…instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NIV)
To start with, what is exasperate? From Dictionary.com, exasperate means “to irritate or provoke to a high degree; annoy extremely.” What is Paul trying to say? And why is it addressed to fathers only, and not parents in general?
Maybe part of the answer lies in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24); not in what the father said, but in what the father didn’t say.
When the younger son asked for his share of the estate, his father didn’t say:
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Why can’t you be like your older brother?”
“It’s a lot of money, don’t blow it!”
When the son came home, his father didn’t say:
“Where is all the money?”
“Your brother never would have done this!”
“Do you know how worried I’ve been? How could you do this to me!”
When the son said he was not worthy, his father didn’t say:
“So what have you learned from your experience?”
“Are you sure you’re really sorry?”
“It will take a long time for me to trust you again!”
God, our heavenly father, loves us perfectly and completely. He created each one of us for a purpose; we are needed and wanted by Him. We have value beyond measure in His eyes. The grace shown by the father to his wayward son surely left no doubt about how much his father loved him!
Maybe that’s why our earthly father was given this command: he shapes our perception of the word “father” right from the start.
The more secure we are in our earthly father’s love for us because he tells us about the Lord and demonstrates Godly love, including what we learn by the way he disciplines us, the more we can know and understand God’s great love for us.
The more we feel we need to “measure up” to our earthly father’s standards because we are corrected too much or for the wrong things, the more we’ll feel like a failure in God’s eyes.
The more our fathers exasperate us instead of affirming us with their words and actions, the more we’ll search for our value from other sources – drugs, relationships, work, performance.
As we grow up, we are told about our Father God and how much He loves us. Our ability to believe that truth is conditioned by how we perceive ourselves in the eyes of our earthly father. The more we feel valued and loved by our earthly father, the easier it is for us to believe in and receive God’s perfect love.
The truth is, we are all needed, wanted, and valued by a perfect Heavenly Father that will never leave us or forsake us.
No matter how your earthly father treated you, your Heavenly Father is waiting with open arms to give you the love we all need so desperately. He loves you so much that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die for you. Reach up for His love, He’s waiting.
And fathers who have exasperated their children, this love is waiting for you too.
It’s never too late.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Pray this prayer with me: Father God, it’s hard for me to believe you really love me. I have done so many horrible things, I feel so ashamed. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am! If you’re there, please help me. I want to believe, but I don’t know how – I’m so broken. Please show me the way.”