Bring Them Up

We were getting the house ready for a big gathering, and I went out to pick up a few tables in my old blue farm truck. The trip there went as expected, but when it was time to come home, ‘Old Blue’ just wouldn’t start. I caught a ride back home with my brother-in-law. The next day, I managed to get the truck started and taken to the mechanic.  He looked it over for about 20 seconds and nonchalantly said, “All you need to do is replace the starter.”

He said that to me as if he were saying, “All you need to do is turn the key.”

We all have those things we say to each other…things that are easy to say, sound nice, and make it seem simple to do but…..the saying is often much easier and the actual doing is often much more difficult.  

Sometimes, when I read Paul’s words to families in Ephesians 6, I feel like I did when the mechanic was telling be about my trucks broken starter.  It sounds easy when you read it, but the actual doing is going to take some work.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

The translation of the Greek word to the English phrase “bring them up”  does not do justice to the intention of care expressed by the verb.  Paul’s previous use of this same verb was in  Ephesians 5:29 where it was translated “feeds” but more accurately conveys the idea of “nurture.”

“Bring them up” means to nourish and nurture up from childhood to maturity by providing not just for physical needs but also for emotional and spiritual needs.

More exactly, Paul uses this verb in the present imperative tense as a command calling for this to be the father’s lifestyle or habitual practice. In a sense, he should always (even when he is old and grey) be “bringing up” his children.

Parenting is an intense, invasive, time consuming….life consuming, interactive, all encompassing journey that requires more of you than you have to give. It kind of seems easy at first when you just see it written there: “bring them up,” but it’s one of the hardest things you could ever do.

As we “bring up” our children, God has placed a lot of weight on us as parents. The good news: this is not a weight we were ever supposed to carry on our own.

You see, the mechanic never intended for me to fix my truck on my own with my own tools and talents.  Likewise, the Father never never intended for us to bring up our children by our own strength and abilities.


Practical Ways to “Bring Up” Children

(Adapted from The NIV Application Commentary on Ephesians by Klyne Snodgrass)

1. Refuse to live through them

2. Avoid unhealthy pressure or expectations

3. Reject jealousy and contempt

4. Refuse to put down, demean, or damage them

5. Attend to their material and emotional needs

6. Provide experiences— especially in work and in caring for others

7. Grant freedom within legitimate boundaries

8. Create a context of grace, love, support, respect, and encouragement

9. Always speak the truth in love

10. Give a theology of life in Christ


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