“[B]ring them up in the training1 and admonition of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4 The verse is addressed to fathers. The mother’s first responsibility is to help her husband. She is especially able to help bring up children in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Imagine Adam and Eve newly created. Adam has been told to “tend and keep” the garden. Eve is supposed to be Adam’s “helper.” Help him how? In many ways, but perhaps the first, most obvious way is to help tend and keep the garden. They work together. However, they discover that he can move boulders better than she can. And her nimble fingers are the better for picking blackberries. Hence the beginning of “man’s work” and “woman’s work.” No sinister chauvinism – just efficiency.
Then a child is born. Someone needs to spend less time in the garden in order to spend lots of time caring for the baby. Well, she can breast feed and he can’t. In between feedings and other baby care there is plenty of other “house” work. So it happens that she spends more time tending and keeping the children than he does; that becomes the most time-consuming way she helps her husband.
But he remains the head of the marriage. The instruction to bring the children up in the training and admonition of the Lord comes to him. For him to become the assistant child-trainer is errant.
“How can I fulfill that leadership responsibility? “ Partly by adopting God’s instruction to recipients of the OT law. “You shall teach them [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut. 6: 6-7.
It was my dad who taught me how to become a Christian, how to throw a football, how to handle a rifle, how to saw a board, how to drive a car, how to reduce danger while walking the streets of Chicago, how to handle money, how to get odd jobs, and he was my primary Bible teacher.
I recall a Saturday (This was typical.) when he was preparing to drive to the hardware store.
“Scottie, come with me.”
“Because I want you with me.”
Significant instruction took place when he and I were in the car. Once he launched into a story. I already knew the story; I knew the moral of the story. I didn’t interrupt, but I wondered if he was repeating this because he had forgotten or because he assumed I had.
Children are to be trained. I think that implies instruction, modeling, and supervised practice … followed by more instruction, more modeling, and more supervised practice. A word of caution is appropriate. Do not exasperate your child by becoming irritated by the amount of instruction, modeling, and supervised practice required. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Col. 3:21 The time required for adequate training may be more than you scheduled. Change your schedule.
Sometimes a father needs to relabel a goal. Perhaps your goal is to paint the fence before noon. If you work by yourself the goal can be met. If you change the goal to “paint the fence and teach my son to paint a fence” you are less likely to become irritated by the additional time required.
“Bring them up in … admonition ….” (Ephesians 6:4). “Admonition” means putting in mind.
For a child to close the door when he enters or departs is not difficult. Most likely he has no objection to closing the door. The problem is remembering. The task is not in his mind. The parent’s job is to put it in his mind. Timely words may be sufficient; the parent hollers to the hurrying child: “Remember to close the door.” Or timely words may not be sufficient.
Admonitions continue for years. “Remember to put your toys away.” “What do you say when someone gives you a gift?” “Did you brush your teeth?” “Finish your homework first.” “Lock the car door whenever you leave it.” Non-Christian parents admonish. Our admonitions should reflect the Lord’s values. Those admonitions include “Brush your teeth.” They should also include things like “Do all things without murmuring and disputing,” “Children, obey your parents,” Work on memorizing the Scripture verse,” and “visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Child-rearing by Christians should be consistent with Bible doctrine. Our children are natural born sinners. They are not innocent even though they are cute and affectionate. Positive reinforcement alone will not be adequate. Because they are sinners correction will be a prominent part of their life. To neglect adequate correction is neglecting a need. “The rod and reproof wisdom give wisdom. But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Prov.29:15 A young child should not be “left” to his own choices, preferences, and inclinations.
Reality is that “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” Prov. 22:15 Left to his own choices, preferences, and inclinations, he will make foolish choices. The Bible prescribes a remedy. “But the rod of correction will drive [foolishness] far from him.” No other means of correction has such authoritative recommendation.2
Proverbs 23:13 “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” Failure to use a rod puts a child at great risk.
Does spanking your child cause you grief? It should. “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”
“…fathers … bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
1 According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary the Greek word here translated “training” ”primarily denotes to train children.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine, MacDonald Publishing Company , Mc Lean, VA.
2Scott Long, Liam Gets a Spanking, Why and How, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.