Do not exasperate your children.
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
Feeling we are never good enough creates exasperation. A father can exasperate their children even as they teach the principles of God and teach a child in the ways of God. It is not what is taught that opens a child to the heart of God, it is the response they receive when they fail. This is the difference between a father who exasperates and a father who leads their children to the Lord.
Exasperation is the absence of grace and acceptance in failure.
As parents, we want our children to have a better life than we did. But when the direction they take in life becomes more important than their heart that we lose them. We begin to exasperate our children.
The Bible says that if we claim we have no sin in us, then we are liars and have no love in us. To act as if we do not sin, we are liars more concerned with what others think of us than what God thinks of us. To make a child feel as if they have to be perfect is to force them to present themselves as perfect, to be perfect, to do everything right all the time. This will suck the love of God right out of their hearts.
Why do we do this?
When those who have loved us exasperate us, in our inmost place, we will associate love with perfection without even realizing what we are doing. It will actually feel as if we are loving our children even as we extend no grace in their failures. If those who loved us gave no structure or discipline, it enabled bad behavior that we don’t want for our children. In our desire for them to have a better life, we may over-correct and become too harsh. But those who may have parented us in one of these ways were most likely trying to love us, but their love did not mimic the love of God.
The love of God extended at its highest as we failed Him. While we were yet sinners, He died for us. This is grace. God gives us great structure and calls us to live right, but when we fail, His love is not absent. He extends grace.
Prayer: Lord, help me not to be like those in my life or to over-correct, but let my love mimic yours as I raise my children. Amen.