Ephesians 4:31 & 32 are seldom used as parenting directives. This is unfortunate. There is a powerful dynamic of grace here to help shepherd your children towards Christ. Read these words slowly:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Because of the gospel grace shown to you, Paul is directing you to rid your thoughts and your speech of the angry words of relational combat. The deceitfulness of our flesh entices us to justify our anger. So when a child, a teenager, a spouse, or a friend wrongs or hurts you, you feel totally justified in letting them “have it.” We accommodate our outrage by thinking, “I know I shouldn’t be angry, but sometimes you just have to say enough is enough.”
This sort of language and rationalization will receive a hearty Amen from the Satanic cheering section and your wounded flesh. We think we have been strong, when in fact we have taken the coward’s way out and indulged in capitulation to methods of the enemy. We do what seems right at the moment.
Parents, God calls you to be shepherds, not enforcers. You may feel regret at your anger, but until you repent and embrace compassion and grace you will be aiding and abetting the enemy.
Letting someone “have it” is easy. It requires no courage, just pride, to let loose and give others what you believe they deserve. This is why grace is the most effective weapon in fighting for the spiritual lives of your children.
“Enough is enough” may feel like the right thing to say, but on what basis? How much is enough? Well, that is the problem. You are the one who makes the determination! What is enough today might not be enough tomorrow. Enough means when I think I have reached my limit. However, would you want God to say to you enough is enough?
Instead of reaching your limit, pray for grace to reach for God’s limit expressed in the fruit of his Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Holy Spirit will provide whatever grace is necessary to produce his fruit in your life.
Get rid the of anger that says, “Enough is enough!” Paul calls you “to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Don’t capitulate! Don’t give your enemy something to cheer about. Join the war of love waged with the power of grace and led by your King, Jesus Christ!
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.
Jay Younts is the author of Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, and he is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is a ruling elder at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.