“As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.” – Psalm 103:13
“And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
“Because I said so.” I waited my whole child and teenage life for the day when I would finally be able to say those words. “But Dad, why can’t I do this” or “Why do I have to do that”? “Because I said so.” As a kid, I would dream of the day when I would have the authority to command my children with no explanation other than my own order and direction.
Now, though, I find myself reading Psalm 103 and Ephesians 4 and asking, “But why do I say so?” What does it mean to have compassion for my children? Perhaps it is understanding that the authority I have not only as a parent but as an adult and role model for a younger generation is an authority that is to be used not for the sake of wielding power but for the sake of discipling a future generation.
I think that the words in Ephesians are not a restriction against ever doing anything to make our children mad. There are things we have to do and say that our children won’t like but we know we have to do for their protection and proper development. I think what Ephesians 6:4 reminds us is the authority we have been given over our children is not to be used simply to show them who is boss. That use of power, whether in the home or in a community group or in a nation state, will always provoke anger and revolt. As Peter Parker learned, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Our authority as adults and parents is given to us by God that we might instruct and guide our children to grow in wisdom and stature so that they can become disciples of and ambassadors for God’s kingdom. We are given authority not to prove we are better, but to help our children become better. When we put authority to use for the sake of others rather than for our own sake, then we begin to develop the compassion that Psalm 103 speaks about.
Who are the children that God has put in your life and given you authority or influence over? How can you work with God to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”?