Wednesday Night Lesson: ‘Nurturing Our Children’


I like the way Gary Ezzo illustrates the role of a parent. “Parents are the moral shepherds of their children’s souls, minds, and hearts.” I like that phrase – “Moral Shepherd.” That stresses to me that there is a role, a relationship, rules and results. The Apostle Paul touches on these points in Ephesians 6:4 –

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up  in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

I. But bring them up  in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

A. The Goal of Godly Parenting – Raise Spiritually Mature Children

1. Children who know the Lord as their personal Savior. Each child needs to have a personal relationship with Christ, not only for salvation, but for sanctification.

2. Children who understand and value biblical principles

a. Proverbs 4:11 ‘I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.’

b. Malachi 2:15 speaks of raising up a  ‘godly seed’

c. Deuteronomy 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged .

B. How do we do this?

Ephesians 6:4 …’Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

1. ‘Of the Lord’

a. God is the one who sets the standard. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, every man, woman, boy and girl in this world would love God and obey His commands. That’s what heaven will be.

b. Yet that’s not what earth is like. Amy used a great illustration the other night to describe what life is like. She said, “It’s like every one of us is trying to push a shopping cart that has a bent wheel and therefore is always trying to veer off to the side. The Christian life is learning how to keep that cart going straight.”

c. It’s our duty as parents to help our children learn how to keep the cart going straight.

2. ‘Bring them up’

a. The key thought behind this phrase is – ‘to nourish them to maturity.’

i. Most often when this particular word is used in scripture, it refers to  something or someone being fed; such as the Father feeding the fowls of the air.

ii. But it is also used in association with the early years of Jesus’ life. Luke 4:16  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up

b. We have already discussed this in previous studies, so I won’t say a whole lot. Yet there are just a couple of things that I would like to highlight.

i. It requires us to provide what is necessary for their growth and health

(I). In other words, children can’t raise themselves.

(II). It is our duty as parents to make sure that our children are eating a healthy diet – physically and spiritually.

(III). Which may mean that sometimes it is necessary to eat:

(A). Things that are good for us

(B). But may not be our first choice

ii. In addition, the way Paul originally wrote this implies that this is an ongoing, daily practice. It’s in the Present Tense which means that it is continuous action.

c. How do we bring up our children in the things of God?   There are two key words: nurture and admonition

Ephesians 6:4 …’Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

i. ‘Admonition’

(I).  The word ‘admonition’ is translated as ‘instruction’ in many of your Bibles

(A). It literally means to ‘put in mind’, ‘to impart understanding’, ‘to set right’ ‘to fix in their minds the things of God’

(B). Someone else has said to ‘appeal to the conscience, the will, and the reasoning faculties’

(IV). Therefore, we as parents have to see that our children are instructed in the things that will help them develop spiritually:

(A). Their relationship with

(1). God

(2). Others

(B). Greatest commandment – Lk 10:27

(C). Breakdown of the Ten Commandments

(1). Commandments 1-4 = Relationship with God

(2). Commandments 5-10 = Relationship with others

(V). We can’t assume that our children will naturally know how to live. It is our duty to teach them.

ii. ‘Nurture’

(I). There’s a second element to this and in many circles it’s the most unpopular. It has to do with the word ‘nurture.’

(A). The translation ‘nurture’ is a bit misleading here.

(B). Many other Bible versions translate it as ‘chastening’ or ‘discipline.’  (NAS, NLT)

(II). It is a specific word that means:

(A). The whole training and education of children  (NIV – ‘training’)

(B). Training with the aim of developing virtue in the child

(C). Which will include:

(1). The cultivation of their mind and morals

(2). Chastening for disobedience

(a). Correcting mistakes

(b). Curbing passions

II. ‘Fathers, provoke not you children to wrath’

A. Why – ‘fathers?’

1. John Phillips, who has been long recognized as a great Bible teacher, suggests in his commentary that though the term ‘father’ is used, it is generic and thus referring to both parents. When you place vs. 4 in its proper context, it is easy to see why Paul might be referring to both parents and not just the father.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

2. Throughout scripture, the father is seen as the primary person who makes or breaks the child

3. By nature men can be a bit rough and hard, especially if they are not under the authority of the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul may have felt it necessary to instruct men how to become a Christian father.

B. ‘Provoke not your children to wrath’

1. A more literal translation would be, ‘Do not exasperate your children.’ The word exasperate means to make someone angry, resentful and bitter.

2. There is a companion verse found in Colossians 3:21 -“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

a. The word discouraged refers to causing a child to lose heart

b. One commentary states – “The word implies losing heart … with a kind of blank resignation toward life.”A child who reaches this stage may also become angry about life.

3. There are a lot of things that can disheartened a child

a. Harsh and Abusive

1. Continuous criticism and rebuke and discipline that is too strict

2. According to Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on this passage, during Paul’s time, a Roman father held supreme authority over the home. When a baby was born, if the father picked the child up, it meant that the child was accepted. If the father did not pick the child up, the child was rejected.

b. Eli and His Sons – failure to deal properly with their rebellion

c. David and Absalom – neglect

d. Jacob and His 12 Sons – favoritism

III. Conclusion

The goal of godly parenting is to raise children who know the Lord as their personal Savior and who love His Word. In order for this to happen, parents must:

1. Consistently be involved with their children in order to create a nurturing atmosphere

2. Clearly instruct their children according to God’s Word

3. Enforce the consequences for disobedience

4. Encourage the conformity to what is virtuous

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