"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord"
By Ralph G. Finch, Jr.
Any command of God carries with it a sense of both responsibility and privilege. To bring children up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" means to nourish them in discipline and in the instruction of the Lord. Discipline sometimes includes punishment, but it always includes instruction and admonition. Nurture has the thought of nourishing, rearing, training, and educating. The mind is to be nourished with wholesome discipline and instruction, as the body is with proper food. Discipline can refer to all that knowledge which is proper for children, including elementary principles and rules for behavior. Instruction can imply whatever is necessary to develop the mind. It is to touch, regulate, and purify the passions; and necessarily includes the whole of religion. Both of these should be administered "in the Lord" – according to His will and Word, and in reference to His eternal glory. This is the care and nourishment to be given to a tender plant.
Our children’s physical development should be cared for. Their intellectual development is important. Parents should look well to the minds of their children and inquire into what they think. But especially should their spiritual powers be watched over. This nurturing and training is all to point directly or indirectly toward God and righteousness.
The farmer who neglects the culture of his fields will soon have his acres overrun with thorns and briars and noxious weeds; and the parent who neglects the culture of his child may soon discover evils far more hideous and disastrous.
Parents should consider their children as being committed to their care by God. Every parent is responsible to God for his own soul and for that of the child who has been given him. That child is his care, his charge; it may be a part of his talent, and to neglect it and thus bury his responsibility in the ground is a serious offense to God Almighty.
The command is – "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." "Admonition" means friendly reproof, counseling against a fault or oversight, warning. The independence of children in these days and the lack of parental authority are wrecking God’s standards for the home. It brings chaos into every department of our society. There is a lack of filial obedience because there has been a lack of parental authority.
God intends that every child learn willing submission within the precincts of the home. He also intends that every parent exercise authority over the children "in the Lord." It is true that parents are not to provoke and irritate their children by unfair dealings, but it is equally true that they are to exercise the authority of reproof, or counsel, and of oversight in directing their lives.
It is in the home that children are to learn to talk and to pray. It is there that they are to learn politeness in working, in playing, in eating and in talking. It is there that they are to learn to study and to work, and not to be idlers. It is there that they are to learn to be select in their companionship, that they may not get into evil associations later on. One of the strongest warnings of the Scriptures is to shun the fool and his way. It is in the home that the children are to learn order and punctuality. Counseling has the thought of mutual deliberation, of advising, and of exercising judgment and prudence. This is part of that "admonition of the Lord."
As parents we have a task, a God-given task – often an exhausting task that takes time and labor; that taxes the mind, the nerves, the patience, the endurance. Many parents are not willing to pay such a price. It is easier to adopt permissiveness or to give an excuse.
But what about the command God has given? Those children are going to face life alone some day, and they will need to be fortified with good habits, sound reason, sobriety, industry, and godliness which they have imbibed from godly parents. Children may have godly teachers and godly preachers, but these will never equal godly parents. According to God’s standard the counsel of such parents is a rich heritage, and is to be deeply cherished.
Is all this salvation? No, but it will help give the mental and moral stamina that will enable the children to partake of spiritual things, and to hold steady in a thousand storms of life. The memory of spiritual parents will be like a life-giving ointment to the children in the tomorrows.
In Proverbs 31 we are given a description of a virtuous woman: "Her price is far above rubies," and, "she looketh well to the ways of her household."
Mrs. Wesley never considered herself discharged from the care of her children. Into all situations she followed them with her prayers and counsel; and her sons, even when at the university, benefited from her wise parental instructions.
We need more parents rightfully concerned for the spiritual and moral welfare of their families. May God help us as parents in the golden years of seedtime to take heed, so that the years of harvest shall be with joy and not sorrow.
– From Emmanuel Herald.