’s behavior by making your love conditional
upon it will not only distort their understanding of love, but it will bring
upon them frustration and discouragement. Why? Because there will always be
another area in which they fail to meet the standard. Winning love becomes
achievable only in the short term and so there is never security in it. The
insecurity of not feeling loved is only relieved temporarily before it returns
with the next failure and its frustrations. The goal becomes unreachable
resulting in discouragement.

Parents have a great responsibility. You must be careful to not provoke your
children to anger or exasperate them causing them to lose heart. If that becomes
the pattern in your parenting, you will damage your children in ways that can
hinder them throughout their lives. The reality is that you will do these things
on occasion, at which point you need to confess your own failures and seek
forgiveness and reconciliation with them. This should be done as quickly as
possible after you realize your error and failure. If you do not recognize what
you have done wrong until long after you have done it, it is never too late to
confess and seek God’s forgiveness, and if those you have wronged are still
alive, it is not too late to confess and seek their forgiveness too. That even
lays a foundation for either reconciliation or a closer relationship than you
might have thought possible.

There are a lot more Scriptures that direct parents about things they are to
avoid in raising their children. The Proverbs have many such statements which
are also often contrasted with what should be done. If there is enough interest,
perhaps next week I will continue on this subject, but for what little time
remains this morning, I want to balance out these prohibitions with some of the
general prescriptive commands of what God wants parents to do.

Prescriptions on ParentsEphesians 6:4

Let me contrast the prohibition we have just looked at in Ephesians 6:4 with
God’s prescription given in the same verse. Parents are to “bring [their
children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Bring them up. To “bring them up” is the idea of caring for them.
The word here (ejktrevfw / ektrephô) is
primarily used of children and means to “to nourish” as in “to feed, provide,”
“nurture,” “rear.” And as we are all aware, feeding is an on going action. It
seems we have hardly finished one meal when we are already starting to plan for
the next. The same idea is inherent in bringing up a child. It is on going. One
task is done and the next one starts and often the first task has to be repeated
several times. You get them to crawl and then start on walking which is followed
by running, riding a bike and then driving. You teach them the alphabet, and
then putting letters together to make words, then reading and writing at ever
increasing levels. They learn to count, then simple addition, then subtraction,
which is followed by multiplication, division, fractions, proportions,
scientific notation, logarithms, geometry, algebra, calculus, etc. You teach
them to talk, then you have to teach them to be quiet!

Paul speaks of two aspects of bringing up a child. Discipline and

Discipline. This is discipline in sense of training. The word used
here (paideiva / paideia) specifically refers to
the various aspects of training a child and so it is also translated as
chastening, nurture, instruction, discipline and training. There is a tendency
to think of child training, especially discipline, from the negative side of
teaching them lots of prohibitions – what they are not to do – and then bringing
on the consequences of violating them. Certainly that negative training is
included, but most of discipline should be positive training. This is the
education of the child in all aspects – morally and spiritually as well as about
the world and society. It involves example, lecture, reading, observation and
discovery. It sets up opportunity for practice, gives reminders as well as
correction back to the standard to reinforce a lesson. It is both formal and
informal, for it is to occur throughout the day in every circumstance.

A good explanation and example of what it means to discipline in this manner
is seen in Deuteronomy 6 where Moses is concerned about how to teach the next
generation the commandments of the Lord in a way that the generations following
them will also be taught.

In verse 4 Moses condensed the Law into a succinct statement – “Hear, O
Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your
God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Jesus called this the great and foremost commandment (Matthew 22:38). Moses took
that which was fairly complex and simplified it so that it could be easily
remembered. He took the law to its foundational general principle, which if
adhered to would lead a person back to most of the specifics God asked of them.

In verse 5 he explained how this important lesson would be transferred from
generation to generation: “And these words, which I am commanding you today,
shall be on your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.”

You are to teach your children about God and the principles by which they are
to live. This is hard work and involves pointing out and explaining things over
and over in many different situations. Your goal is that they will both
understand and have many examples to transfer to their own situations. Proper
parenting is on going and teaches a child to think for himself according to the
principles of God’s word and instilled through proper training.

Instruction. This is the second aspect of bringing up a child. The
word used here (nouqesiva / nouthesia) gives
more stress on the mental aspect of teaching in that the root word means “to
set in mind.”
Instruction sets in the mind both the spiritual and societal
truths of life in how to live with God and with man. This would be exemplified
by the book of Proverbs which was written, according Proverbs 1:2-6, “To know
wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, 3 To receive
instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; 4 To give
prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, 5 A wise man will
hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise
counsel, 6 To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their

There is also a strong element of correction in this element of child rearing
which is why the word is also translated as “admonition,” “warning” and
“exhortation” as well as “instruction.” In this sense it is instructive
correction given without provoking or embittering the child.

Of the Lord. A final point I want to make from Ephesians 6:4 is that
the parental discipline and instruction given are to be “of the Lord.”
The primary task of parents now is really the same as what Moses gave to the
children of Israel. Our children are to understand who the Lord is, what He has
done for them and what it means to love Him. Parents who fail to do this have
failed regardless of how much time and money they have spent on their children.
Too many dads think they are successful if they can purchase lots of stuff for
their kids. Too many moms think they are successful if they give lots of time to
their kids. However, if time and materials are not used to help your child
understand God, what He has done and how to love Him, then it was all wasted.

