“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
In each instance that Paul calls one group to submit to another, he immediately follows it up by calling on the one to whom submission is offered to not abuse their power. In Ephesians [5:22] he called wives to submit to their husbands, and then he immediately calls husbands to love their wives sacrificially ([5:25]). In 6:5 he calls bondservants to submit to their masters, and then he calls masters to care for and not threaten their servants (6:9). In today’s verse, Paul has called children to obey their parents, and then he right away calls fathers to “not provoke your children to anger.” There is a remarkable balance in the Apostle’s instruction, calling for submission to authority but also helping to avoid the abuse of power.
Mothers are also called to instruct and discipline their children in the Lord, but here the Apostle only identifies fathers because of their primary responsibility for leadership in the home and discipleship of their children. Paul is also aware that there can be a tendency in fathers to be overbearing in the home, forcing their will on their children in matters of obedience and behavior. Instead, he calls for a better balance between firmness and gentleness, toughness and tenderness, challenge and encouragement. This kind of fatherly leadership more accurately reflects the heart of Christ.
Father, thank You for the way you patiently care for me and lead me through struggles. In my leadership, help me to not provoke others to anger but to humbly share the truth and walk in righteousness. Amen.