Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Colossians 3:20-21 O Fathers, do not make your children resentful

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, August 24, 2019

20 O Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.  21 O Fathers, do not make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.

This passage repeats what Paul said to the Ephesians in a longer form: “1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” (this is an important commandment with a promise) 3“that it may go well with you and that you may have long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not anger your children, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4). Here Paul modifies the last part for his readers at Colosse: “Do not make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.”

Every book on parenting could and should be based on these two verses. If either is emphasized too much, there will be a terrible imbalance. Where they are given equal priority and applied with Christian faith, they are a sure guide to raising up a child, to being a good leader in any sense, and even toward being a fine world leader.

Verse 20 and its counterpart in Ephesians 6:1-3 shows that the obedience of children toward their parents falls under the Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother.” An important part of this command is remembering that parents are sinful human beings. One of a child’s parents might not be a Christian or might belong to another denomination. A child’s father might be part of a secret society that is anti-Christian in its beliefs, such as the Masonic Lodge. A child’s father might be guilty of some sinful vice that has become a habit he can’t kick. The Fourth Commandment still stands. However, if a father (or mother) tells a child to do something that violates God’s law or the laws of the nation, that parent has forced the child into a difficult position. He must obey God above all (Acts 5:29). If a father teaches his son that their family holds a grudge against another family, the son is bound by a greater Father, who commanded: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). But apart from such temptations that parents inflict on their children sometimes, children should show respect. “You must rise in the presence of gray hair and show respect in the presence of an elder, so that you fear your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32, EHV).

Verse 21 reminds parents that they have an equal responsibility under the Fourth Commandment. They must raise their children in such a way that they do not make their children resentful. Love can be shown in many ways, both affectionately and with discipline. But through Paul, the Holy Spirit commands us to temper discipline with affection. Let the word of God be a guide. The Lord condemns sin and threatens punishment, but the Lord does not abuse his people, or discipline them unnecessarily, and the Lord always follows the law with the gospel. When the Lord forgives, his forgiveness is complete and eternal. The Lord invites us to come to him, to rely on him, and to seek his guidance. Parents who drive their children away have committed a grave sin, and their children might abandon them when they are older. A teenager especially is like a coiled spring. The harder you press down, the farther it will spring away the first chance it gets.

A discouraged child might reject everything a cruel parent treasures. If you so embitter or make your child resentful that they turn away from your Christian faith, have you done anything good? The child might become a good citizen, but you have damaged their soul, and you might possibly have lost their soul.

Encourage your children. Let them know that they have value, that you love them; that you are proud of them. If your first impulse is to say, “My father never did that,” then (1) I’m sorry you didn’t have the experience I had, with a loving father who did that all the time, and (2) now you have the chance to break that pattern, and to out-parent your parents. Be the kind of parent you always wanted. Reflect God’s love for you in your love for your children. Live out the gospel for them, and this will encourage them in every way.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


Browse Devotion Archive