Nurturing a child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord should
encompass all that 2 Timothy 3:16,17 says the Word of God is to accomplish in
us. It provides the teaching, reproof, correction and instruction in
righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Teaching points out the path of life. Reproof warns you have gotten off that
path. Correction gets you back on the path. Instruction tells you how to stay on
the path. That is what you will do for your children as you nurture them in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This is no easy task. It is one of awesome responsibility. There is no
responsibility or privilege you will ever have that will be greater than raising
your children. No parent has it all together, which is why you are to be humble
and always looking to the Lord in your own life so that you can succeed by both
following His instructions, and relying on His mercy and grace upon your
children to bring them to maturity despite your own failings. Commit yourself to
bringing your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord while
avoiding provoking them to anger or exasperating them causing them to lose
heart. If you do so, your children will become a blessing to both you and
others, which is the real mark of successful parenting.


Parents, you are responsible to apply
God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a
picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to
your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:
1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2)
Count how many times “parent(s)” is used. Discuss with your parents their role
and what you can do to help them fulfill it.




Questions to consider in discussing
the sermon with others. What is the relationship between Paul’s command to
fathers in Colossians 3:21 and all the verses preceding it? What is the nature
of the responsibility of a parent for their child? What should you do when you
find out you have not followed all of God’s instructions concerning raising your
children? Why is that important? What does it mean in Colossians 3:21 to
“exasperate” and why would that cause a child to “lose heart?” What is the
relationship to this and provoking to anger (Ephesians 6:4)? Define child abuse?
What are the short term and long term effects of physical and / or verbal abuse
on a child? What harm does parental inconsistency cause a child? How does
parental selfishness affect a child? What is the cause of parental favoritism
and what is its result among siblings? How can you keep the balance between
having expectations that are too high and too low? How should you treat an
exceptionally gifted child? How should you deal with a child that is a slow
learner or has poor physical abilities? What effect does conditional love have
on a child? How is a parent to show love to a child that is disobedient and
rebellious? How should you respond when you find out you have exasperated your
child or provoked them to anger? What does it mean to “bring up” a child in
Colossians 3:21? What are the positive and negative aspects of discipline? Why
should most discipline be positive in nature? What should be your goal in
training your children? How can Deuteronomy 6:4-7 help you reach that goal? How
does instruction differ from discipline? What are its positive and negative
aspects? How will a parent know if they are being successful in their parenting?

Sermon Notes

The Role of the
Parents, Part 2 – Colossians 3:21 & Selected




Colossians 3:21 is an additional specific command to
parents founded on the commands of verses 1-20

Parents are ________________ to raise their children –
others can only help with that responsibility

Children will follow the parents’ example, be sure your
example is ____________

The proof of good parenting will be the child

God requires children to ____________ their parents, so
parents must also require it

The parent and the child are responsible for their own sin
and failures, not for that of the other

The solution for guilt is ____________ and forgiveness

Prohibitions on ParentsColossians 3:21, Ephesians 6:4

Due to their ________position, it is easy for a parent to
become authoritarian and arbitrary with their kids

Exasperation (ejreqivzw /
erethizô) = to stir up, ____________ , provoke

Lose heart (ajqumevw /
athumeô) = the negation of _________, courage

This negative stimulation will often at first cause anger
(Ephesians 6:4) but eventually it _____________

    1) Abuse: Physical and verbal – Anger breeds
___________- Proverbs 30:33; 15:1; James 1:20

Child abuse occurs when __________ strikes out either
physically or verbally

    2) Inconsistency – The rules keep
______________ according to the parent’s whim

Inconsistency causes _____________which in turn leads to
anger and then eventually to disheartenment

    3) Parental Selfishness – The self centered
parent treats the child as an _______________ into their life

Young children become angry at parental neglect, older
children become ________________

    4) Favoritism – showing preference for one
child while being ___________ to the others

The anger and ____________ between Jacob and Esau was
caused by the favoritism of their parents

    5) Excessive Expectations and Discouragement
– demanding more than the child is ____________

Allow ___________ for the child to develop skills

Every child is ______________ in innate abilities and the
rate at which they develop and learn

Compliment, but don’t feed the __________ of the superior
child and don’t let them rest on their laurels

Compliment and encourage the slower child to do their
_________ – whatever that may be

The goal is ___________development, not gaining skills and
learning lessons within some set time frame

    6) Using affection to manipulate – making
your love _______________ will destroy your children

Like God, ___________ them even when they sin, and correct
them out of that love (Hebrews 12:6-8)

When you realize you have provoked or exasperated your
child, ___________ it and reconcile with them

Prescriptions on ParentsEphesians 6:4

    Bring them up, (ejktrevfw
/ ektrephô) = the ____________action of feeding, providing, nurturing a

    Discipline, (paideiva
/ paideia) = _______a child with both the negative and positive aspects
of teaching

Deuteronomy 6:4 – a succinct summation of ______________
of all of God’s laws

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – the ____________ by which parents are
to train their children to love God

    Instruction, (nouqesiva
/ nouthesia) = emphasis on the _________aspects of teaching – “to set
in mind”

It teaches know ___________ to live with God and man –
Proverbs 1:2-6

This includes instructive ________________ that is given
without provoking or embittering the child

    Of the Lord – the primary task of parents is to
know, love and walk with God

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – Use the _______________ to teach,
reprove, correct and instruct on the path of life

Commit yourself to bringing up your children in this
manner and they will be a ________to you & others

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